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New analysis finds average daily bike trips reach 125,000 in city of Chicago

For immediate release

June 9, 2014


 Ted Villaire
Communications Director
Active Transportation Alliance
312.427.3325 x288
312.563.1118 mobile


New analysis finds average daily bike trips reach 125,000 in city of Chicago
Total exceeds car volumes on Chicago’s busiest streets

(Chicago, IL) — A new analysis released today provides the first estimate for total daily bike trips in the city of Chicago, including non-work trips that are typically excluded from data about the number and percentage of trips taken by bike.

The analysis finds that an average of nearly 125,000 daily bike trips are taken in Chicago, most of which — nearly 91,000 — are everyday “utilitarian” trips like going to the store or the library. Work trips account for approximately 26,000 trips and schools trips about 7,000. The estimate does not include purely recreational bike trips.

In comparison, Western Avenue carries approximately 40,000 cars per day on its 23 miles in Chicago, and Lake Shore Drive, the city’s most traveled road that’s not a highway, carries 161,000 cars per day.

The report was commissioned by the Active Transportation Alliance, which noted that the estimate is a year-round average and that daily bike trips are expected to be higher in warmer months and lower in colder months.

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.
  • Biking to work only accounts for approximately 21 percent of bike trips; most trips are “utilitarian.”
  • 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

“Our analysis finds that cycling is growing at a rapid pace, and this helps reduce car congestion and transit crowding and contributes to a more vibrant, livable city,” said Ron Burke, executive director at the Active Transportation Alliance. “Today the number of daily bike trips in Chicago exceeds the number of cars on Chicago’s busiest streets.”

Active Trans noted that the ongoing surge in cycling makes it all the more important that Chicago design “Complete Streets” that 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 movements, shorter and more visible crosswalks, protected bike lanes, and Neighborhood Greenways.

Data for the number and percentage of bike trips is typically reported exclusively for trips to work, based on surveys conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. The new analysis uses a regional household survey and other survey data to estimate “utilitarian” and school bike trips. 

According to Active Trans, the estimate for all bike trips is conservative for three reasons. First, biking has grown since the regional travel survey was conducted in 2007-08. Second, the Census Bureau’s survey doesn’t account for work trips that combine biking with some other mode, such as biking to the train; respondents must choose transit or biking for how they get to work. Finally, the estimate does not include purely recreational bike trips.

“This surge in Chicago cycling points to the need for creating more streets that are welcoming for people of all ages to ride bikes,” said Burke. “We applaud the city’s effort to create better biking infrastructure, but we still have much work to do so that everyone who chooses to bike feels safe on our streets.”

The Active Transportation Alliance is a non-profit, member-based advocacy organization that works to make bicycling, walking and public transit so safe, convenient and fun that we will achieve a significant shift from environmentally harmful, sedentary travel to clean, active travel. The organization builds a movement around active transportation, encourages physical activity, increases safety and builds a world-class transportation network. Formerly the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation, the Active Transportation Alliance is supported by more than 7,000 members and 1,000 volunteers. For more information about the Active Transportation Alliance, visit or call 312.427.3325.