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Bicycle commuting on the rise in the U.S.

More people are biking to work in the U.S., but the number is still small.

By no means can you say that the United States is a country that, as a whole, prefers to commute by bike. Nearly five times as many people walk to work than bike, eight times as many take some form of public transportation, and 140 times as many drive than bike.

But does that mean all the recent investment in bicycle infrastructure (like Citi Bike in New York or Chicago's bike lane building binge) is for nothing?

Not exactly. Despite being one of the least popular forms of commuting (only motorcycles and taxicabs are less popular) the number of people choosing to bike to work is steadily rising. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey an estimated 864,883 people commuted by bicycle in 2012. That's only 0.61 percent of all commutes. But as the League of American Bicyclists points out, that's a 10 percent increase from 2011, the largest increase since 2007-2008, and a 61.6 percent increase since 2000.

Even with the increased bike commuters, it's not the only number to consider when deciding whether bike infrastructure is a worth the investment in sprawling U.S. cities. A study by the (admittedly biased) League of American Bicyclists from 2009 shows the bicycling industry has a major positive impact on the U.S. economy. Those stats should undoubtedly increase with more interest in biking.

And there should also be plenty of room for growth in the biking industry. Even with popular biking cities like Portland and Minneapolis, there are no U.S. cities on the list of most bike-friendly cities in the world. Aiming to get on the same level as some of the world's best bike cities would only increase the number of bikers and its impact on the economy.

Photo: Flickr/W.D. Vanlue

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com