Census: Bicycle commuting has doubled in Missouri since 1990, and more than doubled in major cities since 2000

New Census data shows that bike to work rates grew substantially in Missouri in 2010--the most recent data available.  The amount of bicycle commuting in Missouri has nearly doubled since 2000--and more than doubled in the major cities--and the walk-to-work trip is up 71% since 2007.

Large increases in the amount of bicycling to work in Missouri this decade

Rates of bicycling to work made huge gains in 2008 when gasoline prices spiked, and those rates have only continued to increase through 2010.  

Since 2007, the bicycle-to-work percentage has increased by 63% in the state as a whole.  Increases were 22% in Kansas City and 92% in St. Louis.  The larger gains in St. Louis--and St. Louis's far higher overall rate of bicycling, nearly three times the rate of Kansas City--are most likely because of the far more extensive bicycle route and trails system in St. Louis compared to Kansas City.

Since 2000, the gains are even more impressive: The amount of bicycle commuting in Missouri in 2010 is 1.7 times what it was in 2000. Gains are even larger for the large cities: Bicycle commuting in 2010 was 2.6 times the 2000 amount for St. Louis and 2.75 times the 2000 amount for Kansas City. What this suggests is that the amount of bicycle commuting is growing pretty uniformly across the entire state.

And bicycling commuting in Missouri is growing far faster than it is in the nation as a whole: In the years 2000-2010, bicycle commuting in the U.S. as a whole was up by just under 40%, while in Missouri bicycle commuting is growing at nearly twice that rate.

Amount of walking to work grows, though not as dramatically

The amount of walking in Missouri is up as well--though not as dramatically as the amount of bicycling.

In the state as a whole, the walk-to-work percentage is up 71% from 2007 to 2010.  In the same period, St. Louis is up 56% and Kansas City is up 16%.

The best hard numbers showing that the amount of bicycling and walking has been growing fast in Missouri this decade

Unfortunately we don't have any good way of measuring the amount of bicycling and walking in Missouri as a whole, beyond the trip to work measured by this Census data.  But this Census data--that best hard numbers on bicycling and walking that we do have in Missouri--definitely backs up what many of us have observed informally for years:  The amount of bicycling, especially, and walking has increased dramatically across Missouri over the past decade.

We're moving up, and we're moving fast!

The tables and figures below summarize the Census Bureau statistics by year. Click on the figures to view them full size.

Percentage of bicycle commuters by geographical area and year

Missouri 

 

 

2010: 0.26%
2009: 0.25%
2008: 0.17%
2007: 0.16%
2006: 0.18%
2005: 0.19%
2000: 0.15%
1990: 0.13%

Kansas City:

2010: 0.33%
2009: 0.28%
2008: 0.18%
2007: 0.27%
2006: 0.06%
2005: 0.02%
2000: 0.12%

St. Louis:

2010: 0.92%
2009: 0.68%
2008: 0.72%
2007: 0.48%
2006: 0.74%
2000: 0.35%
1990: 0.3%

 

Percentage of pedestrian commuters by geographical area and year

Missouri

2010: 2.05%
2009: 1.97%
2008: 1.12%
2007: 1.20%
2006: 2.09%
2005: 1.80%

Kansas City

2010: 2.54%
2009: 2.33%
2008: 1.78%
2007: 2.20%
2006: 2.02%
2005: 1.99%
 

St. Louis

2010: 5.54%
2009: 3.26%
2008: 3.79%
2007: 3.56%
2006: 3.07%
 

Work vs Non-Work Trips

Unfortunately the Census' annual survey only tracks commuting to work, not the non-work trips like errands to the store, library, or school, or recreational trips.  

Given the sprawling nature of Missouri's cities and high amounts of inter-city commuting in rural Missouri, we know that many people simply live too far away from work to commute to work by bicycle.  Many of these people instead use their bicycles for transportation for non-work trips, exercise, or recreation.  These non-work trips make up the fast majority of bicycle trips in Missouri.Unfortunately this is a big piece of missing data.

Why these statistics are important--but also missing something important

Bicycling and walking are not tracked closely in the U.S. on a national basis or in MIssouri on a statewide basis.  For that reason, we can only estimate the total number of trips by walking and bicycling, based on occasional national surveys.  

The trip to work is the only current annual, statistically valid count of bicycle and pedestrian trips that is one on a regular, annual basis. 

So these statistics are very helpful for determining trends and directions in the amount of bicycling and walking, but keep in mind that these are capturing only a very small portion of all bicycling and walking trips--perhaps as few as 10% of all bicycling and walking trips.

Notes

  • The League of American Bicyclists has more information and complete city rankings for the 2009 bicycle data and also similar information based on 2010 census data.

  • Only trips to work are counted, not non-work trips like errands. One estimate, based on Census data, puts the total number of bicycle trips for St Louis between 0.68% and and 2.64% of all trips, and for Kansas City between 0.34% and 1.62% of all trips.

  • Data comes from the American Community Survey, the Census Bureau's annual sample, table B08006.

  • Only principal cities have data, not suburbs or metro areas.

  • The American Community Survey historically undercounts bicyclists, and it often shows big variations from year to year--most likely because of natural variation caused by small sample sizes, not changes in the underlying amount of bicycle commuting.  Long-term trends found by looking at several years worth of data are more reliable.

  • Only people who consider bicycling to be their primary mode of commuting to work are counted.

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