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Fremont Bridge bike counts continue big year-over-year rise

fremont-chartBike counts over the Fremont Bridge continue to significantly outpace 2013, with June counts up more than 14 percent year-over-year.

In the first half of the year, people made 486,798 bike trips across the bridge. That puts us on pace to break one million bike trips over the bridge in 2014, since fall bike ridership is typically higher than winter.

Even with two very rainy winter months slightly below 2013 levels, overall year-over-year bike trip levels are up 11 percent.

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For more in-depth analysis of the Fremont Bridge bike count data, make sure you read Mike Logsdon’s June statistical series. If you are even more technically-minded, Jake Vanderplas has a Python-powered analysis here (I assume it’s great, but I would be lying if I said I totally understand it … haha.)

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16 responses to “Fremont Bridge bike counts continue big year-over-year rise”

  1. Peri Hartman

    Roughly speaking, it looks like the monthly average is about 20000 cycle crossings/week. (I looked for figures on several sites but couldn’t find that one). Comparing to a site for vehicle crossings, I found a number around 40000 / day.

    That computes to 280,000 vehicle crossing per week. Dividing those numbers gives results in 6.7% of vehicle crossings being made by bicycle.

    That’s way higher than the often quoted 4% for ridership in general. It gets me wondering whether, the bridge being a nexus, that the 4% is really closer to 7% when you consider how many people don’t ride on the exact street where the count was taken.

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      You can get actual weekly counts using the city’s (flash) visual tool here: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/bikecounter_fremont.htm

      You can also find the data in a more malleable format on the city’s data website (updated monthly): https://data.seattle.gov/Transportation/Fremont-Bridge-Daily-Bicycle-Counts/eytj-7qg9

      The 4% number is from the US Census survey. It is a problematic number because it only counts works trips, and does not include multi-modal trips or people who bike sometimes (but not every day). In essence, it is a low-end estimate for bike use, and really only useful as a way of tracking long-term changes in commute habits.

      Other surveys have found that bike use is much, much higher: http://www.seattlebikeblog.com/2013/01/23/survey-cycling-is-extremely-popular-in-seattle/

    2. gurple

      Well, that percentage of bike trips is bound to be higher than elsewhere on the Fremont Bridge, which is a major chokepoint for bicycles but less so for cars, who might be up on Aurora or over on I-5.

      1. gurple

        (or Ballard Bridge)

  2. gurple

    Neat! I love that he did this in a way that everyone can replicate, although I’m too lazy to do it even though this is exactly the kind of thing I do for work. The approach seems reasonable to me, though it might be worthwhile to include interaction terms in the model between rainfall, temp, and hours of daylight, since those are all obviously correlated.

    Also, it looks like he’s accounting for a *linear, steady* increase in ridership in the model, but that’s likely not what we’re seeing. What you might expect along with that gradual uptick, and what the data seem to show, is a big surge for the 2014 not-crappy-weather season, starting around May with Bike to Work Month. Some higher-order terms in the model for time are probably called for.

    But this is very cool stuff!

      1. gurple

        Haha, sorry, I got so caught up in Jake Vanderplas’ Python-based analysis I forgot there was a whole other article here!

    1. Jake

      I agree that higher-order terms would be helpful, but it’s hard to know what terms would be most important. Also, you’d have to be careful not to over-fit such a flexible model. I think two extensions to my analysis might yield some interesting results: either construct polynomial features and use a lasso regularization to shrink the coefficients (thus suppressing unnecessary terms), or use a decision tree/forest of decision trees with some quantitative measure of feature importance. In Python, scikit-learn has those tools available – someone just needs to try it out! Maybe I’ll get around to it some time…

  3. Eli

    I’d like to know how closely it correlates with increase in SBB readership ;-)

  4. Great work by Jake and Tom!
    It looks like the peer-encouragement of Bike Month and Cascade’s bike to work teams really works! Some of the May total above the warmer, drier summer months could also be due to summer vacations. Same happens at Spokane St. Maybe there is a way to find vacation days data, and filter that out. Also, in our mild marine climate, with bike commuters mostly commuting to sedentary jobs inside climate controlled buildings and all the worry about having showers at work after riding in 50-60 degree temps, I think maybe our average comfort zone is quite narrow. Expanding our comfort zone could increase bike riding. If peer-encouragement really works, how about campaigns for how nice and socially acceptable it is to have a little sheen of sweat on arrival at your destination? Or to ride a little slower and take off a layer? And on the beneficial moisturizing effects of rain and mist?

    For weather data, it would be great to see a weather station with the counters, or tie to a nearby station. Sea-Tac can be fairly different from Fremont/downtown. I look at Boeing Field and Pacific Science Center stations when deciding what to wear and mentally preparing for weather on my commute. Use to use Safeco Field data until I found out that the windspeed was taken inside the stadium. Haha.

    1. Peri Hartman

      I like your idea. I’d like to take it a step further. Perhaps CBC or some other org could offer classes in defensive riding. I think I’ve heard of basic training classes before, but I’m thinking of something more in depth.

      Imagine training in an area setup with various hazards and you practice until you don’t have to think about how to react any more. For example, soft car doors could fling open into a supposed bike lane. Or you need to make a quick stop while going downhill on wet pavement. Or you hit gravel while making a turn. Or you need to adjust your speed because of limited sight distance – and a fake car pulls out of a driveway as you approach.

      Lots of training situations could help build confidence in riders. With more confidence, more people will ride.

      1. @ Peri Harman: Sounds like a great idea. Graduate level Urban Riding Skills class, or Adult Bike Rodeo. Shannon Koller is Cascade Bicycle Club’s Education Director. She would be a good contact for making this suggestion.

  5. Josh

    Waiting to see the counter data for July on I-90… how many people will avoid Carmageddon by getting on two wheels?

    It’s only 3 miles from South Bellevue P&R to Mercer Island P&R, yet it bypasses the closure entirely.

    Will anyone try it for the construction and realize they could enjoy it every day?

    Personally, I already find bicycling faster than taking the 550 from Seattle to an office in the Mercer Island business district. (550 may have higher driving speed, but it stops before Mercer Island, and on Mercer Island it stops at the Park & Ride, while my bike takes me door-to-door. )

    1. Gary

      I ran a bit late this morning, but it seemed like there were a fair number of people riding at me that I had never seen before. Plus Cascade had a bike information table at the I-90 tunnel entrance and there were a few folks asking for “best routes” to their destintation.

      As for cars, “big whoop” It sure appears as if most folks made other plans than driving. It looked lighter than usual in both directions which means tonights traffic won’t be that bad either. Tuesday of course all those stories about “it’s not so bad” will filter out and more folks will try their usual commute plus the President is visiting… should make it worse than Monday with Wednesday returning to not so bad in reaction to Tuesday……

      Still another great day to ride. No problems getting around the construction this morning.

  6. Gary Anderson

    It will be interesting to see how the Westlake cycle track affects the Fremont Bridge bike counts.

  7. […] – Everyone is biking across the Freemont Bridge. […]

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