CHS: Broadway Bikeway ridership on the rise despite north end closure

Biking on Broadway with the new two-way protected bike lane is night-and-day compared to the previous road design, which required people on bikes to mix with busy traffic on one of the city’s busiest commercial streets.

But use has been limited by a closure at the bikeway’s current northernmost point. People headed southbound on Broadway are detoured onto Harvard Ave, and people headed north must merge with cars at a bottleneck created due to Capitol Hill Station construction. This construction situation will continue in some form for most of 2014.

But even despite the fact that Broadway is essentially a dead end for people on bikes at the moment, use of the bikeway continues to climb according to data collected by a counter near E Union Street. Bryan Cohen at Capitol Hill Seattle reports:

Perhaps most interesting is the number of daily rides: In May, there was an average of 409 trips a day on the bikeway, including northbound and southbound rides. By the end of that month, weekday totals were easily approaching 600 rides. Weekday averages have climbed steadily since January, with a slight dip in February likely due to some hectic reroutes during construction of the Capitol Hill Station underground concourse:

Here are the Broadway bikeway weekday averages by month:

  • January: 270
  • February: 231
  • March: 276
  • April: 313
  • May: 464

Keep in mind that the section directly south of the counter location was barricaded until early May, so the relevant data is just now starting to come in (few people will travel all the way to a bike route dead end).

Image: CHS

Image: CHS

Interestingly, even though the bikeway’s current peak day was May 14’s 598 trips (one day after the all-time Fremont Bridge record was set), the usage pattern does not appear to resemble usage over the Fremont Bridge. While the Fremont Bridge bike use is very commute-oriented, Broadway gets about as much use at 8 p.m. as it does at 8 a.m. during the morning rush.

CHS grouped weekends and weekdays into the same graph, so that might be part of the reason it’s hard to see clear commute patterns. It could also be that the bikeway was less useful headed toward downtown, since all the construction along E Union made it headache to use that street as a bike route. And, of course, the fact that the bikeway was barricaded at Union until May is likely another factor.

But it could also be that Capitol Hill is a big nightlife destination, and we may simply get different ridership patterns there than on a route like the Fremont Bridge. Broadway is the neighborhood’s center, and people traveling to QFC to get groceries or to a bar or a protest or any of the other gazillion things to do in Capitol Hill will result in a different usage pattern. If there is a neighborhood in Seattle that never sleeps, it’s Capitol Hill.

Though the bikeway is partially open now, we won’t get to see it in full force for several years. When/if the streetcar and bikeway are extended at least at far as Roy and Capitol Hill Station opens in 2016, then we’ll have a real picture of what it can do for bike transportation on the Hill. Stay tuned for more on the bikeway extension open house held earlier this week.

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8 Responses to CHS: Broadway Bikeway ridership on the rise despite north end closure

  1. Takin' er easy says:

    So, what were counts on Broadway prior to construction of the cycle track? Did the CBC ever do manual counts on any bike-to-work day or something?

    I’ve ridden the Broadway cycle track twice now, once a while back at mid morning on a weekday in clear weather and more recently at noon on a beautiful June Sunday. In each case I encountered just one other rider (but two peds). Pre-cycle track I’ve ridden Broadway maybe 50 times over a ten year period (my preferred route through that neighborhood is 10th and 11th Avenues), and usually encountered two or three other riders on each trip.

    Maybe the nightlife theory is correct,

    • Charles B says:

      I have been on the cycle track a few times, and I always see other riders. In fact, I saw quite a number of riders on the southern portion of the cycle track months before it was actually complete. I suspect they are still using it now that its complete, but I would guess they were there before the cycle track was being constructed at all.

      If the cycle track ever reaches Roanoke and/or down to the University bridge we will probably see a bigger boost as it would then be the reprieved “safe” route downtown. A solid connection from the hill down to the U district would probably be pretty popular by its own right.

      • Richard says:

        Actually, think that a bit further – it’s not just hill to u dist (though that would be great, too) – but also hill to burke gilman.

        My wife and son are not commuters and probably never will be, but they are cool with a good recreational ride… But getting to burke gilman from the hill means car, bus, or not-pleasant-at-all roads which they just aren’t willing to ride (though I’ve been scoping out some routes I want to try to get them on :) )

        Point being, cycleway to roanoke would be HUGE for hill residents that are not daily commuters, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the boost from getting that connection made was higher than the boost from finishing the extension & south end.

      • Richard says:

        (should have said “almost to burke gilman” – obviously you still have to get down from roanoke park)

      • Jayne says:

        Go down Interlaken and cross 24th at the light to connect with the lake Washington loop, follow the lake Washington loop past the old mohai building and up to the burke. You can cross back over 24th on the bridge by husky stadium. Pretty calm the whole way.

  2. Clark in Vancouver says:

    Well, one thing that’s different than the Fremont bridge is that Broadway itself, being a retail strip, is a destination. It doesn’t need to be connected at either end in the same way as a commuter route would need. Someone can get to it and go to the stores they intend to go to and go back. The blockage shouldn’t affect things much.
    Also when shopping by bike, many people only go to the general area, then lock up and walk to all the stores that are close to each other. They don’t bike from store to store. Someone could just walk around the blockage if they needed to.

  3. Peter says:

    Is there a counter on the Broadway Bikeway? I’ve never seen it.

  4. Peter says:

    Never mind. I read the CHS article and got the answer.

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