California bike commute modal share 2011

I posted about a Red / Blue national map of bike commuters yesterday, comparing the states vs the national average. Today, let’s look at California.

According to the US Census American Community Survey numbers for 2011, about 0.6% of Americans report riding their bicycles to work. 1.1% of Californians, by comparison, claim to bike to their jobs. This maps shows the comparative number of bike commuters for California counties. Red counties are at or below the 1.1% threshold, while blue counties have more than the state total of 1.1%.

California bike commuters

You’ll notice not all counties are represented. The yearly ACS estimates only cover places with population over 65,000, so no data is available for those sparsely populated counties in northern California and the Sierras. San Benito County (home to Hollister and San Juan Bautista) also falls just short with 56,000 residents.

The exception is San Mateo County on the San Francisco Peninsula, with a population of three quarters of a million people. I think that’s just a glitch in the mapping software. The ACS for 2011 says 1.2% of commuters in San Mateo County rode their bikes, so it would be a blue county.

Yolo County, home to Davis, has the highest percentage of bike commuters among California counties at 8%. Yuba County north of Sacramento has the lowest proportion with only an estimated 0.1% of commuters riding their bikes. Interestingly, Yuba is one of the few counties where female commuters apparently outnumber men (0.3±1.3% vs 0.0±0.6%, according to Census estimates). In Yolo County, men and women are at parity.

(I realize this stuff is boring, but I find myself Googling for this info all the time, so I’m posting here for my own convenience.)


  1. I’m surprised the San Diego area isn’t higher. I think bike commuting there would be awesome.

  2. You’d think. Even limiting the data to the city of San Diego shows only 0.9% commute by bicycle there. The highest rates seem to be in the neighborhoods near UCSD in the north part of San Diego.

    My brother is a bike commuter in San Diego, but I think he probably rides a motorcycle more than a bicycle.

  3. From the complaints I hear, San Diego is probably the worst when it comes to enforcing non-existent laws against cyclists. Some traffic police there seem to regularly harass law-abiding cyclists, and there’s one traffic court judge who always upholds those tickets.

  4. Thanks for the maps! I know there are a lot of people (incl me) who finds info like this interesting. If you have the time, can you figure out the top 10 cities for cycling in the US?

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