More people than ever are riding two wheels to work, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Between 2009 and 2010, Tucson saw its largest annual increase in ridership and more cyclists than ever on the roads.
Bicycle commuting in Tucson increased by more than 50 percent in one year. It went from 1.9 percent of total commuters in 2009 to 3 percent in 2010, according to data gathered from the American Community Survey, a follow-up to the census.
In Pima County, more than 7,000 people rode a bicycle to work. The survey counts workers ages 16 and older who commute on a bicycle three or more days per week.
The survey does not include school or recreational trips, or bicyclists riding for health purposes, shopping or eating out.
Matthew Zoll, bicycle and pedestrian program manager for the Pima County Department of Transportation, attributes the significant increase to a number of factors including the regional bicycle education and safety program, in which over 1,000 adults and 3,000 children take part each year learning safe and legal riding practices.
“I think this increase is in large part due to a regional bicycle education program that is the largest of its kind in the nation,” he said. “Also, additional improvements to local bike routes and the bike boulevard system as well as the addition of miles of new shared use paths and bike lanes and construction of The Loop have made getting around on two wheels easier than ever.”
The Loop is a 55-mile path being developed around Tucson, with links to Marana and Oro Valley, that connects the Rillito River Park, the Santa Cruz River Park, the Julian Wash Greenway, the Harrison Greenway and the Pantano River Park.
Visit www.pima.gov/TheLoop to learn more about the Loop.
Zoll also attributes the increase to good community events, such as El Tour, BikeFest, Tour of the Tucson Mountains and Cyclovia, as well as advocacy and advisory entities, such as the Tucson-Pima County Bicycle Advisory Committee, the Pima County/Tucson Bike Ambassador Program, the Coalition of Arizona Cyclists, Greater Arizona Bicycling Association, TucsonVelo, the Santa Cruz Valley Bicycle Advocate Committee, the Living Streets Alliance and more.
“Pima County is a great place to ride a bike,” Zoll said. “I hope these results encourage more people to give bike commuting a try. For those who need a little guidance, the county’s free bike safety classes are available to help them gain confidence on two wheels.”
For more information about the survey and regional bicycle programs, contact Ann Chanecka at the Pima Association of Governments by calling 792-1093 and Tom Thivener, City of Tucson, by calling 837-6691.
For more information about the Pima County Bicycle & Pedestrian Program and the Bike Safety Classes, visit www.bikeped.pima.gov or contact Zoll at 243-BIKE.