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Bike counts were way up on first day of SR 99 closure, and West Seattle neighbors deserve a ton of credit

Data from Seattle Traffic Engineer Dongho Chang via Twitter.

The bike counter at the foot of the Spokane Street Bridge to West Seattle measured a 327 percent more trips Monday than seen at this time of year previously. The counter has only measured more trips in a single day a few times before: August 11, when charity bike ride Obliteride used the bridge, and a couple days in May 2016 when a similar Viaduct closure left folks looking for other ways to get around.

OK, sure, the weather Monday was great. But that alone can’t explain the jump. More people biked across the lower West Seattle Bridge Monday than any June, July or August day ever recorded other than Obliteride. That’s incredible, and neighborhood group West Seattle Bike Connections deserves a lot of credit for all their work to help their neighbors learn how to navigate their way around the Viaduct closure even in the winter.

WSBC has not only distributed information to neighbors looking for help getting on a bike, they also lead a couple SurviveRealign99 weekend rides where they invited interested neighbors on a slow group ride from the Junction to downtown and back. This allowed people to learn the route in the comfort of a group and get their questions answered by folks who are familiar with navigating the industrial streets and trails that separate West Seattle and Duwamish Valley from the city center.


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So, other neighborhoods, are you taking notes? It’s not too late to get organized like WSBC and help your neighbors get around in winter by bike.

Though the West Seattle increase really stands out, bike counts across town were way up Monday. As Seattle Traffic Engineer Dongho Chang posted, counts were up 191 percent on the Elliott Bay Trail and 176 percent on the Fremont Bridge compared to January Mondays in recent years:

So good work, everyone. Now let’s keep it going.


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14 responses to “Bike counts were way up on first day of SR 99 closure, and West Seattle neighbors deserve a ton of credit”

  1. Lisa

    I do hope this is a trend, but 1/15/18 and 1/16/17 were both MLK day, which a fair number of 9-5 office workers have off.

    1. Skylar

      MLK day is actually next week (Jan 21). The rain will likely return by then, but then again, the ice will be gone!

      1. Lisa

        Yes, it’s next week, but the last two years it was this week, so the comparisons between the three years are off.

    2. sdv

      Good catch!

      1. Lisa

        I did look back at some other non-holiday Mondays in Januarys past, and the ridership is definitely still up, just not by quite as much. I’m excited to see if this bump maintains itself- if people get used to biking now, maybe they’ll just keep doing it!

  2. bobco85

    Here’s what the weather was like on each of those days (according to Weather Underground, recorded at Boeing Field, temperatures are in Fahrenheit):
    1/14/2019 – high 51°, low 30°, fair, no rain
    1/15/2018 – high 61°, low 39°, fog-mostly cloudy, no rain
    1/16/2017 – high 46°, low 28°, mostly cloudy, no rain

    What is most striking about this is the improvement over last year when the weather was much warmer. I’m curious to see how the rest of the week works out, but it looks good so far!

  3. Law Abider

    Leaving Ballard this morning at 7:30, the bike numbers seemed significantly down from Monday at the same time, when I was surprised at the number of cyclists, despite expecting a larger than normal amount.

    That’s not to say people gave up. I have a feeling that a lot of people decided to wait another 15 to 30 minutes to let the sun warm things up after Monday’s icy mess. Unfortunately, the Fremont Bridge counter is not real time.

    1. Jim Guyana Jones

      The last few days have been icy as hell. I know two bike commuters that had wipe outs on the way to work (in addition to mine). I think that has scared some folks off.

      1. Law Abider

        Last nights commute home, there were still a lot of cyclists, which confirms my suspicion that most shifted later to let the pavement warm up.

        The Fremont Bridge Counter shows Wednesday was similar to Tuesday (little less than 3,400 total, both ways). But both days were down significantly from Monday (about 4,000 total, both ways), so people definitely gave it up after trying on Monday.

        Like you said, Monday wasn’t a good day for first time winter cyclists. I can’t really blame them, it was nasty.

  4. […] know it’s nice that more people are riding bikes during the first few days of the Viaduct closure, but watch what happens as soon as the rain comes […]

  5. […] also seen a spike in bicycle commuting, in the middle of a literal Seattle […]

  6. Still doing it!
    For Thursday, January 17, a rainy, breezy day:
    West Seattle Water Taxi: 933 water taxi trips counted.
    The Spokane Street Bridge: 1,027 bike trips counted A record for a rainy winter day. Every day this week had more bike riders than any previous day since a nice one in October,

    Accomplished at no extra cost to any public agency or program. No extra boat or bridge or shuttle vans or drive&ride parking lots or parking restrictions needed. Let’s cycle through Viadoom!

  7. Ruth Berge

    As a longtime Ballard bicycle commuter , I thought there were more cyclists but this is just anecdotal. My real point is that if I bicycle downtown and there is no bike counter- then I guess I don’t count! Congratulations to West Seattle. I may contact my neighborhood to see what we can do too. But there would be no measure. West Seattle has a pretty nice trail frankly to get to downtown. Ballard? Have you tried crossing the Ballard Bridge? Yes, I could go other ways but I don’t want to get up earlier than I need to so I go the shortest route. There are no bike counters and the “infrastructure” is cars going well above the posted speed limit. We all have challenges and it is really great that West Seattle did this- I hope each individual continues as best they can.

  8. […] “Viadoom”: Seattleites have responded to the shutdown of SR 99 by bicycling a lot more and generally finding other ways to get around. Maybe they don’t need a massive freeway […]

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