University of Minnesota

Access Across America: Biking 2020

Investments in biking routes continue to yield benefits in U.S. metros

bike at crosswalk and stoplight

Photo: Michael McCarthy/CTS

Access Across America: Biking 2020 provides comparisons with accessibility data from the previous year in ranking the 50 largest U.S. metros for connecting workers with jobs via bicycle. Transportation planners and policymakers can use these findings to better coordinate investments in bicycle facilities with the location of jobs and housing to improve job accessibility.

This year’s rankings are based on data collected just prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study incorporates traffic stress and cycling comfort in its evaluation of access to destinations by bicycle. According to the study, low-stress routes are separated bike lanes and paths. Medium-stress routes include all bike infrastructure — including on-street unprotected bike lanes, certain shared lanes, and bicyclists mixing with traffic on some non-arterial streets.

Some significant changes were observed in certain cities compared to the previous study: access to jobs by low-stress bicycle routes increased dramatically in #1 ranked Seattle 86% and in #2 ranked Boston by 80%. Access to jobs by medium-stress bicycle routes in #1 ranked Milwaukee jumped by 45% and in #2 ranked Orlando by 35%. Some other metro areas witnessed the opposite with Medium-stress and Low-stress access dropping significantly in Columbus and Las Vegas. Washington DC and Charlotte are examples of metro areas where low-stress access increased at the same time that medium-stress access decreased.

Overall, access to jobs by low-stress bicycle routes in the 45 largest U.S. metros increased and access to jobs via medium-stress bicycle routes in 43 U.S. cities increased. The two main factors that explain significant changes in bicycle access are changes to the bike network and job growth and migration.

For the average-length bike commute, the Twin Cities ranks ninth nationally by low-stress bike access to jobs. On average, Twin Cities workers willing to bike on all bicycle facilities, and in some slower mixed traffic, can reach approximately 60,244 jobs within 30 minutes by bike.

The overall number of bicycle commuters has increased nearly 22% since 2010.

All data used in this report were collected during or before January 2020, and thus reflect conditions before the U.S. experienced significant disruption to transportation networks, travel behavior, employment, and land use during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because future editions of this report will include data reflecting conditions at various points during the pandemic, the 2020 results may provide a useful baseline for evaluating the impact that COVID-19 had on access across America.

Greatest accessibility to jobs: Low-Stress

  1. New York
  2. San Francisco
  3. Boston
  4. Portland
  5. Seattle
  6. Los Angeles
  7. Chicago
  8. Washington
  9. Minneapolis
  10. Denver

Greatest accessibility to jobs: Medium-Stress

  1. New York
  2. San Francisco
  3. Chicago
  4. Los Angeles
  5. Boston
  6. Washington
  7. Seattle
  8. Denver
  9. San Jose
  10. Portland

More information

The research is sponsored by the National Accessibility Evaluation Pooled-Fund Study, a multi-year effort led by the Minnesota Department of Transportation and supported by partners including the Federal Highway Administration and additional state DOTs.

The Accessibility Observatory is a program of the Center for Transportation Studies.