Region Forward Blog

Bike to Work Day: A Catalyst for a Permanent Change in Commuting Patterns

May 5, 2011


While we’re sure most of our readers have already signed up for Bike to Work Day 2011 if you haven’t had the chance you can go ahead and register now. Bike to Work Day has grown from a small event with a few hundred participants when it began over a decade ago to a region-wide event in which over 9000 people took part last year. Surely the program’s expansion into more parts of the District Maryland and Virginia was a catalyst for some of that growth but a general momentum in favor of biking is certainly responsible for a large part as well.

As we wrote back in April the number of folks biking to work in metro Washington has grown by 86% over the past ten years. That increase combined with the immense popularity of Capital Bikeshare has led BTWD organizers (Commuter Connections and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association or WABA) to anticipate more than 10000 participants in this year’s event.

That itself is great news; however the impact on long-term behavior changes that BTWD creates is a magnitude larger. According to stats presented at the recent Transportation Planning Board meeting in 2010 17% of participants surveyed said that they had never commuted to work by bike before participating in BTWD 22% started biking to work more often after participating and 10% made it a regular commute mode.

10% may not sound like much but when the pot we’re starting from is 9000 that means over 900 folks made bicycling a primary commute mode after participating in last year’s BTWD (and nearly 2000 people starting biking to work more often). If more than 10000 folks participate this year as expected that means we could see an additional 1000 new daily bicycle commuters in metro Washington. That’s the basis for real change. Take part and keep the momentum going by registering for BTWD 2011 now and encourage friends family and colleagues to do as well!

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