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Did You Know?

About one-third of all work trips in Chicago are comprised of people biking, walking, or riding public transit.

Daily bike trips reach 125,000, exceeds car traffic on Chicago streets

If a person bikes to the grocery store and the Census Bureau didn’t count it, did that person actually bike to the store?

Not in the eyes of most transportation planners, who generally count bike trips by relying solely on Census Bureau surveys of how people get to work.

Active Trans wanted to get a more complete picture of biking in Chicago, so we commissioned an analysis that uses other data, including a comprehensive travel survey conducted by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.

We recently released this analysis, with the first estimate for total daily bike trips in the city of Chicago. And the number is large: 125,000.

To put that in perspective, Western Ave. carries approximately 40,000 cars per day on its 23 miles in Chicago. This means there are three times more bikes trips in Chicago than cars on Western Ave.!

The estimate is a year-round average, so daily bike trips this time of year are expected to be higher, with lower numbers in colder months.

Biking to work gets the limelight, but most of the trips — nearly 91,000 — are everyday “utilitarian” trips like going to a restaurant or the library.

Work trips account for approximately 26,000 trips and school trips about 7,000. The estimate does not include purely recreational bike trips.

The report also analyzed demographic data on bike-to-work trips and the city’s bike count data to provide more details on the rising tide of cycling in Chicago. Additional key findings include:

  • Biking to work more than tripled from 2000 to 2012.
  • Biking to work is most common among the lowest income groups.
  • Chicago bike counts found that winter biking has become increasingly common, with the winter biking counts equal to nearly 40 percent of summer counts.
  • Chicago bike counts found that women accounted for 25 percent of observed cyclists in the winter and 31 percent in the summer. 

The ongoing surge in cycling makes it all the more important that Chicago designs Complete Streets that accommodate cycling and facilitate orderly and safe sharing of the streets by all roadway users.

Key design techniques include narrower roads and traffic lanes that lead to calmer traffic, shorter and more visible crosswalks, protected bike lanes and neighborhood greenways.

Join our growing ranks by participating in the Bike Commuter Challenge, which starts today, June 13, and runs until June 20. It’s easy and fun.