Monday, September 23, 2013

2012 Census - NJ Bike and Walk To Work Commuters Remain Stubbornly Low

Nationally 2.8% of the population walks to work.  NJ sits right in the middle of the pack ranked 24th with 3% of workers walking and 3.1% of the female workers walking. It not evenly distribute though - only 8 of 20 Counties (Salem is too small for 1 year ACS samples) exceed the national average with Hudson reporting 8.4% walk to work.

NJ is tied for 29th place for the percentage of workers who travel by bicycle, with 0.4% bike commuters and 0.2% female bike commuters, this actually represented a small but significant gain. However only 3 Counties exceed the national average of  0.64% of bike commuters (Atlantic, Cape May and Mercer). Nationally NJ ranks and only Cape May exceeds the 1% threshold. In fact at 3.3% the rate of bicycle commuters is more the 5 times the national average. Cape May County also has nearly as many female bicycle commuters as men.

Comparison Driving Alone vs Transit, Walking and Biking in NJ's Largest Municipalities (click on image to enlarge)

16 of the 18 NJ municipalities with a population of over 65,000 were also included in the 1 year Census data. When you compare these cities the data shows that the older denser cities tend to have better walk and transit numbers than the growing townships but with the exception of Lakewood the bike to work numbers are miserable across the board. Lakewood, which has a very modest drive alone to work percentage also has a dip in the percentage of transit commuters, which suggests that bike and walk trips are picking up some of the slack.

New York City (1% +25%), Philadelphia (2.3% +28%) and Washington DC (4.1% +28%) have seen dramatic increases in bike commuting in the past year. These big cities have been investing  in bike infrastructure for some time and the results are moving the needle and changing the commute habits of their residents. In 2012 Washington's Capital Bikeshare saw a large jump in daily ridership which may have helped them break the 4% bike commuter mark.

All of this suggests that the implementation of complete streets can offer hope for many communities in New Jersey to mitigate their traffic woes and at the same time get out of the bottom tier of tier of bike and walk trips and help attract and keep younger residents in the state.


Tal F said...

What NJ really needs in order to move the needle is better bike/walk connections to NYC. The GWB is not enough. It comes from bike/ped unfriendly Fort Lee and lands you in out-of-the-way Washington Heights, far from the job centers.

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