The war on cars appears to be succeeding. (Kidding! There is no war on cars.) According to a report today from the U.S. Census Bureau, an increasing percentage of Washingtonians are walking and biking to work, making D.C. a national leader in foot-propelled commutes.
According to the latest American Community Survey data, collected between 2008 and 2012, 12.1 percent of D.C. residents who work outside the home commute by foot, up slightly from 11.8 percent in 2000. The percentage of bike commuters increased more, rising from 1.2 percent to 3.1 percent. (A Washington City Paper/Kojo Nnamdi Show poll conducted this year found that 4 percent of likely voters in this spring’s Democratic primary commute by bike.)
Those figures make D.C. the large American city (defined as having a population of more than 200,000) with the second-highest proportion of walkers, behind Boston, and the seventh-highest proportion of bikers. The latter category is led by Portland, Ore., followed by Madison, Minneapolis, Boise, Seattle, and San Francisco.
Most large American cities experienced an increase in biking over the past decade. Nationally, the percentage of people who bike to work increased by 60 percent, rising to a still-meager 0.6 percent. But D.C.’s increase in walking to work is actually something of an anomaly. Twenty-three of the 50 largest cities experienced a statistically significant change in the percentage of workers who commute by foot; of those, 15 experienced a significant decline in walking.
But while the District may be a leader in walking to work, the D.C. metro area is less so. Only 3.2 percent of residents of the region, which extends to northeastern West Virginia, walk to work.
Compared to states, D.C. fares quite well in both categories. Only one state, Oregon, matches D.C. in having a bike-to-work faction of more than 2 percent of the population, while only two states, New York and Alaska, join D.C. with a walk-to-work contingent of more than 6 percent.
Nonetheless, we’re going to have to step up our war on cars if we want to catch up to Boise.
Images from the U.S. Census Bureau