Denver’s Bicycle Commuter Mode Share Increases 20% in 2012

According to the recently released results of the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, Denver saw an impressive 20% increase in the numbers of people choosing bicycling as their primary way to commute to work in 2012. Bicycle commuter mode share rose from 2.6% of the population in 2011 to 2.9% of the population in 2012. The numbers are even more significant when looked at in the context of the past six years. In 2007, just 1.6% of the city’s population chose bicycling as their primary commuter mode. That number has steadily climbed every year to the point where we now see nearly 10,000 people bicycling to work each day in Denver.

Graph courtesy of the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Committee member David Rapp

Denver’s increasing number of people choosing bicycles for transportation makes sense. The city has had more 25- to 35-year-olds migrate here than any other U.S. city and this demographic is increasingly choosing walking, biking and transit over automobiles for transportation.  We owe a great deal of this success to a progressive city leadership with a Mayor, City Council and key department managers endorsing multi-modal transportation. Denver’s city officials understand the importance of building a city that is sustainable, healthy, and multi-modal in nature. The opening of the 15th Street Bikeway in August is a tribute to this leadership.

Councilman Albus Brooks and Crissy Fanganello, Director of Public Works Planning and Policy, on opening day of the 15th Street Bikeway

What Denver has done over the past 6 years is invest in multi-modal transportation infrastructure, steadily increasing the number bike lanes each year from 60 miles in 2007 to over 120 miles in 2013. The graph below shows that the increase in bicycle infrastructure investment correlates strongly with the increase in bicycle commuter mode share. For cities looking to diversify commuter mode share beyond the automobile, “Build it and they will come” has borne fruit. As in other cities around the world, Denver has found that building a safe, well-connected bicycle network encourages significantly greater numbers of people to commute on bicycles.

Graph courtesy of the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Committee member David Rapp

Over the next few weeks, City Council and the Mayor will work out the details of the 2014 city budget. Currently, the Mayor’s proposed budget includes 2.5 additional employees to work on the implementation of DenverMoves, the city’s plan for bicycle infrastructure connectivity. Denver’s City Council has also identified increasing bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure as a key budget priority for 2014. Under their leadership, we can expect the upward trend in people choosing healthy, sustainable modes of transportation to continue to rise in the Mile High City. This is a trend that will make Denver a healthier more livable city for current and future generations.

By | 2016-12-27T21:17:01+00:00 September 26, 2013|Categories: Bicycles, Infrastructure, Sustainability|Tags: |10 Comments


  1. Brent September 26, 2013 at 6:07 am

    Where does the 20% figure come from. A mode share increase from 2.6 to 2.9 is an 11.5% increase, no?

    • mckillio September 26, 2013 at 9:58 am

      Even more confusing is that the graph goes from 2.4% to 2.9%, still not quite 20% (17%).

      • Aaron September 26, 2013 at 1:41 pm

        No it’s around 20%: ((2.9-2.4)/2.4) * 100 = 20.83% percentage increase.

        I think you plugged in the numbers for a decrease (2.4-2.9)/2.9) * 100 = -17.24%

        The ACS reported 2.4% mode share in 2011. The 2.6 must have been a typo by the author of the blog.

  2. Bryan September 26, 2013 at 10:48 am

    Um..did they run out of green paint? that’s barely visible when driving down 15th! I’m all for this…but go ALL the way…paint the lane Denver!

    • James September 27, 2013 at 8:57 am

      Very exciting! Can’t wait to use the 15th street bike lane. Haven’t had the necessity/opportunity yet.

      Hope to see more of these.. And as commented… More paint!

    • UrbanZen September 27, 2013 at 10:50 am

      The other day I was driving down 15th and some dude was riding his bike down the middle of the 2nd traffic lane. I kept thinking he must be trying to move through traffic to make a right turn, but no…he just rode the whole way like that to Larimer. And there was pretty heavy traffic, about 20 cars had to get over to pass him. I’m a big fan of bike lanes, but I think the city should agressively ticket idiots who blantantly disregard established bike infrastrutre. It’s a double whammy to auto traffic when you reduce capacity and still have bikes slowing down the remaining lanes.

      • Mark B September 27, 2013 at 4:48 pm

        Amen! Although I haven’t been on 15th lately, my partner has, and he says he sees this happening all the time.

  3. John Hayden September 26, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Author here:-) Yes the 2.4% was a typo and has been corrected. Sorry about that. I had the graph creator double check his math and 20.83% increase is correct. Thanks!

    • Brent September 26, 2013 at 5:41 pm

      Thanks for the clarification!

  4. Pat Rafferty November 4, 2013 at 11:10 am

    I have no affiliation with this Kickstarter, but it seems like seems like something your audience might be interested in, given the intersection of bicycling and public transit:

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