Saturday, May 02, 2015

Alaska Bike To Work Commuters Double US Average

Governor Walker declared this Bike Month in Anchorage.  

From the Governor's Proclamation
"WHEREAS, according to 2014 Benchmarking Report from Alliance for Biking and Walking in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of adults who bike to work in Alaska is approximately double the national average – a ranking of sixth in the nation. Alaska also has the third lowest rate of bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities; and. . ."  (emphasis added)
These numbers looked interesting so I looked up the report. (I did go to several data sessions at the Alaska Press Club last week, including one on how to check the data that's being pumped out like this.  Though, I've been doing that on this blog anyway.)

The Bike Walk Alliance website, requires you to leave your name and contact info to download the report.  I understand they would like to have a mailing list of folks interested, but I don't like being on so many mailing lists.  AARP has posted the whole report on their site.   It's 250 pages, lots of pretty pictures and charts.

Here are some things I found out as I scanned through it.
"Additionally, the following agencies and organizations provided funds for the midsized cities pilot benchmarking effort included in this report for the first time:
Bicycle Commuters of Anchorage
City of Burlington
Bike Chattanooga 
Great Rivers Greenway
Bike/Walk Alliance for Missoula
Missoula in Motion
City of Albany
Here are some of the titillating numbers for Alaska bikers (and walkers).

Screen shot of Study, p.43

Screen shot of Study, p.44

The explanation of how they collected the data was not totally clear to me.  However, it did say that the Anchorage data were collected on Bike To Work day, which is probably the day when the most people in Anchorage ride to work.  Including lots of people who normally don't bike much at all.   I doubt that is representative of how many people regularly ride to work.  And I suspect that some bike groups - like Anchorage Bicycle Commuters - go out of their way to do counts, which boosts those cities compared to other cities.
Screen shot of Study, p. 67
 So, how did they get numbers for people walking to work for Alaska? 

But you have to use the data you have and this sort of project will spark more interest in biking and in the reliability of the stats. And they said this was a pilot benchmarking effort for mid-sized cities. 

Also note that Alaska has the highest percent of people walking to work.  I suspect that has to do with the number of very small communities in Alaska.  But then the chart doesn't show how pedestrians were counted.  But maybe that was somewhere else because it's statewide data, not just Anchorage data. 

Here are some other interesting bits from the study. 
Commuters by Income

While bicycling is distributed evenly among all income groups, lower income workers make up a disproportionate share of those who walk to work. Nationwide data from ACS reveal that nearly 45% of people who walk to work earn less than $15,000 per year. On average, 62% of people who walk to work in the large cities studied for this report earn below $35,000 a year. San Francisco and New York City have the most even income distribution among people who walk to work, with all income groups well-represented. (p.51)

Possible Influencing Factors
  • Climate—Weak Relationship
    • Does climate influence the choice to bicycle? Montana and Alaska, for example, are among states with the coldest temperatures, yet are also among the states with the highest levels of bicycling and walking to work.
  • Car Ownership—Strong Relationship 
    • According to the 2011 ACS, cities with the highest levels of bicycling and walking have lower car ownership rates.

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