Fremont Bridge bike counter passes 1M, bike trips up 28% over last year

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Click for the city’s interactive graph

The Fremont Bridge bike counter tallied its one millionth bike trip early Sunday morning, a little more than 13 months after it was activated.

But perhaps even more exciting, SDOT reports that bike traffic over the bridge is up 28 percent versus October and November 2012. Indeed, every weekly count since passing the one-year mark has seen higher bike use than the same week last year. It will be interesting to see if this pattern is maintained over time, but it’s a very promising start.

In some ways, this is when the bike count data starts to become really rich with information. We have never had this depth of bike trip information before, and the opportunities to crunch the data are immense (if that’s your thing, you can access the raw hourly count data via data.Seattle.gov).

Previous bike count methodologies varied wildly year-to-year, and Census data only captures work commute trips and has too wide a statistical margin of error to provide dependable year-over-year comparisons. A common problem with Census and hand counts was that bike use seemed to fall a little some years, and grow a lot other years. In reality, bike use was probably growing gradually, and the ups and downs were mostly just statistical noise. The Fremont counter will give better clues about what bike use trends actually look like.

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18 Responses to Fremont Bridge bike counter passes 1M, bike trips up 28% over last year

  1. Peri Hartman says:

    Question: is it counting both directions or just southbound? Also, any ideas on what the crossing counts for the other side of the bridge are?

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      It counts both sides.

      • Al Dimond says:

        More detail: there’s a detector loop on the east sidewalk just like the one on the west sidewalk, connected to the same counter. If you’re walking on the west sidewalk and watching for it you can see the counter increment when bikes pass by on the east sidewalk.

    • Owen Coutts says:

      As others have said there is a counter on each side. The data that was published splits the data in to northbound riders and southbound riders. I calculated the split:

      North Bound Cyclists: 473,671
      South Bound Cyclists: 504,176
      Or about 6% more northbound riders.

      This doesn’t add to a million riders and it seems like the data source isn’t fully up to date.

  2. RTK says:

    It will be interesting to see what happens as we build more data. With the limited data at hand I suspect the weather could have a significant effect on the data. We have had a great fall with the exception of a few strong storms that came through. The trend certainly looks encouraging at this point.

  3. Bikeshrimp says:

    What the counter does not count is when bikes use the road to transverse the bridge. This happens when the bridge is up and bikes use this opportunity to get across without the hassle of slow packed pedestrian and other bikers on the sidewalks.

  4. Kathy says:

    Another milestone: the Spokane Street Bridge bike counter passed 100,000 trips last week month since it was installed 5 months ago.

    • Kathy says:

      correction: “last week since it was installed 5 months ago.” – sorry for the extra word.

    • Don Brubeck says:

      Actual numbers are somewhat higher for Spokane St Bridge. The counter has been missing a high percentage of eastbound riders, maybe due to speed coming down the bridge. SDOT installed a new sensor loop in the pavement this week and has been trying software fixes to adjust sensitivity.

      • Jeff Mack says:

        I have noticed this several times while riding across. I’m glad they’re working to fix it. I ride across there almost everyday to get to work, and it certainly seemed to “miss” my bike when I was riding faster in the eastbound direction.

  5. Jeff Dubrule says:

    We can also use this data to normalize the city-wide bike-count data to account for daily differences. Then we can use the counts to determine the breakdown of riders by area, and have an apples-to-apples way of tracking the evolution of bikers in Seattle.

  6. Rob Stephenson says:

    I ride across this bridge nearly every day unless I take Eastlake and I question whether the count is accurate. It nearly always counts, me, but I feel like sometimes it counts me 2-3 times as the numbers will click-click-click if I swerve. Maybe the loop on the East side is tricking me – I’ll look at that next time. What happens when the bridge is up and cyclists are queued up over the loop – do they get counted many times? That could account for more southbound cyclists over the course of a year. Do walkers get picked up?

    • Matthew Snyder says:

      It is trivially easy to register 10-20 trips in about 30 seconds by rocking your bike wheel back and forth over the sensor. I usually cross the bridge on the road rather than on the sidewalk, so I don’t get counted. Once in awhile, if I’m stuck when the bridge is up, I’ll register a bunch of trips to “even things out” a bit. I know this screws up the hourly count, but I’d rather get counted than not, and taking the sidewalk seems unnecessarily dangerous for me and for pedestrians.

    • Yorik says:

      For what it’s worth, I’m an example of a unidirectional cyclist… for whatever reason (topography?), I always ride south (from Green Lake to Downtown) over the University Bridge, but northbound I split between the University and Fremont Bridges. Other folks may have similar habits that may account for the N/S difference. I’d also bet some folks from north Seattle occaisionally ride into downtown but put their bike on a bus for the uphill ride back north.

  7. Charley says:

    I’ve only passed by these counters when road riding training, not as a commuter. The few times my route has taken me by the counters, I’ve noticed that if I am riding side-by-side with another rider, we are counted as 1 and not 2. Is this a known issue and if so how it accounted for?

  8. Pingback: A lot of you biked to a Super Bowl party, and there’s data to prove it | Seattle Bike Blog

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