Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on November 9th, 2012 at 2:40 pm
Since it went live on August 8th, the bicycle counter on the Hawthorne Bridge has tallied over a half-million bike trips. Or, to be more precise, 516,778 as of 2:00 am this morning.
While not quite as visible (the LED is tough to read in the rising sun), or perfectly located (the eastbound direction would have more impact because the number is much higher in the evening) as PBOT would have preferred, the counter has been a great success thus far. It has counted reliably and it has provided the City with excellent data that they use in myriad ways.
After averaging about 7,000 bike trips per weekday (and about 4,000 per day on weekends) during the month of August, the number of trips went up significantly in September. In addition to classes starting at Portland State University, I like to think of this September increase as the Bike Commute Challenge Bump — a rise in trips thanks to the Bicycle Transportation Alliance's annual "competition" that encourages folks to bike to work that might not otherwise. The onset of fall and now the chill of wintry weather has seen trip levels drop considerably the past two months; but we're still seeing about 5,000 - 5,500 trips per weekday. (Note: Both directions of traffic are counted.)
Here are the weekly totals in chart form:
Overall, the counter has averaged 6,341 trips per day since it was turned on (the highest day ever was September 25th with 8,305 trips).
But beyond cold, hard statistics, the counter has given Portlanders a greater sense of bike. It reminds people riding by that they are far from alone, and it reminds those of us driving by that there are thousands of people downtown every day that didn't need a car to get there.
On their "Commuter Central" blog, PBOT put it this way:
"Increasing the number of people who bicycle is a long-range city goal to reduce congestion and air pollution, improve personal health and save Portlanders money by making a low-cost transportation option attractive and safe. A visual bike counter raises public awareness of these goals and highlights the city’s progress in reaching them."
Poke through the counter stats yourself on this handy website.
(In other counting news, The Atlantic Cities has unearthed a great little gizmo that for just $139 lets anyone count traffic.)