The number of bicycle trips across the Fremont Bridge continues to climb year-over-year. In fact, a mild winter has helped to break all-time monthly bike count records every month so far in 2015.
In fact, bike counts have increased 14 of the 17 months for which we have year-over-year data. February saw a giant, 25 percent increase in bike volumes compared to February 2014. March saw a 12 percent increase.
This is perhaps especially impressive considering the significant construction headaches that have constrained space on the Fremont Bridge sidewalks. Many people choose to bike across the metal grate and, therefore, don’t get counted. (Be very careful biking on the metal grate roadway, which can be extremely slick when wet)
This data is encouraging because it suggests that more people are taking up biking and making more trips. 2014 saw an 8.5 percent increase over 2013. 2014 was also the first year bike trips on the bridge topped one million in a single year.
The city’s other bike counters also started spitting out their first ever year-over-year data in January. Now would be a great time for someone to create a good online visual tool for this data. I’d love to help make it happen here on Seattle Bike Blog. Get in touch if you’re interested: [email protected].
Here are the data sets on data.seattle.gov (updated monthly):
- 26th Ave SW Greenway at SW Oregon St
- Elliott Bay Trail in Myrtle Edwards Park
- MTS Trail west of I-90 Bridge
- Chief Sealth Trail North of Thistle
- NW 58th St Greenway at 22nd Ave NW
- Burke Gilman Trail north of NE 70th St
- 39th Ave NE Greenway at NE 62nd St
- Broadway Bikeway at Union St
- Spokane Street Bridge (interactive data visual)
OK, I know that the Fremont bridge gets all the love and I’m guessing that it’s because it has a visible counter, but why don’t we get stats from the other bicycle traffic counters on a more regular basis?
See the note at the bottom of the post seeking help creating a visualizer app. I’d love to make that data easier to access, especially since year-over-year data is just now arriving.
I noticed the Freemont bridge counter doesn’t provide data by direction but the others do. How are the counters on Elliott Bay able to derive that information? I would think just using the count on one side of the path as one direction would be a bit misleading as in the case of Elliott Bay at Myrtle Edwards there seems to almost always be pedestrians on the right side of the path at the counter, pushing cyclists to the left side to pass. In such a case would you still be counted as travelling in the actual direction you are going or would it trigger a trip in the opposite direction?
They might have two sensors in-line; which one the wheel crosses first determines direction.
The I-90 Mt’s to Sound trail counter is just two loops. It’s which side of the loop you crossed, not particularly accurate as it’s on a curve so the tendency is to always hit the North side loop both directions. Still it’s the year over year counts that matter, not really the direction.
And directional movement is important because??
The Spokane Street Bridge counter has sensors embedded in the paving on each side of the lane. Double diamond-shapes of sensor wire. That is a design improvement over the Fremont Bridge. I think the sensors with tubes have two tubes to be able to sense direction.
One of the better uses of counters is to see how street improvements increase the overall usage. Directional information can be critical in evaluation of say an intersection which is busy in the morning but not so much in the evening etc.
But yes, just having overall “counts” is very useful in allocating hwy funds for bicycles.
I don’t know how Elliot Bay does it, but on the Fremont bridge there are counters on the east and west sidewalks. They don’t specifically indicate directionality, since it’s a sidewalk and you can go either way, but a large percentage of bicyclists use the west side to go NB and the east side for SB.
Here’s 39th Ave monthly counts:
Just under 50% increase in January and March, 75% increase in February. That’s huge.
Still not near NW 58th’s numbers, which doesn’t help justify prioritizing NE investments. That said, if 39th can maintain 60% y-o-y increases, it should be caught up to NW 58th by 2017!
Of course, Ballard’s about to get a N-S greenway that connects to both the Burke and NW 58th, which I predict will cause NW 58th’s numbers to absolutely skyrocket.
Andres, you got me thinking about that 17th Ave Greenway in Ballard, and I took a look at the design (SDOT link below). It dumps users out at Ballard Ave and Dock Street, leaving them to find their own way to the Burke.
If that design’s current, the city is punting on the question of actually connecting it to the Burke (unsurprisingly, giving the Missing Link mess). Most of those users will end up crossing at 17th and Shilshole, which is a dangerous place.
You’re right, it looks like it might not connect. That’s a huge missed opportunity, if that’s the case. :/
@Damon Oh dear god! I remember commenting on the 17th Greenway awhile back. I was mostly in support of it, as I bike 17th almost every day. My two comments were:
1. Don’t cut off the grid at 57th. If the mailboxes are that big a problem (I have never personally witnessed an issue in the 10 years I’ve used 17th), move the mailboxes.
2. The Greenway NEEDS to continue due south along 17th, across Leary, to Shilshole/45th/future BGT. Sending people southwest is backtracking from where 99.9% of people biking down 17th are going. ALL the people going down 17th will continue down 17th, making the Dock Pl. extension a useless failure, something dreamed up by somebody who has never actually biked 17th.
Both comments apparently went straight into the garbage heap.
Meanwhile, I think the NW 58th Greenway counter broke sometime in February. :(
Yeah, I noticed that. Gotta email SDOT folks and see what’s up. Fingers crossed the data is saved in the box and just didn’t transmit…
The lack of seasonality in the 2014 numbers already makes me a bit skeptical on the accuracy of the counter. Do we have any counts for 58th before it was converted to a Greenway to see the before-after effect?
Here’s some basic analysis on seasonality. I’m not sure if it’s exactly the right measurement, but I found standard deviation of monthly counts as a percentage of mean. 58th varies least, but 39th is pretty close; Fremont and Broadway vary more.
I don’t know how meaningful Broadway numbers are given construction detours. Fremont is really commuter-heavy, and is relatively strongest in the spring, possibly because of bike-commute promotions in April and May. 39th is relatively strong in the fall, possibly because of school trips… or maybe just because usage is growing and the fall comes after the spring in this data.
58th is really mysterious in ways that make me question whether it’s measuring anything: spikes in July and October and otherwise fairly flat usage. Low June usage could be explained by lack of school trips, but that wouldn’t explain April and May. The July spike could be Golden Gardens trips, but some of that would be expected in surrounding months as well. October? Who knows?
I love biking and love biking in Seattle and want everyone to do it more… buuuuut – how much of this is weather? It’s been absurdly nice this winter. Like historically, absurdly nice. That has to account for a lot of this yes?
Some of it, of course. I noted that in the story.
If last year’s growth rate stays the same, we’d expect counts to average 8.5 percent higher than the year previous. I’m guessing a bunch of that 25 percent increase in February was, indeed, the weather. But a lot of it probably wasn’t. I’m sure someone who knows statistics knows a better way to analyze it :-)
Here’s the Broadway PBL:
It looks like counts may actually be decreasing in some cases. I haven’t been up there since the summer, when it was frequently blocked off and signage from the north directed bikes away from it (detour onto Harvard). If things are roughly the same, then the numbers don’t surprise me.
And the 26th Ave SW Greenway:
Did this counter also have some issues in Feb/March?
We definitely need a bike counter at the Montlaje Bridge – year before ST light rail and year after. Data could get city and state moving on making crossing safer – new bridge for bikes and peds wider than present 7 feet. 520 will have 14′ bike/ped lane and drops din to substandard 7 on bridge then 10 where trolley line poles are just north of Montlake Bridge. Federal regulations say busy bike/ped traffic lanes should be 14′ wide. We are allowing our city and state (SR 513) to build a substandard new sidewalk for bikes and peds. Ridiculous!
And, missing from the lists: the Spokane Street Bridge counter, West Seattle.
Up 29% March 2015 0ver March 2014
Here’s our year over year graph from SDOT data. SDOT graphs it just like Fremont.
Pingback: Freshwater Transit Bike Counters And Bike Lanes - Freshwater Transit
This is all well and good, but as a pedestrian, I was quite put off by the rudeness of several of the bikers I encountered yesterday at the Fremont Bridge. Since when is “Out of my way!!” an acceptable greeting or warning? Really rude, folks. Go back and learn some manners, apparently your parents skipped teaching them to you or you were not listening. We all share the space. Nothing makes you more special than the people on foot.
Sorry for your bad experience. But that was an individual who gave you that unacceptable warning. It was not what every person riding a bike does. Please don’t generalize. We have all experienced bad behavior from people on foot (and dogs on foot), on skateboards, on bike, in cars, trucks and buses. That does not mean that every [whatever category person] is stupid, ignorant or a jerk. Telling the people who read this blog to go back and learn some manners is probably not aiming at or finding your target.
Pingback: King 5: Seattle should follow Vancouver’s lead on downtown bike network | Seattle Bike Blog