After waking up around 5 and drinking two thermoses of coffee, Kelli from Yoga For Bikers and I got a little loopy while counting bikes this morning for SDOT. We were staked out at Elliott and Denny from 6:30 until 9, tabulating bike commuters based on which direction they were headed, whether they were in the street or on the sidewalk, male or female, and wearing a helmet.
After about an hour, we started coming up with our own lingo. Bikers headed southbound were trout, northbound were salmon. If they were on the sidewalk, they were using the fish ladder. If they were wearing a helmet, they were wearing a condom. I can only imagine what people riding by thought when we said, “Female salmon, bareback.”
The bike count was carried out by volunteers placed strategically around downtown this morning. The data helps track bike usage and helps with planning and outreach efforts. For example, people angry about the proposed changes to 125th claimed that nobody rides on that street. Well, had we had bike count data, we could have seen more clearly what bike usage looks like (perhaps they are there, but on the sidewalk).
The gender issue was definitely the hardest part of the count. Besides being skeptical of gender binaries in general (there were no other options), so much of the bike commuter wear obscures gender. If a woman rides by in a bright yellow, male-cut jacket and a helmet, it can be difficult to tell. There’s not a lot of character in most bike commute clothing, unfortunately. It’s main focus seems to be function and being visible. But we did our best.
Another interesting thing we noticed is that it was very clear that people were more likely to ride on the sidewalk if there was heavy car traffic. Riding on the sidewalk is often more dangerous to bikers and takes away space from pedestrians. So when motor vehicles intimidate bikers onto the sidewalk, bikes take over pedestrian space. This is one more reason for safe bicycle facilities.
Anyone else do the count today? Post thoughts below.