More commuters pedaling to work

 Eric Liberatore of Bella Vista parks his bike at the Ride Your Bike To Work Day party Friday at BikeNWA in Bentonville. Liberatore biked to his job on Friday.

Eric Liberatore of Bella Vista parks his bike at the Ride Your Bike To Work Day party Friday at BikeNWA in Bentonville. Liberatore biked to his job on Friday.

via Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Ben Craig may add one or two minutes to his daily commute when he pedals his bike rather than drive his car, but he enjoys the freedom riding a bike brings.

He makes the 12-minute, three-mile trip from home to his office on Southwest A Street in Bentonville at least three times a week.

Craig is one of a growing number of workers across the country who commutes on a bicycle. Only 0.6 percent of workers age 16 and older in the United States commuted by bike in 2015, according to the Department of Transportation's latest numbers.

Yet, it's the fastest growing mode of getting to work, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, whose data shows a 51 percent increase in bike commuting nationwide from 2000 to 2016. There were 863,979 bike commuters in the country in 2016, according to the bureau.

Numbers and trends for bike commuting in Northwest Arkansas aren't available, but a Walton Family Foundation study found the average annual bike usage on area trails has increased by 24 percent over the last two years to 83,700 cyclists.

The study doesn't say how much of that usage was for recreation or transportation, but "it's a good baseline from which to work and start converting people, hopefully, to bike commuters," said Sam Slaton, managing director of BikeNWA, a nonprofit bike advocacy group that supports the work of other local biking organizations.

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