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Vélo is the French word for bike.

2012 ACS Non-Motorized Mode Share Estimates

The American Community Survey (ACS) 2012 1-year estimates were released recently, and the Star Tribune ran a piece titled ‘Minneapolis sees surge in residents choosing to walk or bike to work’.

More than 11 percent of the city’s residents opted for one of the two nonmotorized options in 2012, the Census Bureau’s American community Survey found. That’s a nearly 25 percent increase from the 9.2 percent who walked or biked in 2011.

[...]

In 2012, 6.9 percent chose walking to work and another 4.5 percent pedaled, according to the survey. In 2011, those percentages were 5.8 walking and 3.4 biking.

I have been written before about difficulties in making grandiose statements about mode share.  It is important to keep these numbers in context. It is a fact that the ACS estimated non-motorized mode split in Minneapolis rose 24.9 percent since the 2011 estimate, however, the same survey indicates that the non-motorized mode split fell 9.8% in 2011, 1% in 2010, and 1% in 2009.

I don’t want to be misunderstood: The data clearly suggests an increasing trend since the first ACS results were released in 2005, however, a headline suggesting there was a 25% “surge” in a single year is misleading. There is a lot of noise in the data, and the margin of error on the ACS estimates is usually somewhere around 1% as well.

Anyway, I’ll let statisticians weigh in on the reliability of the data itself, I mostly just wanted to present the same data in context with all the similar data collected since 2005. Just for fun, I’ve also shown the estimates by gender as well.

Minneapolis Commute Walking Mode Share

Minneapolis Commute Walking Mode Share

Minneapolis Commute Biking Mode Share

Minneapolis Commute Biking Mode Share

I was also curious to see the estimates for Saint Paul. Using the same reporting methodology as the Star Tribune article, the 2012 estimate for walking and biking combined increased from 5.3% to 5.4%, an increase of 1.9%.

Saint Paul Commute Walking Mode Share

Saint Paul Commute Walking Mode Share

Saint Paul Commute Biking Mode Share

Saint Paul Commute Biking Mode Share

And to save everyone the trouble of trying to compare Minneapolis and Saint Paul in the charts above, here’s the same info with the two cities on the same chart.

Saint Paul and Minneapolis mode share comparison

Saint Paul and Minneapolis mode share comparison

I’ll let others draw conclusions in the comments below or in future posts. What are your thoughts about the 2012 ACS non-motorized mode share estimates?

1 comment to 2012 ACS Non-Motorized Mode Share Estimates

  • hokan

    These number are nice pointers (and, sadly, the best we’ve got), but really aren’t all that good. When last year’s (2011) numbers came out I noted that “about 1.1% of Minneapolis residents supposedly traveled to work on streetcars, elevated trains, subways, and rail cars.” Most of those aren’t available here and I don’t think that many were using the Northstar.

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