What happens in Vegas stays in cages

Like two incredibly boring ships passing in the night, I had some pro-forma fun with John Burke’s 5% mode share challenge at Interbike a few nights ago, while the Bureau of the Census was simultaneously releasing 2011 one-year American Community Survey estimates. Faster than you can say, “isn’t it non-Alanis ironic,” I fired up the Factfinder* to see how the home of Interbike stacked up.

Residents of Las Vegas (just the city, not the broader sprawling mass) use a bicycle as their primary means of commuting to/from work an estimated 0.3% (+/- .2%) of the time. And folks with an interest in advancing women cycling might be disappointed to note that women commute by bicycle an estimated 0.0% (+/- .2%) of the time.** Blurg.

Many within the bike industry have been grousing for years about the Vegas siting of Interbike. There are many practical and defensible reasons why it continues there (and will apparently continue through at least 2015). But for many bikeshop owners and employees, Interbike is their only trip out of town for the year. If Mr. Burke and Bikes Belong want the industry (and the local bikeshop part of that industry in particular) to take on a far more active advocacy role, they can start by urging Interbike to morph into an opportunity to give the people in the industry to what cities must look like to get bike modeshare to 5% of all*** trips (Portland OR, Palo Alto CA, Vancouver BC, etc), and stop shipping them out to talk about radical change in an environment that is emblematic of the exact opposite.

*Maybe it’s just me, but I find Factfinder to be an absolute nightmare to work with, especially for simple queries. Cyclelicious posted some really nice straightforward instructions for pulling summary modeshare info, and your Federal Highway Administration posted some summary charts on largest modeshare changes from 2000 to 2010. And no, Vegas/Clark County is not among the Top 30 gainers either.

**These estimates are highly variable (and thus, quite unreliable) due to their small sample size and short time span. There are also many issues with the ACS methodology, chiefly that it only measures the primary mode of transportation used in a given week, so that bike trips to a rail station, or biking once or twice a week, likely does not get counted.¬† The Bike League had a more thorough explanation of this stuff when last year’s data was released.

***Mr. Burke’s challenge to reach 5% of ALL trips is not quite comparable to the ACS measurement of just commute-to-work trips. The National Household Travel Survey measures all trips, but does not collect sufficient survey responses report down to the city level.

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One Response to What happens in Vegas stays in cages

  1. There are also many problems with the ACS technique, generally that it only actions the main method of transport used in a given weeks time, so that bicycle visits to a railroad station

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