Commute Mode Share
- Indicator Description
- Related Strategies
- Transportation and Health Connection
- About the Data
- Moving Forward
Commute mode share measures the percentage of workers aged 16 years and over who commute either
- by bicycle
- by private vehicle, including car, truck, van, taxicab, and motorcycle
- by public transportation, including bus, rail, and ferry
- by foot.
Data on commute mode share come from the 2012 one-year estimates from the American Community Survey (ACS).
- Built environment strategies to deter crime
- Complete Streets
- Encourage and promote biking and walking
- Expand bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure
- Expand public transportation
- Health impact assessment (HIA)
- Health performance metrics
- Integrate health and transportation planning
- Multimodal access to transit
- Promote connectivity
- Rural transit systems
- Safe Routes to School
- Traffic calming
Commute mode share reflects how well infrastructure, policies, investments, and land-use patterns support different types of travel to work. Commute patterns are directly tied to the economy (where jobs are located within a region relative to housing). Commute mode share is linked to environmental conditions and contributing factors that affect health outcomes, such as air pollutant emissions, which vary by transportation mode. Motor vehicle emissions contribute nearly a quarter of world energy-related greenhouse gases. Reducing motor vehicle use and increasing active transportation are ways to mitigate harmful environmental impacts caused by a large amount of vehicle use (Xia et al., 2013).
Traveler safety is also an issue related to commuting, and long commutes in motor vehicles (i.e., cars and trucks) are linked to physical inactivity and associated health problems (Ewing, Schieber, Zegeer, 2003). Conversely, active commute modes are a potential source of health-enhancing physical activity. Additionally, pedestrian and motor vehicle traffic fatalities decrease in more compact communities, suggesting that shorter commutes are safer for commuters in all modes.
It is important to also consider other influences when connecting various health outcomes to modes of travel. These factors include food choices, sedentary hobbies, stress, unemployment rates, and regional culture, and may have impacts on obesity and diabetes (Price and Godwin, 2012).
The information gleaned from commute mode share data can inform decisions about Complete Streets policies and infrastructure investments for street connectivity, bicycle lanes, and sidewalks. Commute mode share can be a useful way for transportation decision makers to measure the success of such investments or policies over time. Changes in commute mode choice, for example, have occurred in areas where bicycling facilities have been added, suggesting that changes to the built environment might lead to changes in travel behavior (Pucher, Dill, Handy, 2010).
Ewing R, Kreutzer R. Understanding the Relationship Between Public Health and the Built Environment: A Report Prepared for the LEED-ND Core Committee 2006. http://www.usgbc.org/resources/understanding-relationship-between-public-health-and-built-environment-report-prepared-lee.
Ewing R, Schieber RA, Zegeer CV . Urban sprawl as a risk factor in motor vehicle occupant and pedestrian fatalities. American Journal of Public Health 2003;93:1541-5. http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/pdf/10.2105/AJPH.93.9.1541.
Federal Highway Administration. Summary of Travel Trends: 2009 National Household Travel Survey. FHWA-PL-11-022. http://nhts.ornl.gov/2009/pub/stt.pdf
Pisarski A. Commuting in America III: The Third National Report on Commuting Patterns and Trends; 2006. http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/nchrp/CIAIII.pdf
Price A. Godwin A. Mapping Transportation and Health in the United States; 2012. http://www.planetizen.com/node/53728.
Pucher J, Dill J, Handy S. Infrastructure, programs, and policies to increase bicycling: an international review. Preventive medicine 2010;50:S106-S125. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19765610.
Xia T, Zhang Y, Crabb S, Shah P. Cobenefits of Replacing Car Trips with Alternative Transportation: A Review of Evidence and Methodological Issues. Journal of Environmental and Public Health 2013(Article ID 797312). http://www.hindawi.com/journals/jeph/2013/797312/.
* Indicates research that supports policies analyzed
† Indicates research that supports equity or vulnerable populations studied