In 2011, the percentage of commuters using bikes in Mountain View jumped from 4.1 percent to 6.2 percent, according to the American Community Survey, a product of the U.S. Census Bureau. That is just shy of Portland's 6.3 percent.
"That's pretty incredible, considering we haven't upgraded our bike network in a while," said resident Jarrett Mullen. "Imagine how high we could go if the city revamped the city-wide network."
Mullen acknowledged the impact of the city's creekside trails in promoting bike use, but is also pushing for safer streets for bicyclists and pedestrians elsewhere, especially in the Rengstorff Park area.
"It does seem like a rather big jump from the 4.1 percent in 2010, or the 3.3 percent for 2008-10," said bike advocate Andrew Boone of Mountain View's numbers. "But the data for Palo Alto show the same trend — a rapid increase in bicycling to work over the past few years. Sunnyvale shows an increase as well, though less impressive."
In 2011, Palo Alto also saw big gains, going from 8.6 percent to 10.1 percent and passing Boulder, Colo. (9.6 percent) to become the No. 2 bike city in the country. Davis, the Central Valley college town, still tops the charts for cities, with 16.6 percent. Stanford is at a whopping 40 percent, though it is considered a "census designated place," and not a city.
The number of people biking to work in Mountain View has steadily increased since 2005, when the number was at 2.8 percent.
What is causing the increase?
"I suspect that safety education and encouragement programs at Stanford University, the Palo Alto Unified School District, Google, and the businesses in the Moffett Business Park in Sunnyvale are driving these increases at least as much as improved infrastructure," Boone said.