Cause for thanks: Bicycling, at least, already brings the country together

November 24, 2016

Michael Andersen, local innovation staff writer

Bicycle commute rates by county across the United States. Image by MapMakerBot.

It’s been a rough month for those of us who have a patriotic faith in the ability of Americans to get along with each other.

That includes the team here at PeopleForBikes. Our website is red, white and blue for a reason.

But if you, like us, need a break from all the maps separating our country into red and blue teams, look at this one. It shows the approximate percentage of people who bike to work in every county in the country. Based on average Census figures from 2010-2014, it was semi-randomly created last week by the automated Twitter account MapMakerBot. Here’s a full-size version.

Sometimes it takes a robot to find something useful to say.

This isn’t a map of cities versus suburbs or urban areas versus small towns. It’s not a map of skin color or language or religion. It’s mostly a map of geography — prairies and mountains and deserts. Redwood forests and Gulf Stream waters.

In some places, bikes just aren’t practical transportation. In a lot of places, they are. And where they’re practical, more people tend to use them. Doesn’t so much matter who you are.

It’s worth noting that there are a lot of differences this map doesn’t show. The national bike-commuting rate is just one in 200 (0.5 percent). To show up here in the darkest shade of green, a county needs only an above-average biking rate. Still, it’s comforting to be reminded that above-average biking rates happen in all sorts of different places.

This land is your land; this land is my land. We probably disagree on a lot of important things. But that doesn’t mean we can’t meet for a ride some time and enjoy it together.

The Green Lane Project helps U.S. cities build better bike lanes to create low-stress streets. You can follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook or sign up for our weekly news digest about protected bike lanes. Story tip? Write [email protected]

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