The number of people who commute to work by bicycle increased about 60 percent over the past decade according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
During the years 2008-2012, about 786,000 Americans commuted by bicycle, up from about 488,000 in 2000, the Census says. That jump is the largest percentage increase of all forms of transportation tracked by the 2000 Census and the 2008-2012 American Community Survey.
Bicyclists still account for fewer than one percent of all commuters. However, some large cities doubled their rate of bike commuters. Portland, Oregon had the highest bicycle commuting rate at 6.1 percent, up from 1.8 percent in 200. Minneapolis saw its bicycle commuting rate jump from 1.9 percent to 4.1 percent.
A large reason behind this increase is that cities are encouraging cyclists by creating bike lanes and bike-share programs. Bike-share programs are popping up all over the country, spearheaded by such campaigns as CitiBike in New York, Capital Bikeshare in Washington D.C., Divvy in Chicago, Austin B-cycle in Austin, Nice Ride Minnesota in Minneapolis, Hubway in Boston, Bay Area Bike Share in San Francisco, Denver B-cycle in Colorado, Charlotte B-cycle in North Carolina and Bike Chattanooga in Tennessee. But the programs don’t have to speak for themselves.
These bike share programs tend to have desirable effects. A 2015 study in Transport Reviews looked at systems in five cities, including Washington, D.C., and Minneapolis and found that users substituted rides via bike shares for car trips 8 percent of the time in D.C. and almost 20 percent of the time in Minneapolis. A separate study on D.C.’s Capital Bikeshare found that it contributed a modest but noticeable two to three percent reduction in traffic congestion. And a 2014 report from the NYC Department of Transportation found that even though some traffic lanes were converted to protected bike lanes on various streets, travel times for car traffic remained steady or improved: on Eighth Avenue, they were 14 percent faster, for example.
“In recent years, many communities have taken steps to support more transportation options, such as bicycling and walking,” said Brian McKenzie, the author of the U.S. Census Bureau Report.
Celebrities have also taken to the biking trend. Known as McDreamy in Grey’s Anatomy, actor Patrick Dempsey is an avid cyclist who has befriended some of the top pros in the sport. He also started the Dempsey Challenge- a bike event that raises money for the Patrick Dempsey Center, which supports individuals and families with cancer.
Matthew McConaughey is also a big fan of biking- he’s been spotted on several rides with his buddy, cycling superstar, Lance Armstrong. Another famous Texan that’s been seen on a bike recently is former president, George W. Bush. Bush can frequently be seen riding his bike around his Texas ranch and come his 70th birthday, he celebrated by hosting a 100 km mountain bike ride that raised funds for wounded veterans