Just how many Denverites commute to work via transit? How about bicycle? How do the commuting choices of Denver workers compare to those of workers in other cities?
The Transport Politic, an impressive blog covering national transportation issues, recently took up the question of metropolitan mode share. Using detailed information from American Community Survey for the 30 largest metropolitan areas, they produced data on the percentage of commuters who get to work via each mode of travel. I’ve taken the liberty of copying TTP’s spreadsheet and sorting it to produce rankings for each mode.
It’s important to note that these rankings are only for job trips, and that they cover all job trips within the metropolitan area (not only the ones downtown).
So where does Denver rank?
In terms of the percentage of workers who get to work by driving alone, Denver is an impressive 11th lowest. 76% of Denverites drive to work alone, which is solidly within the “better than average” part of the rankings. Detroit (84%) is the worst, and New York (50%) is the best.
The next largest chunk of workers in Denver commute by carpooling. 9.5% of Denver area workers carpool, which is good for 17th most in the United States. That puts Denver at slightly below average for the 30 largest cities, but in this case being below average is actually a good thing, because it means people are being even more efficient and using transit. Riverside, CA (15.6%) tops the carpooling list, and New York (7%) is at the bottom.
Speaking of transit, Denver ranks a slightly above average 13th out of 30, with 4.6%. New York (30.5%) is the highest, and Kansas City (1.2%) the lowest. Out of the 19 cities on the list that lack heavy subway systems, Denver is an impressive 5th. When FasTracks opens and more of Denver becomes accessible via rapid transit, we can expect to approach the overall top 10.
Not very many Denverites walk to work. Our 2.2% walk share is only good for 16th place. New York (6.3%) is tops, and Orlando (1.0%) is the bottom. And while even fewer people bike to work, fewer still do so in almost every other American city. Denver’s bike share of 0.72% is good for 10th highest nationally, compared to a high of 1.13% in Portland and a low of 0.13% in Dallas.
Overall, it is clear that Denver performs relatively well compared to the national average. We’re in the top half in three out of five data sets, and in the top 2/3 of all of them. Given that the Denver region has only the 20th most workers, we are hitting “above our weight” in every single category.
That said, it’s also clear that Denver has a long way to go if we want to catch up with the national leaders. We only hit the top 10 in one category, and then only just barely. Programs like FasTracks and Denver B-Cycle are moving us in the right direction, but we still have a long way to go.