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The Bike Bowl: College Towns Surge Ahead in Bike Commuting

Posted By Tony Dutzik On January 4, 2013 @ 11:47 am In Bicycling | 11 Comments

Tony Dutzik is senior policy analyst with the Frontier Group [1], a think tank working on issues of the environment and democracy.

It’s college football bowl time. That once meant the renewal of age-old rivalries, and nowhere more so than in the Rose Bowl, which traditionally pitted the winner of Midwest-based Big 10 conference with the winner of the Pacific 8 (or 10, or 12).

[2]

Iowa City has experienced a 64 percent jump in bicycle mode share, in part because of efforts by the University of Iowa to become more bike-friendly. Photo: University of Iowa [3]

Over the last decade, however, the Big 10 and Pac 12 have been waging another kind of competition — for leadership in the integration of bicycling into campus life.

Back in November, the folks at the U.S. Department of Transportation who put out the useful Census Transportation Planning Products [4] posted a list of the 30 counties and “places” that have experienced the greatest increases [5] in commuting by bicycle, by foot, and by public transportation between the 2000 Census and the 2006-2010 American Community Survey.

College towns dominate the list of places with the greatest surge in bike commuting (see full list after the jump). Many college towns have long been bastions of bike travel, but the dramatic increase in bike commuting in many of those towns suggests that there is still room to grow, and that efforts to promote bicycling can make a difference. Many of the schools on the list of those with the greatest growth in bike commuting are also on the League of American Bicyclists’ list of “Bicycle Friendly Universities [6].”

Unfortunately, the Census Bureau only collects data on travel to work, which means that the figures below do not capture travel by students without jobs or those using bikes for recreational trips or errands. Still, the dramatic increase in bicycle travel in college towns is significant. It saves campuses the expense of building new roads and parking structures to accommodate vehicles for students and staff. It provides working students with a first taste of what bicycle commuting is like, creating the possibility that they will look for opportunities to continue to travel by bike post-graduation. And the presence of a bike-friendly campus in a city can create a foundation for making the entire community more accessible to bicycles.

As it turns out, the Big 10 and Pac 12 are co-winners of the Bike Bowl – each with five schools among the Top 30. But many other campuses, from the Ivy League to the SEC, are also represented. Take a look…

Number and Share of Total Commuters by Bike, 2006-2010, and Increase in Share since 2000 (Source: U.S. Department of Transportation [4])

Place Name

University

Bike Commuters

Percent Commuting by Bike, 2006-2010

Bike Share Change: 2000 to 2006-10

Santa Cruz city, California

U. California-Santa Cruz

2,391

8.4

4

Portland city, Oregon

Portland State U.

15,871

5.4

3.6

Davis city, California

U. California-Davis

5,319

17.6

3.2

Cambridge city, Massachusetts

Harvard, MIT, others

3,868

6.8

2.9

Boulder city, Colorado

U. Colorado-Boulder

4,950

9.8

2.9

Eugene city, Oregon

Univ. of Oregon

5,769

8.2

2.6

Corvallis city, Oregon

Oregon State Univ.

2,425

9.5

2.4

Fort Collins city, Colorado

Colorado State Univ.

4,928

6.7

2.3

Boise City city, Idaho

Boise State Univ.

3,963

3.7

2

Berkeley city, California

U. California-Berkeley

3,858

7.5

1.9

Brookline CDP, Massachusetts

1,135

3.6

1.8

Minneapolis city, Minnesota

Univ. of Minnesota

7,472

3.7

1.8

Somerville city, Massachusetts

Adjacent to Tufts Univ.

2,152

4.6

1.8

Iowa City city, Iowa

Univ. of Iowa

1,503

4.1

1.6

Bellingham city, Washington

Western Washington U.

1,649

4.2

1.6

Mountain View city, California

1,334

3.4

1.4

La Crosse city, Wisconsin

U. Wisconsin-La Crosse

657

2.5

1.4

Flagstaff city, Arizona

Northern Arizona U.

1,700

5

1.3

Madison city, Wisconsin

Univ. of Wisconsin

5,848

4.5

1.3

Ann Arbor city, Michigan

Univ. of Michigan

1,936

3.5

>1.2

Palo Alto city, California

Adjacent to Stanford U.

1,998

6.8

1.2

New Haven city, Connecticut

Yale U.

1,390

2.4

1.2

Westminster city, California

675

1.7

1.1

Elkhart city, Indiana

316

1.5

1.1

Auburn city, Alabama

Auburn U.

422

1.9

1.1

Portland city, Maine

Univ. Southern Maine

748

2.1

1

Encinitas city, California

511

1.7

1

San Francisco city, California

USF, UCSF, SFSU, others

12,878

3

1

Evanston city, Illinois

Northwestern U.

963

2.7

1

Waltham city, Massachusetts

Brandeis

529

1.6

1

 


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URL to article: http://usa.streetsblog.org/2013/01/04/the-bike-bowl-college-towns-surge-ahead-in-bike-commuting/

URLs in this post:

[1] Frontier Group: http://www.frontiergroup.org/

[2] Image: http://usa.streetsblog.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/iowa.jpg

[3] University of Iowa: http://now.uiowa.edu/2012/10/ui-way-becoming-bicycle-friendly-university

[4] Census Transportation Planning Products: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/planning/census_issues/ctpp/data_products/2000-2010_commute_changes/placebike.cfm

[5] increases: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/planning/census_issues/ctpp/data_products/2000-2010_commute_changes/index.cfm

[6] Bicycle Friendly Universities: http://www.bikeleague.org/programs/bicyclefriendlyamerica/bicyclefriendlyuniversity/

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