URBANA — A Census Bureau report ranks Urbana in the top 15 among small cities in the United States for the number of residents who walk or ride bikes to work.
An estimated 16.6 percent of Urbana residents walked to work, and another 5.8 percent rode a bike to work between the years 2008 to 2012, according to the Census Bureau data. In both categories, Urbana ranked No. 15 among small cities (those with a population of 20,000 to 99,999).
Ithaca, N.Y., was tops in the walking category, with 42.4 percent of residents walking to work. Davis, Calif., was No. 1 in biking to work, with a rate of 18.6 percent.
"I think we set sort of set the table here with the urban form and the facilities and the proper plans, like complete streets," said Libby Tyler, Urbana's community development director. "This is really gratifying to see the metrics convey that we're doing the right thing and getting results."
Steve Ross, a software engineer who works in the University of Illinois Research Park, rides his bike about five miles each day back and forth between work and his central Urbana home.
"I'll ride whenever I can, whenever there isn't a lot of snow on the ground," he said.
Ross said he rides his bike all over Champaign-Urbana, even to the Market Place Shopping Center.
"I used to live in California, in the Bay Area, and that just wasn't conducive for riding a bike to work," said Ross, who was born here, moved away and returned to Urbana 14 years ago.
"I think that Urbana is very walkable to get to the U of I and schools and shopping in downtown Urbana. And that feature is important to me, because I want my kids to walk to school, friends' houses, etcetera.
"But it occurs to me that as a result of being walker-friendly, it is also bicycle-friendly because destinations are within an easy bike ride along residential streets with relatively little traffic."
Andrew Voris, an employee at the Black Dog Smoke and Ale House, said he either walks or rides a bike to and from work every day.
"It's a very short commute for me. I doubt it's even a mile," said Voris, who moved to Urbana from Washington, D.C., four years ago. "I'm a downtown Urbana walker, biker. Walking around downtown Urbana, you can get about everything you need to within a day."
The only other Illinois city with a high ranking than Urbana was Chicago, which was 14th among large cities for its rate of people who walk to work. An estimated 6.4 percent of Chicagoans walk to their jobs.
How Urbana compares to other area cities in the percentage of residents walking or biking to work:
Source: Census Bureau, 2008-12