Saturday, October 10, 2009

Bike-Burgh... or not?

Bike Pittburgh is getting lots of notice for putting together a neat list of transit/bike usage for the largest American cities. It certainly is worth checking out and is some good info.

I say this sadly.. , but is the metric saying something good about the city?  I say this with just a smidge of bike cred (I hope), but the answer is maybe not.  With the population within the city continuing to decline, there is a real question who is choosing to continue to live in the city.  Those who are moving out I suspect are those who can and do commute by car more than those you travel by other means. Thus what you are seeing is a city left with a greater and greater concentration of students in all forms and elderly... two groups that are most likely to either not have a car or who are likely to travel by bike or walking. In that light the high showing of bike/ped users in the city has a more ambiguous interpretation. When you look for the region as a whole, the decline in transit usage has been one of the steepest declines as there has been among metro regions in recent decades.  Not much evidence any that trend has changed over the last few years. Even within the city, with the demand for car parking near satiation...  ditto. 

The census data the bikePgh folks pulled was for commuting compiled by residents.  If you want to see some similar data (if dated back to 2000) of commuting patterns by place of work for individual city neighborhoods and municipalities in Allegheny.  I also once made a map posted here of public transit usage in the county fwiw.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I say this sadly.. , but is metric saying something good sign for the city?

Taking a shrinking population as a sunk cost, I'd much rather live in a city with bike lanes and bus routes than otherwise.

Saturday, October 10, 2009 3:21:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

Thus what you are seeing is a city left with a greater and greater concentration of students in all forms and elderly... two groups that are most likely to either not have a car or who are likely to travel by bike or walking.

I'm thinking that the more significant common factors between the elderly and students are:

1) They don't have any primary or secondary school-aged children. I'm sure you know the demographic trends in the region better than I do, but looking at PPS enrollment trends, I'm guessing that modal 'city-leaving' family has a three or four year old child and figures dealing with the Liberty Tubes twice a day is better than $10k+ a year in tuition.

2) Students and the elderly are far less likely to be noticeably hit by the extra 3% in wage taxes.

Saturday, October 10, 2009 6:17:00 PM  

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