DOWNTOWN — The number of people biking to work in Chicago has more than doubled since the year 2000, the U.S. Census reported Thursday.
Currently, some 15,780 workers in the city use their bike to commute, or 1.3 percent of all workers. In 2000, some 5,960 workers used bikes, or 0.5 percent, the Census said.
Across the country, the number of people who used a bike to commute increased roughly over 60 percent, the Census said.
"In recent years, many communities have taken steps to support more transporation options, such as bicycling and walking," said Brian McKenzie, the report's author.
"For example, many cities have invested in bike-share programs, bike lanes and more pedestrian-friendly streets," McKenzie said.
Among the 50 largest cities, Portland, Oregon, had the highest bicycle-commuting rate, at 6.1 percent (up from 1.8 percent in 2001). Minneapolis was second among big cities, with 4.1 percent, up from 1.9 percent.
The current numbers are based on data analyzed from 2008 to 2012.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel's "Cycling Plan 2020" calls for the creation of a 645-mile network of on-street bikeways.
When the city report was released in 2012, Emanuel said his vision was "to make Chicago the most bike-friendly city," vowing to "build more protected bike lanes than any other city in the country, redesign intersections to ensure they are safer for bicyclists and improve hundreds of miles of residential streets for bicyclists, pedestrians and the people that live on them."
That city plan stated that the idea behind increasing the number of bike commuters is to make riders feel safe.
Currently, Chicago has more than 200 miles of on-street, protected, buffered and shared bike lanes, according to the city's Transportation. It also has 18½ miles of trails along the lakefront.
In 2013, the city installed 19 miles of protected bike lanes, bringing the total to 49 miles, officials said. Twenty more miles of protected bike lanes will be instralled this spring and summer, Emanuel said in April. Another 30 miles are planned for later this year and early 2015, the city said.
The city's short-term plans can be found here.
The Census report also looked at people reporting walking to work.
In Chicago, 5.7 percent reported walking to commute in 2000; for the latest time period, it was 6.4 percent. Nationally, it was about 2.9 percent, statistically unchanged from 10 years ago, the report said.
The report found that nationally:
• The highest number of workers using bikes to commute are between 16 and 24.
• Men tended to bike for work at twice the rate of women.
• Generally, the less one makes the more likely he is to bike to work, though the Census noted a slight uptick among people with household incomes over $150,000.
• Workers who live in cities are more likely to bike and walk than those living in suburban or rural areas.
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