New numbers from the Census Bureau show that cycling to work in New York continued to grow last year, with the city breaking an important symbolic barrier: The percentage of New Yorkers regularly commuting by bike now stands at 1 percent. More than 36,000 city residents regularly commute by bike, up significantly over just a few years before.
Counting the number of people on bike has long been an imprecise science. While Transportation Alternatives estimated the number of New Yorkers on two wheels each day at 236,000 in 2010, there are a number of assumptions and extrapolations that keep that from being a hard-and-fast-number. Often, it’s more instructive to look for trends in imprecise, but consistent, measurements (like the Census numbers) over time.
Each year, the U.S. Census Bureau releases new results from the American Community Survey, which provides estimates on a wide variety of demographic topics, including commuting. On a rolling basis, the ACS asks Americans how they “usually” got to work in the previous week. The question does not accept multiple answers, so someone who commutes by, for example, both bike and train would have to choose only one. The survey does not measure non-work trips.