Boston ranks No. 1 for commuting by foot, bike

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BOSTON – A greater percentage of Bostonians walk to work than in any other major U.S. city, while the Hub is tied with Washington for No. 1 among those who either walk or bike to their jobs, according to the Alliance for Biking and Walking.

The assessment marked the second time that Boston has ranked first in the nation among the 50 largest cities in terms of the percentage of commuters who come and go without using cars or public transportation. Yet many cyclists in the Hub still feel that the city has a long way to go to be considered bike-friendly, and by at least one measure, the statistics bear out that view.

Boston’s bike fatality rate, at 3 per 10,000 bicycle commuters, put it behind 10 other cities, including Washington, at 1. Just 1.9 percent of Boston commuters bike to work, ranking the city 11th out of the top 50 by that measure, trailing Philadelphia (10th) and Denver (eighth), the only two in the top 10 where, like in Boston, winter weather often means snow-covered streets.

The number of walking commuters in Boston rose 1.3 percentage points from 2007, according to the alliance, based in Washington. The Hub had the lowest rate of pedestrian fatalities per 10,000 walkers, at 2, the group said. Washington was tied with Minneapolis and Seattle at 3.

Overall, the percentage of commuters who walk to work in the 50 largest cities ranked by population remained at about 5 percent compared with 2014, while commuters who cycled rose  to 1.2 percent from 1 percent, the organization said. Boston’s biking commuter rate almost doubled, to 1.9 percent from 1 percent.

In terms of demographics, fewer women bike to work compared with men, but there’s no such difference among walkers. Members of households with annual incomes of less than $20,000 are more likely to walk or bike where they need to go than those in higher-income households, according to the study.

Until recently, Massachusetts was one of the worst states for bicyclists, according to the League of American Bicyclists – it ranked 19th among bicycle-friendly states in 2009. But its rank rose to fourth by 2015. The move up was largely due to a number of factors, including the Boston Bike Network Plan, which would add 120 miles of bicycle tracks.

The city has extended a friendly hand to residents who prefer riding a bike over using public transportation, adding stations citywide for its Hubway bike-share program. The city is deploying bikes weekly, announcing March 5 that it had recently installed 25 bike stations across the city, with another 28 planned for this week across Jamaica Plain, the South End and Charlestown, among other districts.

Boston began Hubway in 2011 with 60 stations and 600 bicycles. Now, it has 1,300 bikes at 140 stations, according to the Hubway website.

Contact Kara Bettis at [email protected] or on Twitter @karabettis.