As bike advocates learned long ago, you can’t start improving things until you start measuring them.
22 years after Portland’s first regular one-day bike counts, Bureau of Transportation volunteers and staffers have started tracking skateboards, too.
It’s the result of more than a year of advocacy by the NW Skate Coalition, the young organization that emerged from the 2012 fight over whether to ban skateboards from part of Portland’s West Hills.
As we wrote last year in an interview with the group’s founders, the rise of skateboard transportation has been driven in part by rapid advances in skateboard technology. And as NWSC members Cory Poole and Tessa Walker explained in a podcast episode last winter, that’s only one of the parallels between the skateboarding and bike transportation movements.
So what do the counts show? Unsurprisingly, the most skateboards were seen downtown, but there were also pockets of popularity in outer east, southeast and north Portland. Of all the locations observed for bike/skateboard counts, more than half saw at least one person skating.
“This data shows that despite the lack of encouragement or accommodation there [are] thousands of skateboards being used for transportation every day in Portland,” writes Poole, NWSC’s co-founder. “Just think of what the numbers would be if skaters weren’t harassed by police.”