Washington is a walking, biking city

A bicyclist crosses the Key Bridge. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)
A bicyclist crosses the Key Bridge. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

Washington ranks seventh in the nation among cities where bicycling to work has gained in popularity and is second only to Boston when it comes to walking to work, according to Census Bureau data released Thursday.

“In recent years, many communities have taken steps to support more transportation options, such as bicycling and walking,” said the Census Bureau’s Brian McKenzie, who wrote the report. “For example, many cities have invested in bike share programs, bike lanes and more pedestrian-friendly streets.”

Washington has kept pace with its peers, creating more than 50 miles of bike lanes and planning to add 14 miles more this year. The popular Capital Bikeshare program puts more than 2,500 short-trip bikes on District and suburban streets, and it plans more expansion this year.

Nationwide, commuting to work by bike has increased by about 60 percent in the past 10 years, the Census Bureau said. About 488,000 people were doing in in 2010, and the number grew to about 786,000 during the 2008-2012 time period, according to the bureau.

Bicyclists account for 0.6 percent of all commuters, but several big cities have more than doubled their rates since 2000. Portland, Ore., had the highest bicycle-commuting rate at 6.1 percent, up from 1.8 percent in 2000. In Minneapolis, the rate increased from 1.9 percent to 4.1 percent. 

Portland was the top bike-commute city, followed by Madison, Wis., (5.1 percent), Minneap0lis, Boise, Idaho, (3.7), Seattle (3.4), San Francisco (3.4), the District (3.1), Tucson (2.4) and Oakland, Calif., (2.4).

The West had the highest rate of biking to work at 1.1 percent, and the South had the lowest rate at 0.3 percent. The median bike commuting time was about 19 minutes. The Census Bureau said men were twice more likely to bike to work than women.

The northeastern states had the  highest rate of walking to work at 4.7 percent of workers.  Among large cities, Boston was the highest walking-to-work cities at 15.1 percent. The District ranked second (12.1 percent), followed by Pittsburgh (11.3), New York (10.3), San Francisco (9.9), Madison (9.1), Seattle (9.1), Honolulu (9.0), Philadelphia (8.6) and Jersey City (8.5). Baltimore ranked 12th at 6.5 percent. 

The Census Bureau determined that workers living in core cities walked to work at a rate of 4.3 percent, compared with 2.4 percent for workers in suburbs. The median walking commute time was 11.5 minutes.

Ashley Halsey reports on national and local transportation.

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