Paul Kline/Flickr

The city’s rate of cycle commuting is the highest it’s ever been.

Judging from its glut of bike blogs alone—among them Bike Portland, Urban Adventure League, Portlandize, Bicycle Kitty, Portland Pedal Power, The Simplicity of Vintage Cycles, The Sprocket Podcast, and, er, Bike Smut (NSFW-ish)—one might suspect Oregon’s weirdest city has a thing for cycling.

New numbers from the U.S. Census back up that notion. In 2014, Portland led the nation for the rate of people biking to work in major cities,* according to American Community Survey data released yesterday. Slightly more than 7 percent of the city’s commuters chose to pedal—that’s about 23,350 people, a leap of 27 percent over 2013’s estimate of roughly 18,300 commuters.

The survey indicates that last year about 904,500 people cycled to their jobs throughout the U.S. (Nearly 111 million drove a car alone.) Locals probably won’t be surprised they’re kicking butt at pedaling, as last year the Census announced Portland had the highest bike-commute rate among large cities from 2008 to 2012.

Portland’s transpo department crows of the latest honorific in a press release:

“Two of the greatest threats we face are climate disruption and rising health care costs,” said Commissioner Steve Novick, who oversees the Portland Bureau of Transportation. “Bicycles are potent weapons against both threats, because when you're riding a bike, you're getting healthier and you're not emitting greenhouse gases. Many people understand that, but assume that only a tiny fraction of people will ever ride a bike. But that's not true. The numbers can grow—and now we know that they are growing.”

“Portlanders should be proud that we continue to use bikes at the highest rate of any major city in the nation,” said Portland Transportation Director Leah Treat. “Today’s record rate of bike commuting is a result of decades of investment in projects that make it safer for people to use bikes and programs that encourage people to try biking. When we make it safer for people to bike, we all benefit with cleaner air, lower carbon emissions and a healthier community.”

In 2013, Portland had a bike commute rate of 5.9 percent and in 2004 the rate was 2.8 percent.

*Correction: While Portland has the highest bike-to-work rates for major U.S. cities, several smaller cities have higher rates, such as Davis, California, and Boulder, Colorado.

the largest major city

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a photo of a full parking lot with a double rainbow over it

    Parking Reform Will Save the City

    Cities that require builders to provide off-street parking trigger more traffic, sprawl, and housing unaffordability. But we can break the vicious cycle.   

  2. Groups of people look at their phones while sitting in Washington Square Park in Manhattan.

    How Socially Integrated Is Your City? Ask Twitter.

    Using geotagged tweets, researchers found four types of social connectedness in big U.S. cities, exemplified by New York, San Francisco, Detroit, and Miami.

  3. People standing in line with empty water jugs.

    Cape Town’s ‘Day Zero’ Water Crisis, One Year Later

    In spring 2018, news of the water crisis in South Africa ricocheted around the world—then the story disappeared. So what happened?

  4. A photo of a police officer in El Paso, Texas.

    What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings

    Two new studies have revived the long-running debate over how police respond to white criminal suspects versus African Americans.

  5. Tents with the Honolulu skyline behind them

    Where Is the Best City to Live, Based on Salaries and Cost of Living?

    Paychecks stretch the furthest in smaller cities for most workers, but techies continue to do best in larger, more expensive cities.