Hot on the heels of being ranked no. 1 in the nation for public transportation (causing many in this town to scratch their heads and go “huh?”), D.C. has been named the top major U.S. city—along with Boston—for biking and walking to work.
The results are from the Alliance for Biking and Walking’s 2016 Benchmarking Report, which found that 16.7 percent of commuters in D.C. and Boston ride or ambulate based on data from the American Community Survey 2011-2013, the Federal Highway Administration, and other national sources. San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland ranked close behind. Notably, more than 50 percent of commuters in both D.C. and Boston use public transit to commute to and from work.
“Cities with the highest levels of bicycling and walking have lower car ownership rates,” the report explains. “Although the statistical relationship is strong, the causation likely runs in both directions. Those who walk or bicycle a lot are less likely to need or want a car, and those who do not own a car are more likely to need to walk or bicycle for some trips.”
In the District, nearly 40 percent of residents do not own a car, per the report. In New York, the majority don’t own one:
While the authors don’t dive into D.C. specifically, they do show that there have been only a handful of pedestrian and cycling fatalities here in recent years as compared to other cities. (According to the Metropolitan Police Department, 26 people died in traffic-related incidents last year, down from 49 in 2005 and 62 in 1995.) Arguably, a greater proportion of people bike and walk in D.C. than in other major U.S. cities because they perceive it to be safe. Transit safety is the goal of the District’s Vision Zero campaign, which seeks to eliminate all traffic fatalities by 2024 using several strategies.
Then again, D.C.’s relatively high rates of walking and biking could in part be due to its size and Metro’s repeated woes.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery; screenshots via report; h/t Fast Company