Bloomberg Rankings has released a list of bike-to-work rates in 25 major U.S. cities and Portland, Ore., came out on top. In 2010, nearly 16,000 workers biked to work. That's 5.44 percent of the city’s total workforce and it represents an increase of 1.29 percentage points from the 2006 survey.
Whether it was the need to cut back on fuel bills because of the Great Recession, the desire to get healthier or simply a better choice for the environment, biking to work increased during the five-year period examined by Bloomberg Rankings.
Portland is a veritable mecca for bike owners. Bloomberg’s follow-up story
highlights the growing bike trend in the city: families take their kids to the grocery store on bikes with big cargo baskets, there is an annual naked bike ride
and the city boasts dozens of companies that build bikes by hand. If I had to guess, I would say it is a safe bet that biking to work will increase even more next time Bloomberg looks at the topic.
Portland doesn’t just top the list; its bike-to-work rate is nearly double that seen in the number two city, San Francisco. Just less than 3 percent of San Francisco employees biked to work in 2010, an increase of 0.70 percent from 2006.
Seattle, Wash., was just a few points behind in third place with 2.80 percent of its 339,000 work force biking to work in 2010. I’d expect people to bike to work in these areas, though. Looking further down the list is where I run into a few surprises.
Number 16 on the Bloomberg Rankings Biking to Work list is New York City. Only 0.66 percent of the city’s millions of workers bike to work. I understand that New York City has a solid public transportation system, but I would have expected this number to be higher.
At number 17 on the list is my home metropolitan area, Phoenix, Ariz., with 0.61 percent of the population biking to work. It was nearly 110 degrees yesterday and even if you are biking to work at 7 a.m., you could be biking in 100-degree weather. If you come home at 5 p.m., that is peak temperature time and you could easily be commuting in 110+ degree temperatures in the middle of summer.
Thankfully these temperatures only last a few months and the rest of the year is perfect for biking to work. I’d expected the rates to be a little higher, but the fact that Phoenix is so spread out may be working against it.