What if all of Portland’s Bikers Decided to Drive for One Day?

This post is sort of inspired by Randall Munroe.

It’s an idea that pops up now and then in the bike world: What if, one morning, we all drove cars instead?

That’d teach the naysayers a lesson.

Or would it?

Well, let’s find out.

How many bike commuters own cars?

Here’s the first thing to figure out: How many people riding bikes to Portland jobs actually have cars at home?

As with a lot of these questions, a Census data set released last fall, covering the years 2006-2010, is going to be a huge help here. Though the share of bike commuters is somewhat higher today than in the early years of that period, it’s not a dramatic difference, so the demographics of who’s biking probably haven’t changed a ton.

Of 15,130 people who biked to Portland jobs over those years, 2,460 didn’t have cars at home, and another 5,730 lived in one-car households. According to different Census data, 47 percent of one-car households in the Portland area have two workers; let’s assume this ratio holds for households with bike commuters, and that such households are evenly split between those where both workers leave the car at home and those where one worker car-commutes while the other bikes.