By Emily Badger, October 28, 2013
The Institute for Quality Communities
at the University of Oklahoma recently dug through the latest Census
metrics on how Americans commute to work, a dataset locally notable for
the fact that Tulsa and Oklahoma City don't compare all that well.
Relative to the 60 largest cities in America, Oklahoma City ranks last
in the share of commuters – 2.2 percent of them – who get to work by
biking, walking or transit. That's as much a reflection of the design of
the city as the preferences of its commuters: Simply put, Oklahoma City
was built for cars.
In the process of unearthing this ignoble distinction, IQC fellow Shane Hampton also posted some nice visualizations of how major cities stack up against each other
by commuter mode share. The data comes from the 2012 American Community
Survey, which records how people primarily get to and from their jobs
(not necessarily how they make all of their daily trips, to destinations
like the grocery store or church). The original charts are interactive,
with individual data points. But we've pulled out a few here as well.
New York, not surprisingly, has the highest share of non-car commuters (67 percent):
Cities listed in order from largest to smallest percentage of commutes by biking, walking or transit.
Breaking that down by region and individual mode share, here is the
Northwest, the Midwest, and the Southeast. Beware, each scale is
And here is a range of cities – from notably different climates,
Hampton points out – where biking mode share has significantly increased
in the last decade: