How many bike to work in Detroit? / Dan Burden / Dan Burden

Ever wonder how many people are biking or walking to work in Metro Detroit?  How do we compare with the bike friendly cities of Chicago and Portland?

Fortunately the U.S. Census publishes statistics on how people get to work. The below numbers are from 2007, which is before gasoline hit $4 a gallon and encouraged increased bike commuting.  We look forward to seeing the 2008 numbers.

Note that the Metro Detroit error margins are generally +/- 0.1%. For cities, the error margins are much larger which makes comparing these numbers somewhat precarious.

One conclusion that can be drawn is women don’t bike to work as frequently as men, but especially in some areas such as Wayne County, Southfield, and Grand Rapids.  Even in more bike friendly cities like Ann Arbor, Chicago, and Portland, women workers are much less likely to bike to work.  There is no corresponding gender difference among those walking to work in many of these regions (the City of Detroit is an exception).  In Metro Detroit, women  walk to work more often than men (1.6% vs. 1.4%).

Another conclusion: Detroit has much room for improvement compared to places like Ann Arbor, Chicago, and Portland.

City/Region Total Workers
(age 16 & over)
to work
Bike to work
Overall Male Female
Michigan 4,400,918 2.3% 0.4% 0.5% 0.2%
Metro Detroit 1,925,690 1.5% 0.2% 0.3% 0.1%
Wayne County 758,034 1.9% 0.3% 0.5% 0.0%
Oakland County 577,367 1.6% 0.2% 0.3% 0.2%
Macomb County 383,058 0.9% 0.1% 0.1% 0.1%
Genesee County 170,312 1.0% 0.1% 0.2% 0.0%
Detroit 249,970 2.7% 0.3% 0.7% 0.0%
Southfield 33,936 2.2% 0.4% 0.7% 0.0%
Troy 42,211 0.5% 0.3% 0.2% 0.3%
Ann Arbor 55,336 13.8% 2.6% 3.4% 1.8%
Lansing 52,690 2.5% 0.4% 0.5% 0.3%
Grand Rapids 90,481 3.6% 1.1% 2.0% 0.1%
Traverse City region 66,557 2.8% 0.5% 0.7% 0.4%
Flint 31,579 0.8% 0.4% 0.6% 0.2%
Chicago, IL 1,230,933 5.4% 1.1% 1.4% 0.7%
Portland, OR 280,933 4.4% 3.9% 4.9% 2.8%

One question we have is how does the Census Bureau count workers that use bus bike racks?  Are they counted as public transit commuters, as bicyclists or both?

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7 Responses to “How many bike to work in Detroit?”

  1. john Says:

    i don’t do it as often as the weather has dictated it this fall. maybe once a week at the most now between clawson and pleasant ridge.

    for me fall is mtb weather and winter becomes snowboard weather.

  2. Suzanne Says:

    Those are some stark numbers–we’ve got a long way to go. Thanks for posting this, Todd.

  3. The Erie Hiker » 13.8% of Ann Arborites Walk to Work Says:

    […] […]

  4. LeftinFlint Says:

    Do you have any stats for Flint and/or Genesee County?

  5. Todd Scott Says:

    The numbers for Flint and Genesee County are now added to the original table.

  6. Todd Scott Says:

    The following comment was emailed via Alex:

    when I look at the walk to work # for ann arbor I immediately think of collegiate students working on campus or a local business to meet expenses of college life. Maybe thats a stereotype for ann arbor, but its the logic I have for the high number.

    When I look at Detroit’s walk to work #, I think about the importance of city building via economic and acedemic centers. University of Detroit-Mercy, Marygrove, WC3D campuses and WSU all provide local centers for jobs and acedemics, but retail investiment and residential development has not surfaced around some of those centers (WSU the exception because its in midtown next to the large Medical Center). Maybe focusing on density and transportation connections at these academic centers in Detroit could improve the numbers.

    I know that its a difficult answer to improve towards, and I dont have the big investiment dollars to make that happen. Some understanding the micro-economics and moving towards improving the local value of business and quality of life could help our neighborhoods grow and improve.

  7. Bob Says:

    I decided to compare to Cincinnati and the county I live in immediately above Cincy. Yikes! Cincinnati is 0.3% that bike and Warren County is 0% that bike to work…. aye carrumba!!

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