Where Do People Bike & Walk to Work? College Towns

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Cartoon_USWritten by: Brian McKenzie

Biking to work has increased in large U.S. cities over the last decade.  In cities such as Portland, Ore., and Minneapolis the percentage of people who biked to work more than doubled. These cities are known for their bike share programs, bike lanes, and pedestrian friendly sidewalks and streets.

Many small (populations of 20,000 to 99,999) and midsized cities (populations of 100,000 to 199,999) also have a sizable share of their workers commuting by biking or walking. Many of these places are better known for the colleges and universities that call them home. With much of the population of college towns made up of students living near the campuses where they are likely employed, it is no surprise that biking and walking are popular among commuters.

Of the 30 small and midsized cities that ranked among the highest in rates of walking to work, 22 were “college towns.” The small city of Ithaca, N.Y., home to Cornell University and Ithaca College, had among the highest rate of walking to work for small cities. In Ithaca more than 42 percent of commuters walked to work. Cambridge, Mass., is a midsized city that also has two large colleges within the city, Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Twenty-four percent of its workers commute to work by foot. Cambridge also ranks high among midsized cities with high rates of biking to work, with 7.2 percent of workers commuting by bike. Among smaller cities, Davis, Calif., home to a University of California campus, 18.6 percent of people bike to work.

Several college towns rank high in both walking and biking to work. For example, in the city of Boulder, Colo., home of the University of Colorado, 9.2 percent of people walk to work and 10.5 percent bike to work.

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