Yesterday at about 4:00 pm the bicycle counter on the Hawthorne Bridge logged its 1,000,000th trip.
The counter went live on August 8th and reached 500,000 trips just three months later. Yesterday was a fitting day to break the 1 million mark as the daily total was 6,214 — the largest amount of trips since way back in October (the huge spike threw off my projections and I arrived at the bridge 629 trips too late to see number 1 million).
This $20,000 counter (which despite what you might have read was donated to PBOT) stands as an important reminder of the impact bicycling has on Portland. For the past eight months, the Hawthorne Bridge alone carried an average of 4,973 bicycle trips in and out of downtown. That’s about 2,500 vehicles entering downtown that don’t take up parking spaces, or add to the daily gridlock, or spew toxic fumes into the air, or create dangerous public spaces.
Imagine what we — as a city, as a region, as a planet full of people — gained and saved by making these 1,000,000 trips on a bicycle rather than in a car or other motorized vehicle.
Standing on the bridge yesterday, I was struck by the fact that despite this important milestone, there was no fanfare. No confetti fell from the bridge arches. The City did not call a press conference, unfurl a huge banner, or single out the 1 millionth rider for a special prize. At first I thought it was a missed opportunity. Then, as the counter flipped trip after trip after trip, I was glad. This is just business as usual in Portland. We no longer need to make a big production out of every bicycling milestone. We are on a mission to become the best bike city in the world and we have a lot of work to do.
You can delve into the counter stats here. (Note that’s not a live online display. The number is refreshed each morning at about 2:30 am.)