Some Surprises in Sightline's Commuter Analysis

By Erica C. Barnett October 7, 2010

The real nerds are over at Sightline, where Eric de Place has crunched some recently released Census numbers about how people get to work* in the Northwest.

Some surprises:

• Eugene, OR has by far the highest percentage of commuters who get to work by bike: 10.8 percent**, more than three points ahead of second runner-up Missoula, MT (7.2 percent). Seattle, in case you're wondering, was way back in sixth (behind even Boise, Idaho), with 3 percent of people getting to work by bike.

•Those numbers were also consistent by state, with Washington State dead last among the four Northwest states, which ranked: Oregon (2.3 percent), Montana (1.7 percent), Idaho (1.2 percent), Washington (0.9 percent).

• Seattle did better when it comes to the number of people who walk to work, ranking second (at 7.7 percent) behind Bellingham (8.7 percent).

• We actually ranked at the top of the list in commutes by public transit, with an impressive-by-West-Coast-standards 19.5 percent of commuters riding the bus or train to work. Bellevue (14.2 percent) and Portland (11.5 percent). Portland and Seattle aren't surprising---they're large cities with decent public transit---but Bellevue? Sounds like their anti-transit city council is out of touch with their constituents.

• Perhaps in keeping with our high public-transit numbers, it turns out people in Seattle don't tend to carpool---just 9.6 of Seattle commuters drive HOV, putting us in 15th place behind first-place Kennewick (!), with 16.3 percent (!!) and Puget Sound cities like Tacoma (in fifth place with 12.6 percent), Everett (in sixth with 11.8 percent) and Kent (in ninth with 11.1 percent).

Get the full breakdown here.

* Limitations on the figures, including the fact that they refer to typical travel mode during a specific "reference week," described on page 86 of this document.

** Margins of error vary from city to city, presumably because each city has a different sample size.

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