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Census data show increases in walking, cycling

Shamane Mills, Wisconsin Public Radio

U.S. Census data on how people get to work show an increase in walking and cycling, though it’s still only a small portion of commuter travel.

Five percent of Milwaukee's commuters were on foot, according to American Community Survey data from 2008 to 2012. Fewer were on bike there, but the number of cyclists has more than doubled since 2000.

In Madison, the popularity of cycling to work ranked right behind Portland, Ore., at 5.1 and 6.1 percent respectively. The executive director of the Bike Federation of Wisconsin, Dave Cieslewicz, expects those numbers will get even higher in the future nationwide.

“Biking and walk are the fastest growing modes of transportation,” said Cieslewicz. “While they do make up a small percentage of all the trips taken, they've increased at the rate of about 60 percent in the last decade, and that is fast outgrowing other modes of transportation.”

Although Madison made the cut, no small- or medium-sized cities in Wisconsin were listed by the Census as the top 15 places for walking or cycling to work. Cieslewicz says that doesn't mean it’s not on people's radar.

“Wisconsin does very well on the League of American Bicyclists ratings,” said Cieslewicz. “We have 12 cities. Appleton, especially, with regard to its biking infrastructure – it’s rated as a bronze city in the League of American Bicyclists. They're eager to move up on that list.”

Census data indicated most people going to work by foot or on bike had a commute between 10 and 14 minutes, and that most of them had no vehicle available.

Friday is National Bike to Work (and School) Day. Everyone is encouraged to use pedal power to travel. More than half of the population of the United States lives within five miles of their workplace, according to Environmental Education in Wisconsin, but lack of knowledge and incentive has deterred many from commuting by bike. As added incentive to bike to work or school Friday, free coffee, water and bagels will be handed out to bikers and walkers from 6:30-8:30 a.m. at Superior’s Center City Park, on the corner of Tower Avenue and Belknap Street, and Heritage Park on the corner of Hammond Avenue and North 28th Street.

Telegram reporter Maria Lockwood contributed to this story.

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