California cities and bicycle commuters

I’m looking at the LAB’s just released 2010 data on bicycle commute mode share. The LAB analyzed U.S. Census American Community Survey data from 375 cities to estimate the numbers of bike commuters in those cities. Davis, California tops the list with 22% of workers commuting by bike. A few other California cities tops Seattle’s 3.5% mode share, while several tie for last with places like Akron, OH and Amarillo, TX.

The top California cities for bike commuters are:

Read Me: Caveats!

There are some important things to keep in mind while reviewing the ACS data.

First of all, the survey asks only for the primary commute mode, which is the part of your commute that takes you the furthest. For me, this means I’m counted as a transit user, not a bike rider. People who bike twice a week aren’t counted. The 4,000 cyclists who take Caltrain every day aren’t counted. The 4,000 people who put their bikes on VTA bus bike racks and the 3,000 who bring their bikes onto VTA light rail each day aren’t counted as cyclists.

Second, the sample sizes are small so margins of error are huge. In San Jose, for example, the margin of error is 27%.

Finally, remember the data are for the ‘principal city,’ not for the larger Metropolitan area.

Mountain View Caltrain evening commute
  • Davis 22%
  • Berkeley 8%
  • Santa Barbara 6.4%
  • Chico 5.5%
  • Pasadena 4.8%
  • Mountain View 4.1%
  • San Francisco 3.5%
  • Sacramento 2.5%
  • Santa Monica 2.1%

At the bottom of the list, bike commuters make up only 0.1% of the commuting public in several California cities. They are:

  • Mission Viejo
  • Salinas
  • Compton
  • San Leandro
  • West Covina
  • Bakersfield

Bike commuter mode share in the San Francisco Bay Area for 2010:

  • Berkeley 8%
  • Mountain View 4.1%
  • San Francisco 3.5%
  • San Mateo 2.1%
  • Oakland 1.8%
  • Livermore 1.3%
  • Alameda 1.3%
  • Santa Clara 1.2%
  • Sunnyvale 1.0%
  • Santa Rosa 0.9%
  • San Jose 0.6%
  • Pleasonton 0.6%
  • Napa 0.4%
  • Fremont 0.3%
  • Fairfield 0.2%
  • Richmond 0.2%
  • Vallejo 0.2%
  • Milpitas 0.2%
  • San Leandro 0.1%
  • Hayward 0.1%


  1. The 5-year estimates (for 2006-2010) will be released soon. This has a larger sample size and thus is more reliable. You can then compare this to the previous 5-year estimate (2005-2009). 

  2. Did you happen to notice that Los Angeles (16,101) has more bicycle commuters than San Francisco (15,208). It has a lower percentage of commuters, .9% vs. 3.5%, but ranks 3rd for quantity of bicycling commuters.

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