Census releases commuting to work data for 2011: walking, biking, transit continue to rise


A higher percentage of Chicagoans are walking to work. Photo by Joseph Dennis. 

The Census Bureau has started releasing data from the 2011 American Community Survey. This survey is conducted annually and will collect every 5 years the same amount of data the decennial census collects every 10 years. So far, only 1-year estimate data is available. 1-year estimate data for a year should only be compared to any other year’s 1-year estimate data (3-year and 5-year estimates, with larger sample sizes, will be available by the end of the year). The table below shows commuting patterns for Chicago, from the S0801 table: Commuting characteristics by sex.

View this table in a High Chart from Derek Eder.

1-year estimates, ACS 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 Notes
Workers 1,162,550 1,209,122 1,230,933 1,260,741 1,271,744 1,168,318 1,199,278 Major decline from 2009 to 2010.
Walking 5.5 5.4 5.4 5.8 5.9 6.5 6.3 Steady but slow increases.
Bicycling 0.7 0.9 1.1 1.0 1.1 1.3 1.4 Steady but slow increases.
Transit 25.3 25.4 26.7 26.7 26.5 26.5 27.6 Ups and downs.
Car, Drive Alone 53.4 52.6 51.2 50.5 50.8 50.2 49.9 Steady but slow decreases.
Carpool (2+ people) 10.7 10.7 10.4 10.3 9.9 9.4 9.0 Steady but slow decreases.
Taxi 1.6 1.5 1.4 1.4 1.5 1.5 1.5 Maintained.
Worked at home 2.9 3.6 3.7 4.2 4.2 4.7 4.3 Increases, then maintained.

I find it interesting that as “driving alone” decreased, the people who stopped driving alone didn’t necessarily switch to carpooling (where they could share the costs of driving), but switched to other modes of transportation.

It should be noted that the American Community Survey and the decennial census questionnaires ask the respondent to choose the longest distance mode they took to work, “typically”, for the week prior. This means that if you bike 1 mile to the train station and then take the train 10 miles to work, you should only select “transit”.

Interviews reveal what Chicago cyclists want

Happy New Year!

I’ll keep this one light as you focus on catching up on all the emails you missed over the holiday – or maybe you need a distraction (there’s comfort in stillness). We published every weekday through the holidays so take a minute to follow up on those articles (a list and summary at the bottom). But if you want to keep reading, this is what we have in store for you today: the Bike Fancy catalog of interviews.


Jennifer and sons at Cortland Street and Paulina Street. Read their interview. Photo by Martha Williams

I emailed Martha a while ago and suggested she use the rich data she had in the personal interviews she conducted with Chicago’s citizen cyclists. Data that can be used to help guide development of bikeway planning (similar to what the Streets for Cycling 2020 Plan is doing). So I gave her some tips on how to put it together and two days ago she published the results. Continue reading Interviews reveal what Chicago cyclists want