Accurate data and statistics drive the work of advocates like you and us—these are important tools as we lobby for improved bicycling in South Carolina. Below are a few go-to resources that are a must for any advocate.
Alliance Benchmarking Report
On a biennial basis, the Alliance for Biking and Walking releases the U.S. Bicycling and Walking Benchmarking Report. This project is an on-going effort spearheaded by the Alliance for Biking and Walking to collect and analyze data on bicycling and walking in all 50 states and at least the 50 most-populated U.S. cities. The Benchmarking Report is an essential resource for us to use in promoting bicycling and walking. The first biennial report was released August 29, 2007, and every 2 years the Alliance expands the scope of this project while refining its methods.
The 2016 Benchmarking Report: Bicycling and Walking in the United States collects and analyzes data from all 50 states, 52 of the most populous cities, and 17 small and midsized cities (Charleston included). The report traces the rise of walking and biking and explores its connection to equity, mobility, health, economics, and a host of other issues. See our press release and summary here:
Mode share: In 2016, South Carolina’s commute mode share of biking increased from 0.2% to 0.3% and walking increased from 1.8% to 2.3%. The commute mode share, from the American Communities survey of the US Census, broadly underestimates actual # of biking and walking trips taken, but indicates trends. The NHTSA research below more accurately accounts for all trips taken. SC ranks 33rd in the country in walking and biking commute mode share. In Charleston, 5.8% of people walk, and 2.5% of people bike to work. (From 2009 – 2013, Charleston had the highest growth rate in the United States in bicycling, at 73.36%, coming from a different source).
Demographics: While women constitute 48% of our state population, in 2016 only 39% of all commuters who WALK to work are female (US averages 46%), and only 24% of all commuters who BIKE to work are female (US averages 27%). SC has a disproportionately large percentage of low income commuters who WALK and take TRANSIT to work. While 17% of SC population is low income, this population makes up 41% of walking commuters and 44% of transit commuters. SC has a disproportionately large percentage of African Americans that WALK and take TRANSIT to work. While 29% of SC is African American, this population makes up 35% of walking commuters and 73% of transit commuters. Our total state population rose 15.3% from 2000-2010, a similar rate of change from the previous 3 decades, almost entirely in urban areas. And finally, 9% of SC land is considered urban, notably higher than the US average (3.0% in a 0.1-39.7% range)
Economics: SC spends $0.83 per capita on biking and walking projects, ranking 45th highest in the country, and 0.6% of the average annual SCDOT budget. A separate study reported that the cost of maintaining a car in South Carolina is on average 14 to 21% of income reserved for basic needs, and this does not include the initial car purchase.*
Safety: SC ranks 46th in the country in bicycle and pedestrian fatalities, with 23.7 fatalities per 10,000 commuters. (no change from 2 years ago). 13% of all traffic fatalities are either pedestrians (11%) or bicyclists (2%), and the proportion has risen steadily over the last decade.
Health: 49% of South Carolinians get 150+ minutes weekly of physical activity, a 4% rise from 2005.
*This is the minimum cost of operating and maintaining an automobile in SC, including only the following basics only: daily commute to work and daycare, in addition to one weekly grocery and errand trip. The cost further does not include other expenses, such as the initial purchase price of the car or other recreational or social trips. The average commute distance in SC is 26.4 miles (Self-Sufficiency 2016).
NHTSA Traffic Safety Report: bicycling
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration releases annual Traffic Safety Reports about road users—including bicyclists (or ‘pedalcyclists’ as they are known). These reports review trends in the data, such as age and gender, as well as reporting the annual fatalities rates. The following are the most recently released reports: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 data.
The above chart illustrates the significant discrepancy between US and SC bicycle fatalities per capita.
American Community Survey
The American Community Survey (ACS) is an ongoing survey that provides data every year—giving communities the current information they need to plan investments and services. One of the questions on the ACS relates to biking to work, which is important data for advocates like us so that we can better understand trends in biking.
The League does a fabulous job at digesting all of the ACS data for us, and putting it into an easy-to-understand format. Check out the bike commuter estimates for the 375 cities for which the ACS released bike commuter numbers. Also, for an easier-to-use perspective on this data, visit this interactive menu.
South Carolina Bicycle Crash Data
As part of our Safe Streets Save Lives campaign, we acquired pedestrian and bicycle crash data from the past several years in South Carolina. Below you can see several graphs illustrating the patterns of injuries and fatalities based on time of day, day of the week, gender and age.
South Carolina crashes by County
PCC analyzed bike and pedestrian crash data from 2009 – 2012. We found the following 10 counties exhibited the highest bike crash rate relative to population: Charleston, Horry, Greenville, Beaufort, Berkeley, Spartanburg, Florence, Dorchester, Richland, and Sumter. These counties exhibited the highest pedestrian crash rate relative to population: McCormick, Dillon, Horry, Georgetown, Jasper, Orangeburg, Richland, Charleston, Sumter and Florence.
On average, 40% of people do not drive, including students, the elderly, and low income South Carolinians. While 28% of our state is African American, 45% of bicycle and pedestrian injuries and fatalities are among African Americans. While 70% of SC roads are state owned, 93% of pedestrian and 95% of bike fatalities are on state owned roads, and 86% of pedestrian and 85% of bike injuries are on state owned roads.
More and more South Carolinians are moving to the dense, urban areas that are ripe for bicycling and walking, simply because of the closer proximity of places where they can live, work, and play. According to the U.S. Census, from 1970 to 2010, urban populations in South Carolina rose every decade almost 20%, effectively doubling in 40 years. Rural populations during this same time period remained steady. Cities, towns, and even the smallest of population centers in SC continue to ask for more biking and walking facilities and programs, and municipal governments are responding. With rising levels in biking and walking mode share – yet similarly rising safety problems evidenced in crash data – infrastructure priorities are changing, though only at the local level. PCC is committed to merging the positive local changes into changes at the state level – since 70% of South Carolina roads continue to be state owned.