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Reflective clothing, lights and other gear make for a safe bicycle commute for a bicyclist in Boise in this March photo. / Pete Zimowsky, Idaho Statesman, via AP

The number of people who commute to work by bicycle increased about 60% over the past decade, while the number of people walking to their jobs remained stable, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

During the years 2008-12, about 786,000 Americans commuted by bicycle, up from about 488,000 in 2000, the Census says. That jump is the largest percentage increase of all commuting modes tracked by the 2000 Census and the 2008-2012 American Community Survey.

Bicyclists still account for fewer than 1% of all commuters. However, some large cities more than doubled their rate of bike commuters. Portland, Ore., had the highest bicycle commuting rate at 6.1%, up from 1.8% in 2000; Minneapolis saw its bicycle commuting rate jump from 1.9% to 4.1%.

"In recent years, many communities have taken steps to support more transportation options, such as bicycling and walking," said Brian McKenzie, a Census Bureau sociologist and author of the report. "For example, many cities have invested in bike share programs, bike lanes and more pedestrian-friendly streets."

The Census Bureau's new report, "Modes Less Traveled ?? Bicycling and Walking to Work in the United States: 2008-2012," is the first to focus only on biking and walking to work.

May is the League of American Bicyclists' National Bike Month, next week is "Bike to Work Week" and May 16 is "Bike to Work Day."

Rebecca Serna, executive director of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, says that biking is increasing in popularity because of work by groups such as the Alliance for Biking and Walking to increase biking capacity - such as bike lanes - around the country.

"The grass-roots part of the biking movement is especially significant," she says. "People start riding a little bit, then a lot and they become natural proselytizers."

One growing trend among bicycle commuters emphasizes the social aspect of biking. A prime example of that is bike trains, in which groups of bikers set up a commute route, much like a carpool, and join each other every workday for the ride to the job.

Walking to work is more popular than it was, but has not seen the same explosive growth as hopping the two-wheeler to work. After steadily decreasing since 1980, the percentage of people who walk to work has stabilized since 2000. In 1980, 5.6% of workers walked to work; that declined to 2.9% by 2000. However, in the years 2008-12, the rate of walkers remained statistically unchanged.

Among large cities, Boston had the highest rate of walking to work at 15.1%.



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Biking to work increases 60% in past decade

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