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Commuting trends in Pittsburgh: How do we rank?

How do Pittsburghers get to work? Comparisons of the 60 largest cities.

After reading this article in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, we started wondering just how Pittsburgh ranked compared to the rest of the country. Once we realized that this data isn’t processed, we had to take matters into our own hands and do it ourselves. This data is pulled from the 60 largest US cities, which also happens to be all cities with a population over 300,000.

The numbers are quite revealing, and honestly, surprised us a bit.

Here are some highlights.

  • Commuting by Bicycle: We are tied for 17th with .8%. Not so bad considering how little bicycling infrastructure there is compared to the top 16. And how many of them have our hills and snow to contend with?
  • Walking: We are ranked #2 with a whopping 12.4%! Just think, these are all potential cyclists.
  • No car available: We’re #8 with 14.7% of us living car-free
  • Drove Alone: 53.1% of us drive to work in a single occupancy vehicle. This puts us at 7th lowest in the nation.
  • Public Transit: 21.1% take public transit as our main mode to work, putting us as in 7th place.

To us, these numbers mean that the city needs to take some steps to address how it’s citizens use the streets, sidewalks, public transit, and trails.

On the one hand, we feel that we can be doing a lot better. Even though only 53% of us are driving alone to work, that is still a huge amount of single occupancy vehicles. A quick glance at Fifth and Forbes in Oakland during rush hour will show us that we need to reduce this demographic. European countries have taken steps toward this goal, so could we.

On the other hand, compared to the rest of the country, we’re not doing so bad. This is justification for dedicating a higher percentage of the city’s budget to bicycle and pedestrian improvements, and not just on automobile improvements, which mostly help those who are driving in to the city. It shows that there are already a lot of people that are walking, taking transit, biking, so more should be done to accommodate these Pittsburghers and keep them safe. It also means that Pittsburgh could adopt and get support for a complete streets policy, like other cities who want to support and encourage pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users have done.

All of this data is taken from the U.S. Census’ American Community Survey.
The categories not included with this table are: carpooled, taxi motorcycle other, and worked at home. These categories didn’t vary much from city to city.

To sort by category, simply click on the different heading.

10 responses to “Commuting trends in Pittsburgh: How do we rank?”

  1. gimpPAC says:

    hmm, I noticed that even though we are down in the lowest 8 cities to drive solo, New York and Washington D.C. are the lowest…and they still seem to have the most traffic density problems. You would think that this data would mean quite the opposite?

  2. erok says:

    Remember, this data is compiling how residents of a given city travel to work, not how people who work in a given city travel to work. your two examples, nyc and DC, also rank as #1 and #2 respectively for the category of “no car available.” given that the traffic is terrible in those cities, it indicates that the traffic is mostly from non-city residents, from the ‘burbs. this is probably why nyc was able to even get a conversation going about congestion pricing.

  3. meaculpa says:

    Very informative, thanks Erok. I am going to link to this page & send it around, lotsa grist for the mill.

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