Bicycle commuting still paltry in Atlanta

We keep hearing about bike movement in Atlanta and the accommodations being made to help cyclists get around more safely on city streets.

However, New Census Bureau estimates from the American Community Survey for 2014 show that relatively few people are benefiting from these efforts. Bicyclists accounted for only two-tenths of a percent of commuters in the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell metropolitan statistical area.

So in real numbers, that's 4,064 of the area's 2.6 million commuters. For just the city of Atlanta proper, the portion of bicycle commuters was only slightly higher, at seven-tenths of a percent.

Full disclosure: these figures only include commuters (people traveling to and from work). As such, they don't take into consideration trips made to run errands, socialize or recreate; nor trips made by children, out-of-work adults or retirees. Combined trips that include both bicycling and transit do not count as a bicycle commute.

That's a major drawback since it means the data only accounts for about a fifth of the overall trips people make.

The data is still eye-opening, because it's the most reliable way to measure and compare how a city's commuting trends are changing from year to year.

The figures show that 88 percent of metro Atlantans drive to work, and 77 percent drive alone. Only 3 percent take transit. (So Georgia Commute Options has their work cut out for them.)

Many will argue that the community of bicycle commuters is so small because there are still so few safe areas to ride around town. If more protected bike lanes were installed, more people would ride. Doubtlessly so.

But consider this. Even Portland, the bicycling haven with the highest percentage of pedal-pushing commuters, and the city so many others want to emulate, just barely cracked the 7 percent threshold for bicycle commuters last year.

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