How Americans Get to Work

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According to a new U.S. Census Bureau analysis of data from the American Community Survey, most Americans drive to work — alone, and public transportation commuters are concentrated in a handful of large cities. From the Bureau’s press release:

Despite rising fuel costs, commuters continued to drive their cars in 2005. The survey, gathered over the course of the year, found that driving to work was the favored means of commute of nearly nine out of 10 workers (87.7 percent), with most people (77 percent) driving alone.

In contrast, 4.7 percent of commuters used public transportation to travel to work in 2005, an increase of about 0.1 percent over 2000 levels. About half of the nation’s public transportation commuters can be found in 10 of the nation’s 50 cities with the most workers age 16 or over.

"With each succeeding year, we’ll be able to see how people respond to changing circumstances, such as rising gas prices," said Census Bureau Director Louis Kincannon.

The survey found that Portland, Oregon has the highest rate of bicycle commuting at 3.5 percent. New York is number 28 on the list with a 0.5 percent bike commuting rate but ranks number one in total number of cyclists with nearly twice as many bike commuters as Portland.

Among large cities, Boston has the highest rate of workers who walk to work at 12.5 percent. New York, which is often thought of as the country’s best walking city, was 4th on the list at 9.4 percent behind Washington D.C. and San Francisco.

You can download the entire report here (Excel).

  • I think that good public transport reduced the number of people who bike. Not that it’s a bad thing, but as long as I have great subway access it’s hard to get all dressed up to ride in the winter.

  • Daniel

    I’m sure I’m not the only one who doesn’t bike to work simply because I enjoy my bike and don’t want it stolen. I know that I could buy a 30-lb, $500 bike chain, but that just seems like to much effort compared to hoping on the subway. NYC needs to offer pay per use, secure bike lockers like the one in Berkeley, CA.

  • david

    I fly to work each week – How come thats not a category?

  • I think that’s “other means”

  • john

    what about if this city got more places to LOCK bikes…sometimes i have to park 4-5 blocks away. WTF???

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