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One month later: Hawthorne bike counter and the Bike Commute Challenge bump

Posted by on September 7th, 2012 at 10:52 am

bike barometer

(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

This weekend will mark one month since the “bicycle barometer” was installed on the Hawthorne Bridge. According to data posted online by the manufacturer of the counter, there have been 180,556 bicycle trips over the bridge since August 7th — or an average of about 6,000 bike trips per day (including weekends).

Yesterday, the counter — which counts bike traffic in both directions — tallied its highest mark ever with 7,680 trips. That’s 195 more trips than the 7,485 recorded on the Bridge Pedal Sunday of August 12th, and 248 more trips than the third highest tally of 7,432 that was recording on opening day.

See daily trip counts on the counter’s homepage.

My hunch is that, in addition to the nice warm and dry weather we’re having, September is poised for a bump in bike traffic due to the BTA’s Bike Commute Challenge. That event pits teams of local businesses and organizations against each other in a friendly competition to see who makes the most bike trips. So far, nearly 7,000 riders are logging trips and there are over 1,100 teams participating. It will be fun to see what impact that event has on September’s numbers.

For their part, PBOT is sitting back and watching the data roll in. “Everything’s working well,” says the head of the city’s bicycle program, Roger Geller, “There were some initial kinks making sure the display was receiving the data from both sides of the bridge, but those have been worked out.”

Beyond that, a bit of feedback I’ve heard is that it’s unfortunate the counter display is placed in the westbound direction because commuters (both in cars and on bikes) see a much lower number. Since the whole idea of counter is to promote bicycling and impress people with the large number, this isn’t ideal. The counter location is also very hard to see due to sun glare. According to PBOT, the location was chosen because it was the most suitable place that wouldn’t block the biking/walking path and it’s a “gateway to downtown.”

With one month under its belt, what do you think about the counter?

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Andrew K September 7, 2012 at 11:21 am

    I still love it.

    I understand what people mean when they say it would be nice to see the larger number if the counter was on the other side of the bridge but if I had a choice I would keep it where it is currently. The other side of the bridge wouldn’t be as visable to the “tourist” element. Also, I like seeing that number tick up as I enter downtown (i.e. when I’m goward toward the center of Portland, not away from it).

    Just my 2 cents.

    My only other comment would be, well, let’s get more of them!

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  • Spiffy September 7, 2012 at 11:37 am

    I like that on the weekends there’s still plenty of people biking, and presumably the majority of those are not to get to work…

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  • abby September 7, 2012 at 11:43 am

    I still like it too (but noticed that one of the counter-tubes was broken yesterday – forgot to look today; who should I contact about that?). The sun glare isn’t going to be a problem in a few weeks. 🙂

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  • Psyfalcon September 7, 2012 at 11:55 am

    I wonder if there will be a PSU in session bump in a few weeks.

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  • RH September 7, 2012 at 11:59 am

    It would be fun to have a contest to guess the total count for an upcoming day. Maybe the closest person gets a free bikeportland.org t-shirt! 🙂 Could get a great way to drive traffic to the website!

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  • Eric September 7, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    I think it’s awesome but I also don’t like the location because it almost never counts me. When I make my cross-river trips I start on the West side (live in SW), go East on Hawthorne (meeting in SE) and usually return via Steel (office in NW). I think it would be cool to have on on the Steel bridge as well but that wouldn’t do much to show drivers how many cyclists there are…since they’d never see it. But again…I’m a fan.

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    • OnTheRoad September 7, 2012 at 12:17 pm

      Story says that the counter gets data from both sides of the bridge, so going east counts too.

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  • kww September 7, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    How does this compare with car trips over the bridge?

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  • John Lascurettes September 7, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    So what i’m wondering is this: there have been detection hoses on both MUPs of the Broadway for months. I assume they’re also collecting this data for the Broadway. Is there a website anywhere with that bridge’s stats?

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  • ScottG September 7, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Fun! Yesterday also happened to be the first day I’ve ridden over the Hawthorne since the counter was put in, so it’s neat to hear I helped to increase our record. 🙂

    My bike commute home last night also was by far the busiest I’ve ever seen it in terms of bike traffic. I was in a huge group of around 20 bikes from the Steel Bridge up to Tillamook.

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  • Champs September 7, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    If you ask folks around Portland, they appeared to be dying in 90 degree heat and wishing for cold, rainy winter. I’m not sure if traffic will be up.

    Of course we’ve got the SAME weather today and nobody’s complaining.

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  • deborah September 7, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    I love it and squint to catch my official number for the day every morning! I agree that it’s placement is really good. Just wish the numbers were SUPER BIG so everyone could see them.

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  • Patrick September 7, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    correct me if I’m wrong, I don’t think the counter was able accurately to accurately count the cyclists for bridge pedal. Last year they herded everyone onto a road lane on hawthorn bridge. They didn’t allow people to ride on the bike path where the counter strips are installed. Did the route change this year?

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    • BellaBici September 7, 2012 at 9:40 pm

      Nope. Most cyclists crossed the Hawthorne Bridge over the plywood covered car lane. And, when I went across it, most of those cyclists were walking as a result of the enormous bicycle traffic congestion.

      Numbers would have been much greater had all Bridge Pedal cyclists been counted.

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  • fasterthanme September 7, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    Watching it is very depressing on my morning commute. The count seems to get worse as the week goes on. I’m thinking of switching to the Morrison.

    Let’s get a bunch o’ cyclists looping the hawthorne for a day to see how high we could get it.

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  • Syzlak September 7, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    Now imagine if these cyclists were in cars, would make the motorists’ morning commute much better, right? Stop funding bike infrastructure so we can get more people drivin’ in cars!

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  • Schrauf September 8, 2012 at 10:40 am

    Digits are too small. I have to stare just to see it on my bike, and people in cars are twice as far away. But a cool concept.

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  • Carter September 11, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    I have ridden across the bridge several times since the counter was installed, and I have yet to see it.

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