Published on November 3rd, 2013 | by Nicholas Brown


US Cities In Which The Fewest People Drive To Work

November 3rd, 2013 by  

The US is such a large country, that it has co-cultures and is almost like multiple countries in one. As a part of that, people’s habits and the accessibility of transportation options vary significantly throughout the country.

For example, in Oklahoma City, only 2.2% of people travel to work without cars. Tulsa and Fort Worth are tied just an edge above that. Notably, Tulsa is also in Oklahoma — its second-largest city. Meanwhile, in New York City, 67% of people travel to work without cars. It’s a world of difference.

Leading the nation at 67%, NYC’s subway system and density are surely big parts of that. There is also the fact that intense congestion (largely a result of high density) in some parts of the city can deter people from driving, as they don’t appreciate long waits in traffic.

The Institute For Quality Communities, which is at the University of Oklahoma, gathered data from Census metrics of how Americans usually travel to work to come to  the above conclusions. Here are more of their findings:


Percentage of commutes done by bike, public transportation, and foot.
Image Credit: IQC.

Next are charts where it is broken down by region and individual mode share. Here’s the Northeast & Mid-Atlantic:

Image Credit: IQC.

 The Midwest:


Image Credit: IQC.

The Southeast:


Image Credit: IQC.

Finally, here are cities where bike transportation increased significantly over the last decade:


Image Credit: IQC.

Congratulations to these cities for their strong and effective support for bicycling. Let’s see if these cities can surpass New York’s public transportation usage rate someday!

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

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About the Author

writes on CleanTechnica, Gas2, Kleef&Co, and Green Building Elements. He has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, and geography. His website is:

  • Benjamin Nead

    I’ve lived in Tucson, Arizona for just over 30 years now. When I arrived here in 1983 as a 25 year old, the only sort of transportation I could afford was a borrowed (from a friend who also provided me work back then) 15 speed Italian racer bike. In addition to my wife’s car, it was how I got around for the first 3 years. Middle age and a little more economic prosperity got our household a 2nd car and I put utility-oriented bike riding out of mind for the next 26 years.

    In late 2012, though, I bought a used bicycle (a Montague folder mountain bike that’s been morphing into a pretty nice street ride) and have pleasantly surprised myself as to how much I missed by being almost totally car dependent for over a quarter century up till then. A year ago, I didn’t even know how often I would be riding. But it has now allowed me to park my car for weeks at a time. I not only get some well-needed exercise by doing a 6 mile round trip work commute most days (never a bad thing for a 55 year old,) I actually save time by not making a short car drive and then having to walk the last mile (parking a car on the University of Arizona Campus, where I’m employed, is both expensive and inconvenient.) The other upside, of course, is that I’m putting just that much less carbon dioxide and particulates into the air by cycling instead of driving.

    So, my story is one tiny part of the 26th place national ranking I see that Tucson has gotten as a bike use city and part of that significant upward trend overall witnessed here in the past decade. Fortunately, most of Tucson is flat and the year round weather is fabulous (save for summers that are always too hot for comfort.) Until I can afford to replace my very old gas guzzler with an EV, I might consider an e-bike for the hottest days. Even after I get my electric car, though, I anticipate that I’ll still choose to bicycle whenever I can.

  • Wayne Williamson

    Interesting that Tampa even shows up. Use to be that most of the roads had no bike path. Biking was taking your life in your hands. I have noticed a great improvement in the roads for bikes.

  • Omar Ramirez

    Graphs are not the very best work I’ve seen.

  • SirSparks

    I lost interest in the charts after I found the first one extremely difficult to work with. In fact I couldn’t even click on a named city to find its driving percentages. Pretty rainbow colors though, 10 out of 10 for art.

    • Benjamin Nead

      The charts in the above article are not the interactive versions, SirSparks. A hyperlink in the caption of that first hard-to-read one, though, takes you here . . .

      After the above page opens, scroll down to the bottom and drag your mouse over that version of the graph for a rather impressive interactive effect.

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