According to the Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey, Boston ranks sixteenth among big cities for its bike commute rate. The publicized rate is 1.6%.

That ranks it behind Pittsburgh with it’s rate of 1.7%

Boston’s rate is a decrease from the 2014 survey that had the Boston bicycle commute rate at 2.4%.

The top five big cities:

Portland OR 7.0%
Minneapolis MN 5.0%
San Francisco CA 4.3%
Washington DC 4.1%
Seattle WA 4.0%

I was curious about the numbers so I dove a bit deeper into the tables.

The city rate is based on the city population. For Boston, that means it comes from the survey of 360,257 residents of the city of Boston. That excludes people biking from Cambridge, Newton or Brookline into or through Boston. (Like me)

So I took a deeper dive into the numbers and looked at Middlesex County, Norfolk County, all of Suffolk County, and Cambridge.

Boston 1.6%
Cambridge 7.5%
Newton 1.2%
Suffolk County 1.4%
Middlesex County 1.4%
Norfolk County 0.6%

The 1.6% rate is just for citizens of Boston. Across the river, the Cantabrigians commute by bicycle at several times that rate. Newton’s rate is lower. There was no separate data for Brookline. I would guess Brookline is higher than Boston, but lower than Cambridge.

Cambridge’s rate of cycling is higher than the rate of legendary Portland.

The census data areas do not match up with the area of Metro Boston that is in a range suitable for bicycle commuting. I used Middlesex and Norfolk counties as proxies, but most of the communities in those counties are fairly remote to be suitable for bike commuting.


Pittsburgh’s Skyline is by Bobak Ha’Eri. CC BY SA