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With the upper West Seattle Bridge closed, bike trips across the low bridge are higher than non-outbreak years

Chart shoring the change in bike counts in 2020 vs the 2014 through 2019 average on the Spokane Street Bridge.As we already saw in our previous post, the covid-19 pandemic has totally scrambled the typical ridership data collected by Seattle’s 24/7 bike counters. On the Fremont Bridge, for example, total ridership is down about 20% compared to the 2013-19 average, but weekend ridership is up a stunning 71%.

But the Spokane Street Bridge, the low bridge to West Seattle, has a more complicated story because the city closed the high bridge March 23 due to concerns about cracking and damage. As a result, biking has become the most reliable way to get across the Duwamish River for many residents.

The bike counts show that bike volumes tanked in March as the shutdown hit and many people either lost their jobs or started working from home. This was the same pattern seen in many other counters in the city. But then the high bridge closed, and bike trips in April were even a bit higher than Aprils without a pandemic. You can see the daily bike trips increase after the bridge closed:

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Chart showing daily Spokane Street Bridge bike counts in 2020.Of course, the numbers are likely going to dip this weekend thanks to the planned evening and night closures for maintenance.

Looking for advice on biking in West Seattle? Check out the community group West Seattle Bike Connections. They are very helpful and friendly. We also made a video walking through some common bike routes in the neighborhood complete with satellite flyovers so you can an idea of what to expect.

Our revamped data-tracking system will make it easier to track the monthly changes in bike counts data, so stay tuned for when the May data comes in.

Here are the monthly counts since the counter has been active:

Chart showing the monthly bike counts on the Spokane Street Bridge.

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2 responses to “With the upper West Seattle Bridge closed, bike trips across the low bridge are higher than non-outbreak years”

  1. ChefJoe

    If you’re going to compare to past averages you could try to give us standard error of the mean so we can tell if the change this month is significant or within past years counts. I’m not sure the last chart supports this narrative.

    1. ChefJoe, if the data analysis was to be refined, it would be also useful to correlate it with daily and monthly weather data, which has the biggest effect from one year to the next for any given month. Also, to compensate and adjust for the periods when the counter has been out of commission due to theft of copper wire, and two periods wnen the counts were extraordinarily high due to closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Even without those refinements, it does seem apparent that the current counts have really gone up, even though there have been plenty of rainy or showery spring days this year.

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