Bike Ridership Booms in Some Unlikely Cities

A fitness tracking app reports dramatic increases in bike ridership since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

September 24, 2020, 10:00 AM PDT

By Lee Flannery @leecflannery


Texas Bike Lane

Brett Holmes / Shutterstock

Fitness tracking app Strava is recording year-over-year surges in bike ridership since COVID-19 lockdown with impressive accuracy.

The cities with the greatest reported increase in bike ridership aren't the cycle gear-clad cities typically making waves in the bike world. "Houston and Los Angeles, two sprawling metropolises where just .5% and 1% of the respective populations biked to work in pre-pandemic times, stand out. In Houston, the total volume of cycling trips in Houston was 138% higher in May 2020 than in May 2019. In Los Angeles, the jump was 93%," writes Laura Bliss.

Strava's 68 million global users are telling a digital, data-laden story of increased bike usage consistent with research by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Even cycling experts and advocates confirm that "Strava numbers are consistent with data from local bike-counters and bike-share systems," Bliss reports. 

Bliss notes one city notably missing from the list of cities with ridership increases: Portland. Despite a reputation for bike-friendliness, Portland saw year-over-year declines in bike ridership. There is speculation that protests or the canceled Seattle-to-Portland bike ride could be the cause of the drop, according to Bliss. 

"Washington, D.C. also did not see the kind of surge that other cities did," says Bliss. Both Portland and Washington, D.C.'s drop could be explained by an already high level of bike commutes reduced by shelter-in-place mandates. 

For the cities that did see an increase in ridership, the question is now how to keep community members on bikes, says L.A. County Bicycle Coalition executive director  Eli Akira Kaufman.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020 in Bloomberg CityLab

Chicago Commute

Planning for Congestion Relief

The third and final installment of Planetizen's examination of the role of the planning profession in both perpetuating and solving traffic congestion.

May 12, 2022 - James Brasuell

Twin Cities

Minneapolis Housing Plan a Success—Not for the Reason You Think

Housing advocates praise the city’s move to eliminate single-family zoning by legalizing triplexes on single-family lots, but that isn’t why housing construction is growing.

May 13, 2022 - Reason

Single-Family Housing Construction

New White House Housing Initiative Includes Zoning Reform Incentives

The Biden administration this morning released a new program of actions intended to spur housing construction around the United States.

May 16, 2022 - The White House

University of Arizona

Proposed Transit Line Would Connect Downtown Tucson to Airport

Based on community input for a 15-mile transit line, residents want to see a focus on affordable housing development and anti-displacement measures.

May 22 - KGUN

Shuttered strip mall in Niland, California

Strip Malls as a Housing Solution

The American strip mall may be a dying breed of commercial development, but could the buildings serve a new use as sustainable housing?

May 22 - Yale Environment 360

Complete Street Vancouver

Study: Most of Vancouver Is a ‘15-Minute City’

A large majority of Vancouver residents can access a grocery store in 15 minutes or less by bicycle or on foot.

May 20 - Vancouver Sun

HUD’s 2022 Innovative Housing Showcase

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Expanding HUD’s Eviction Protection Grant Program

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

New Updates on The Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.