Jump to the intro.

Of people who are not driving alone...


How long it takes people to get to work

The average travel time for the whole Capital Region is estimated to be 22.5 minutes.


Average travel time by place

This is clickable map of Capital Region towns and cities, with info about estimated commuting travel time for people who live there.

When people leave for work

This graph doesn't include people who leave for work after 9 am. The Census lumps everyone who leaves for work between 9 am and midnight into one category. For the Capital Region, that category is estimated to include almost 24 percent of people.


Top 5 non-car commuting places


How people get to work in the Capital Region

share the road bicycle sign

The way to get to work? Not for many, but it is for some people.

This Friday, May 16 is Bike to Work Day, which seemed like a good excuse to take a look at how people get to work in the Capital Region. And, thanks to the Census Bureau, there are some numbers that can give us some sense of that.

So, let's have a look -- at how people get to work, how long it takes them, and when they leave...

There are cars, and then everything else


The overwhelming majority of people in the Capital Region get to work by car: about 88 percent, according to Census Bureau estimates. (In this case, Capital Region = the four core counties + Schoharie. MOE = margin of error.)

The table above shows the various modes of transportation with the Census estimates of what percent of workers 16 and over use that mode to get to work.

Relative to other modes of transportation, very few people in this area ride a bike to work -- though it's still about 1,300 people. (That number is squishy because the margin of error is so large relative to the estimated percentage of people.)

That's not surprising given we're looking at the whole Capital Region. If you zoom in on a few of the denser places within the region, the rates do increase a bit. But even so, Albany leads the Capital Region in the estimated percentage of people who bike to work -- and its estimate is just .9 percent. (That's about 400 people.)

More tables and graphs

There are a bunch of other Capital Region commuting bits in graphs, tables, a map above -- click or scroll all the way up.


Though the number of people nationally who bike is small, it is growing, according to a Census Bureau report out recently. And in the nation's largest cities, it figures the rate is now about 1 percent (up from .6 percent a decade ago).

The big city with the highest rate of bike commuting: Portland, Oregon, at 6.1 percent. (Surprise.)

The Census Bureau also noted that people were most likely to walk to work in the Northeast (4.7 percent) and in college towns. In fact, Ithaca, New York led the nation's small cities in the percent of people who walked to work -- 42 percent.

All numbers via the Census Bureau American Community Survey 2012 5-year.


For those of us who don’t want to bike through thunderstorms on Friday, remember that Bike to Work Day is always surrounded by Bike to Work Week (May 12-16) and Bike to Work Month (May). So you can’t go wrong. You have no excuse to stay on your butt. I’ll be biking in tomorrow but probably not Friday…

I love walking to work. But I'm lucky in that I only live less than a mile from my work. I don't think that happens very often in our culture since most people prefer to live in the suburbs and work in a city. But that's changing...slowly.

A local connection: the author of the Census Report - Brian McKenzie - received his PhD from UAlbany's Department of Sociology (and used to ride his bike to school/work).

I loved riding my Vespa to work... but OGS took away my motorcycle parking. (WTF right?)

I am thinking about riding my bike to work, but... my cyclocross bike is really a terrible commuter... :)

If Albany wants to get serious about biking, we need to install protected bike lanes or separate bike paths. We are really behind on that front compared to many other cities.

I have a 4.9 mile commute - mainly straight on Central Avenue in Albany.
If I drive, it's 12-15 minutes with traffic.
I love to walk it - it takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes (I have to get up REALLY early for that!) At the end of the work day, I want to be home ASAP, and the walk is not nearly as peaceful as early in the morning, so those days sometimes I'll take the bus.
It would be a very reasonable commute by bicycle, but there is NO WAY I'm brave enough to ride my bike in rush hour traffic on Central Avenue.

Count me in the bus/walk category. About 25 minutes all together to get home, but if I want to head downtown from work, its a quick 10 minute bus ride, and no worries on finding parking.

I agree with Paul. It's time for protected bike lanes in our region. Here's a great infographic from the People for Bikes website that provides a snapshot of 14 options that measure protection level, installation cost, durability and aesthetics: http://www.peopleforbikes.org/blog/entry/14-ways-to-make-bike-lanes-better-the-infographic

Protected bike lanes would be great. Although designs have been drawn up put Madison Avenue on a "road diet"-- changing it to two moving lanes and a turning lane in the middle, and adding bike lanes on either side-- plans for separated bike lanes were never considered. I think that most of this is financial-- the city simply does not have a lot of money.

We can push municipal representatives to move projects like the Madison Avenue redesign forward (as modest as it is), however, and there are other low-cost, common-sense measures the city can take to make biking, mass transit, and even being a pedestrian more pleasant. A city that is less car-dependent is always going to be a nicer city to live and work in.

RE: Protected bike lanes and dedicated paths; JMO, but...no. No, no, no, no...no. Not that they don't serve a purpose, and more would be great, but if you want a comprehensive bike-friendly city, that is not the place to *start*. If you want bikeability, you need to influence drivers (and riders/cyclists) with smart street design, signage, paint, etc., and by keeping bikes visible (i.e. on the streets, not quarantined to separated paths). If the roads themselves are well designed, well maintained, and drivers understand the bikes belong there, then cycling becomes a mode of transportation rather than just a recreational activity.

@Ed - From your post, it's my assumption that you are comfortable riding with traffic. (Of course, I could be wrong...that happens). You may know that here in the city of Albany we've been putting up lots of shared road markings, and it's a step. However, it isn't getting the bicycle-curious (yet traffic-timid) folks out of their cars and onto their bikes. If we want to do that, we need protected bike lanes.

@Leah - point taken. FWIW, I dont ride in Albany much; my commute is either on the bike path (50% longer than fighting motorists on the road) or, if I want to triple the duration, rural roads. I am comfortable in traffic, but not the typical urban/suburban capital district traffic (i'm rarely comfortable driving in it, much less riding). And that was my point; yes, markings are showing up more, and that is to be commended (thank you), but the product is inconsistent and that can make things more confusing for motorists and cyclists alike. You shouldn't have to be brazen and fearless to feel comfortable in traffic (which you pretty much do, now). The truly "traffic timid" will probably never hit the streets, and that's fine; protected lanes and paths serve their purpose. But I should be able to comfortably ride city streets and commuter routes without fearing for my life. If riders are visible in the streets, that also provides more incentive for the bike-curious to give riding (wherever it may be) a shot. Unless there is some way to plan and fund a comprehensive network of protected lanes without introducing additional safety and logistical concerns, I simply don't see them as a feasible primary objective. A couple protected lanes along specific routes might make for some good opportunities on their own, but without a comprehensive message, it continues to tell motorists that bikes don't belong on the street. If a comprehensive protected lane/protected intersection system could be funded and implemented, that would be fantastic. But...yeah....

@Leah- Do you think that the bicycle-curious/traffic-timid crowd could be helped along with a class or meet-up group rather than dedicated protected lanes?

I mention this only because I was one of those bicycle curious people up until recently. My regular route was to ride the bus from downtown Troy with my bike on their rack and get off at HVCC to pedal through a suburban neighborhood for 3 minutes towards my job. Then I'd do the opposite on my ride home.

After missing my bus one day, I just took the plunge and rode the 4 miles home. It was TERRIFYING but mostly because I had never done it before. I'm aware I got lucky with most drivers being respectful (except for the one guy in the lifted truck with the truck nuts).

I acknowledge I can't speak for everyone, but I would have started riding home a heck of a lot sooner had I had some experience biking on roads in a group or even taken an hour long verbal course about what to actually expect while riding in traffic. Up until I did it, I just imagined it would be an endless series of near misses and people throwing 5 Hr energy bottles at my head from their Honda Civics. As it turned out, it was just a few sweaty moments in a couple of spots that are equally as tricky for drivers and some mild sexual harassment from a guy who felt the need to have red rubber testicles hanging from his trailer hitch!

Maybe it's something that could be partnered with CDTA?

@CMaxby - I've been interested in this for a while. Other cities have a variety of options for bringing bike-curious folks up to speed in traffic.

Some cities have what they call a bike train, which follows a pre-planned, pre-scheduled route through the city- anyone can join the group & leave as necessary. Safety in numbers, some socializing, & at least one "fearless" leader.

Other cities have groups that provide a sort of buddy system. You can say "I'm going from x to y at z o'clock" & people can pair/group up.

The biggest step here is getting a group of experienced cyclists willing to volunteer their time to show other people around, probably a few times. & then spreading the word. I think Albany could really benefit from something like this, but it's a huge lift.

This is a city where motorists have a difficult enough time with concepts like "stop sign." I would rather bike everywhere, but am not comfortable with traffic and it seems like an unacceptable risk. Tried biking to work once; experience was bad enough that I sold my bike.

@CMaxby & ethan - NYBC is offering a "traffic skills" course for $5. Probably a bit more in-depth (9 hours http://nybc.net/traffic-skills-101/) than you are proposing but would be a great value.

There are a few cycling meetups, and the mohawk hudson cycling club has a large amount of group rides with a variety of levels, which could be a good way to get comfortable on the roads. Albany Bike Coalition has regular meetings and events. Getting the word out is the tough part. And not everybody wants to join a group. Signs and markings are (semi-) permanent messages that empower cyclists by saying "you belong here." I think anyone starting out can benefit from a 15 minute talk or even just a flyer on road safety, but getting the info to them isn't always easy.

@CMaxby & @Ethan - If you have the time, sign up for the Traffic Skills course this week mentioned above (http://nybc.net/traffic-skills-101/). It will be worth it!

And if you can't make it, get in touch with the folks at Capital CoExist (http://www.capitalcoexist.org/) / Capital Moves (http://capitalmoves.org/) because they can point you in the right direction of future traffic skills courses.

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

What's All Over Albany?

All Over Albany is for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. In other words, it's for you. It's kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who can help you find out what's up. Oh, and our friends call us AOA.


Recently on All Over Albany

Thank you!

When we started AOA a decade ago we had no idea what was going to happen. And it turned out better than we could have... (more)

Let's stay in touch

This all feels like the last day of camp or something. And we're going to miss you all so much. But we'd like to stay... (more)

A few things I think about this place

Working on AOA over the past decade has been a life-changing experience for me and it's shaped the way I think about so many things.... (more)

Albany tightened its rules for shoveling snowy sidewalks last winter -- so how'd that work out?

If winter ever gets its act together and drops more snow on us, there will be sidewalks to shovel. And shortly after that, Albany will... (more)

Tea with Jack McEneny

Last week we were fortunate enough to spend a few minutes with Jack McEneny -- former state Assemblyman, unofficial Albany historian, and genuinely nice guy.... (more)

Recent Comments

My three year old son absolutely loving riding the train around Huck Finn's (Hoffman's) Playland this summer.

Thank you!

...has 27 comments, most recently from Ashley

Let's stay in touch

...has 4 comments, most recently from mg

A look inside 2 Judson Street

...has 3 comments, most recently from Diane (Agans) Boyle

Everything changes: Alicia Lea

...has 2 comments, most recently from Chaz Boyark

A few things I think about this place

...has 13 comments, most recently from Katherine