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Hawthorne Bridge bike counter has logged over 1,000,000 trips since August

Hawthorne Bridge bike counter has logged over 1,000,000 trips since August

Hawthorne Bridge bike counter hits 1 million

Trip number 1,000,828 at 5:26 pm yesterday.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Yesterday at about 4:00 pm the bicycle counter on the Hawthorne Bridge logged its 1,000,000th trip.

The counter went live on August 8th and reached 500,000 trips just three months later. Yesterday was a fitting day to break the 1 million mark as the daily total was 6,214 — the largest amount of trips since way back in October (the huge spike threw off my projections and I arrived at the bridge 629 trips too late to see number 1 million).

This $20,000 counter (which despite what you might have read was donated to PBOT) stands as an important reminder of the impact bicycling has on Portland. For the past eight months, the Hawthorne Bridge alone carried an average of 4,973 bicycle trips in and out of downtown. That’s about 2,500 vehicles entering downtown that don’t take up parking spaces, or add to the daily gridlock, or spew toxic fumes into the air, or create dangerous public spaces.

Hawthorne Bridge bike counter hits 1 million-1

Non-motorized traffic needs more space on the Hawthorne Bridge.

Imagine what we — as a city, as a region, as a planet full of people — gained and saved by making these 1,000,000 trips on a bicycle rather than in a car or other motorized vehicle.

Standing on the bridge yesterday, I was struck by the fact that despite this important milestone, there was no fanfare. No confetti fell from the bridge arches. The City did not call a press conference, unfurl a huge banner, or single out the 1 millionth rider for a special prize. At first I thought it was a missed opportunity. Then, as the counter flipped trip after trip after trip, I was glad. This is just business as usual in Portland. We no longer need to make a big production out of every bicycling milestone. We are on a mission to become the best bike city in the world and we have a lot of work to do.

You can delve into the counter stats here. (Note that’s not a live online display. The number is refreshed each morning at about 2:30 am.)

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Hawthorne Bridge bike counter has logged over 1,000,000 trips since August

Hawthorne Bridge bike counter has logged over 1,000,000 trips since August

Hawthorne Bridge bike counter hits 1 million

Trip number 1,000,828 at 5:26 pm yesterday.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Yesterday at about 4:00 pm the bicycle counter on the Hawthorne Bridge logged its 1,000,000th trip.

The counter went live on August 8th and reached 500,000 trips just three months later. Yesterday was a fitting day to break the 1 million mark as the daily total was 6,214 — the largest amount of trips since way back in October (the huge spike threw off my projections and I arrived at the bridge 629 trips too late to see number 1 million).

This $20,000 counter (which despite what you might have read was donated to PBOT) stands as an important reminder of the impact bicycling has on Portland. For the past eight months, the Hawthorne Bridge alone carried an average of 4,973 bicycle trips in and out of downtown. That’s about 2,500 vehicles entering downtown that don’t take up parking spaces, or add to the daily gridlock, or spew toxic fumes into the air, or create dangerous public spaces.

Hawthorne Bridge bike counter hits 1 million-1

Non-motorized traffic needs more space on the Hawthorne Bridge.

Imagine what we — as a city, as a region, as a planet full of people — gained and saved by making these 1,000,000 trips on a bicycle rather than in a car or other motorized vehicle.

Standing on the bridge yesterday, I was struck by the fact that despite this important milestone, there was no fanfare. No confetti fell from the bridge arches. The City did not call a press conference, unfurl a huge banner, or single out the 1 millionth rider for a special prize. At first I thought it was a missed opportunity. Then, as the counter flipped trip after trip after trip, I was glad. This is just business as usual in Portland. We no longer need to make a big production out of every bicycling milestone. We are on a mission to become the best bike city in the world and we have a lot of work to do.

You can delve into the counter stats here. (Note that’s not a live online display. The number is refreshed each morning at about 2:30 am.)

In three months, over a half-million bike trips on the Hawthorne Bridge

In three months, over a half-million bike trips on the Hawthorne Bridge

BikeBOT Radio Ride-35

Over 516,00 of them since August 8th, 2012.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Since it went live on August 8th, the bicycle counter on the Hawthorne Bridge has tallied over a half-million bike trips. Or, to be more precise, 516,778 as of 2:00 am this morning.

While not quite as visible (the LED is tough to read in the rising sun), or perfectly located (the eastbound direction would have more impact because the number is much higher in the evening) as PBOT would have preferred, the counter has been a great success thus far. It has counted reliably and it has provided the City with excellent data that they use in myriad ways.

Summer bike traffic-3-3

After averaging about 7,000 bike trips per weekday (and about 4,000 per day on weekends) during the month of August, the number of trips went up significantly in September. In addition to classes starting at Portland State University, I like to think of this September increase as the Bike Commute Challenge Bump — a rise in trips thanks to the Bicycle Transportation Alliance’s annual “competition” that encourages folks to bike to work that might not otherwise. The onset of fall and now the chill of wintry weather has seen trip levels drop considerably the past two months; but we’re still seeing about 5,000 – 5,500 trips per weekday.

Here are the weekly totals in chart form:

Overall, the counter has averaged 6,341 trips per day since it was turned on (the highest day ever was September 25th with 8,305 trips).

But beyond cold, hard statistics, the counter has given Portlanders a greater sense of bike. It reminds people riding by that they are far from alone, and it reminds those of us driving by that there are thousands of people downtown every day that didn’t need a car to get there.

On their “Commuter Central” blog, PBOT put it this way:

“Increasing the number of people who bicycle is a long-range city goal to reduce congestion and air pollution, improve personal health and save Portlanders money by making a low-cost transportation option attractive and safe. A visual bike counter raises public awareness of these goals and highlights the city’s progress in reaching them.”

Poke through the counter stats yourself on this handy website.

——

(In other counting news, The Atlantic Cities has unearthed a great little gizmo that for just $139 lets anyone count traffic.)

In three months, over a half-million bike trips on the Hawthorne Bridge

In three months, over a half-million bike trips on the Hawthorne Bridge

BikeBOT Radio Ride-35

Over 516,00 of them since August 8th, 2012.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Since it went live on August 8th, the bicycle counter on the Hawthorne Bridge has tallied over a half-million bike trips. Or, to be more precise, 516,778 as of 2:00 am this morning.

While not quite as visible (the LED is tough to read in the rising sun), or perfectly located (the eastbound direction would have more impact because the number is much higher in the evening) as PBOT would have preferred, the counter has been a great success thus far. It has counted reliably and it has provided the City with excellent data that they use in myriad ways.

Summer bike traffic-3-3

After averaging about 7,000 bike trips per weekday (and about 4,000 per day on weekends) during the month of August, the number of trips went up significantly in September. In addition to classes starting at Portland State University, I like to think of this September increase as the Bike Commute Challenge Bump — a rise in trips thanks to the Bicycle Transportation Alliance’s annual “competition” that encourages folks to bike to work that might not otherwise. The onset of fall and now the chill of wintry weather has seen trip levels drop considerably the past two months; but we’re still seeing about 5,000 – 5,500 trips per weekday. (Note: Both directions of traffic are counted.)

Here are the weekly totals in chart form:

Overall, the counter has averaged 6,341 trips per day since it was turned on (the highest day ever was September 25th with 8,305 trips).

But beyond cold, hard statistics, the counter has given Portlanders a greater sense of bike. It reminds people riding by that they are far from alone, and it reminds those of us driving by that there are thousands of people downtown every day that didn’t need a car to get there.

On their “Commuter Central” blog, PBOT put it this way:

“Increasing the number of people who bicycle is a long-range city goal to reduce congestion and air pollution, improve personal health and save Portlanders money by making a low-cost transportation option attractive and safe. A visual bike counter raises public awareness of these goals and highlights the city’s progress in reaching them.”

Poke through the counter stats yourself on this handy website.

——

(In other counting news, The Atlantic Cities has unearthed a great little gizmo that for just $139 lets anyone count traffic.)

One month later: Hawthorne bike counter and the Bike Commute Challenge bump

One month later: Hawthorne bike counter and the Bike Commute Challenge bump

bike barometer

(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

This weekend will mark one month since the “bicycle barometer” was installed on the Hawthorne Bridge. According to data posted online by the manufacturer of the counter, there have been 180,556 bicycle trips over the bridge since August 7th — or an average of about 6,000 bike trips per day (including weekends).

Yesterday, the counter tallied its highest mark ever with 7,680 trips. That’s 195 more trips than the 7,485 recorded on the Bridge Pedal Sunday of August 12th, and 248 more trips than the third highest tally of 7,432 that was recording on opening day.


See daily trip counts on the counter’s homepage.

My hunch is that, in addition to the nice warm and dry weather we’re having, September is poised for a bump in bike traffic due to the BTA’s Bike Commute Challenge. That event pits teams of local businesses and organizations against each other in a friendly competition to see who makes the most bike trips. So far, nearly 7,000 riders are logging trips and there are over 1,100 teams participating. It will be fun to see what impact that event has on September’s numbers.

For their part, PBOT is sitting back and watching the data roll in. “Everything’s working well,” says the head of the city’s bicycle program, Roger Geller, “There were some initial kinks making sure the display was receiving the data from both sides of the bridge, but those have been worked out.”

Beyond that, a bit of feedback I’ve heard is that it’s unfortunate the counter display is placed in the westbound direction because commuters (both in cars and on bikes) see a much lower number. Since the whole idea of counter is to promote bicycling and impress people with the large number, this isn’t ideal. The counter location is also very hard to see due to sun glare. According to PBOT, the location was chosen because it was the most suitable place that wouldn’t block the biking/walking path and it’s a “gateway to downtown.”

With one month under its belt, what do you think about the counter?

One month later: Hawthorne bike counter and the Bike Commute Challenge bump

One month later: Hawthorne bike counter and the Bike Commute Challenge bump

bike barometer

(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

This weekend will mark one month since the “bicycle barometer” was installed on the Hawthorne Bridge. According to data posted online by the manufacturer of the counter, there have been 180,556 bicycle trips over the bridge since August 7th — or an average of about 6,000 bike trips per day (including weekends).

Yesterday, the counter — which counts bike traffic in both directions — tallied its highest mark ever with 7,680 trips. That’s 195 more trips than the 7,485 recorded on the Bridge Pedal Sunday of August 12th, and 248 more trips than the third highest tally of 7,432 that was recording on opening day.


See daily trip counts on the counter’s homepage.

My hunch is that, in addition to the nice warm and dry weather we’re having, September is poised for a bump in bike traffic due to the BTA’s Bike Commute Challenge. That event pits teams of local businesses and organizations against each other in a friendly competition to see who makes the most bike trips. So far, nearly 7,000 riders are logging trips and there are over 1,100 teams participating. It will be fun to see what impact that event has on September’s numbers.

For their part, PBOT is sitting back and watching the data roll in. “Everything’s working well,” says the head of the city’s bicycle program, Roger Geller, “There were some initial kinks making sure the display was receiving the data from both sides of the bridge, but those have been worked out.”

Beyond that, a bit of feedback I’ve heard is that it’s unfortunate the counter display is placed in the westbound direction because commuters (both in cars and on bikes) see a much lower number. Since the whole idea of counter is to promote bicycling and impress people with the large number, this isn’t ideal. The counter location is also very hard to see due to sun glare. According to PBOT, the location was chosen because it was the most suitable place that wouldn’t block the biking/walking path and it’s a “gateway to downtown.”

With one month under its belt, what do you think about the counter?

New bike counter tallies 7,432 Hawthorne Bridge bike trips on first day of operation

New bike counter tallies 7,432 Hawthorne Bridge bike trips on first day of operation

6,038 as of 7:49 pm last night.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePorltand)

Portland’s new bike counter had its first full day of operation yesterday and it logged 7,432 bike trips across the Hawthorne Bridge. That number is relatively close to 8,044, which is the average daily number of trips PBOT tallied in their official 2011 counts.

As the counter rolls out, I’m still learning more about it and clarifying some confusion surrounding it.

First, I want to share that contrary to what I understood from PBOT staff, the daily and annual bike trip data is available online. The company we purchased the counter from, Montreal-based Eco-Counter, has a website up for the Hawthorne Bridge counter which displays the data in a few different formats.

Screen grab of Eco Counter website.


Last night, unable to sleep without knowing the first day’s final tally (and didn’t realize it’d be available online), I rolled down to see it at around 11:45 pm. Unfortunately, the counter had already been reset. I’ve shared that glitch with PBOT and they’re looking into it.

I have also heard that some eastbound bicycle trips are not showing up on the display. I have confirmed that PBOT is aware of this issue and that the manufacturer is shipping out a new antennae to solve the problem (it will be installed next week).

What’s important to remember is that, even with the slight timing/reset glitch and this antennae issue, the actual counting of bicycle trips has remained rock solid. In other words, these issues are with the display only, not the underlying data collection.

Speaking of the data collection, I’ve learned a bit more about that as well. Turns out there are two counting mechanisms. Yesterday I explained how the air hoses create a pulse when depressed by a bike tire and then send that pulse via radio frequency to the counter. Today I learned the data from each bike trip is also sent via modem to a server in France, where it’s then beamed onto that website I linked to above.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the Eco-Counter website only offers basic information to the public; but according sources at PBOT, they get to see a much more detailed view. They can analyze and download the data based on direction of bike travel, traffic volume by hourly increments, and more.

One last thing (for now) that I want to clear up is all the confusion about whether or not this is the first such bike counter in North America. A Twitter friend of mine from Ottawa pointed out yesterday that they have a bike counter with a public display; but it turns out that display wasn’t permanent and it has since been taken down. This means that Portland’s bike counter (according to both PBOT sources and officials at Eco-Counter) is the first permanently installed bike counter with a public display in North America. All right then. I hope that’s finally settled.

I’m sure many of you rode past the counter on the way into work this morning. What do you think?

— For more on Portland’s new bike counter, watch this new video from Streetfilms and browse our recent coverage.

New bike counter tallies 7,432 Hawthorne Bridge bike trips on first day of operation

New bike counter tallies 7,432 Hawthorne Bridge bike trips on first day of operation

6,038 as of 7:49 pm last night.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePorltand)

Portland’s new bike counter had its first full day of operation yesterday and it logged 7,432 bike trips across the Hawthorne Bridge. That number is relatively close to 8,044, which is the average daily number of trips PBOT tallied in their official 2011 counts.

As the counter rolls out, I’m still learning more about it and clarifying some confusion surrounding it.

First, I want to share that contrary to what I understood from PBOT staff, the daily and annual bike trip data is available online. The company we purchased the counter from, Montreal-based Eco-Counter, has a website up for the Hawthorne Bridge counter which displays the data in a few different formats. (UPDATE: According to PBOT bike coordinator Roger Geller, the website is updated once a day at 2:00 am.)

Screen grab of Eco Counter website.


Last night, unable to sleep without knowing the first day’s final tally (and didn’t realize it’d be available online), I rolled down to see it at around 11:45 pm. Unfortunately, the counter had already been reset. I’ve shared that glitch with PBOT and they’re looking into it.

I have also heard that some eastbound bicycle trips are not showing up on the display. I have confirmed that PBOT is aware of this issue and that the manufacturer is shipping out a new antenna to solve the problem (it will be installed next week).

What’s important to remember is that, even with the slight timing/reset glitch and this antennae issue, the actual counting of bicycle trips has remained rock solid. In other words, these issues are with the display only, not the underlying data collection.

Speaking of the data collection, I’ve learned a bit more about that as well. Turns out there are two counting mechanisms. Yesterday I explained how the air hoses create a pulse when depressed by a bike tire and then send that pulse via radio frequency to the counter. Today I learned the data from each bike trip is also sent via modem to a server in France, where it’s then beamed onto that website I linked to above.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the Eco-Counter website only offers basic information to the public; but according sources at PBOT, they get to see a much more detailed view. They can analyze and download the data based on direction of bike travel, traffic volume by hourly increments, and more.

One last thing (for now) that I want to clear up is all the confusion about whether or not this is the first such bike counter in North America. A Twitter friend of mine from Ottawa pointed out yesterday that they have a bike counter with a public display; but it turns out that display wasn’t permanent and it has since been taken down. This means that Portland’s bike counter (according to both PBOT sources and officials at Eco-Counter) is the first permanently installed bike counter with a public display in North America. All right then. I hope that’s finally settled.

I’m sure many of you rode past the counter on the way into work this morning. What do you think?

— For more on Portland’s new bike counter, watch this new video from Streetfilms and browse our recent coverage.

Portland makes bikes count on the Hawthorne Bridge

Portland makes bikes count on the Hawthorne Bridge

Bike counter unveiling-6

Let the counting begin!
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

From now on, people crossing the Hawthorne Bridge by bike will count. Literally. A new bike counter (a.k.a. the bicycle barometer) — the first of its kind in the United States — went live at midnight last night and at this morning’s press conference the number was already well over 2,000.

The event was a chance for the City of Portland to unveil the new counter; but the moment really belonged to Cycle Oregon, the local non-profit that gave the City $20,000 to make it a reality. (The idea for the counter came from PBOT Bike Coordinator Roger Geller. Read more background in our archives.)

Jonathan Nicholas, the former columnist for The Oregonian who co-founded Cycle Oregon, was on hand this morning. As usual, his words cut through the clutter and I think they’re worth sharing verbatim:

Bike counter unveiling-4

Cycle Oregon co-founder (and VP of Communications for ODS Health) Jonathan Nicholas.

“The first thing I want to make clear today is that this bike counter is not part of a spandex revolution. The last thing our city needs is more middle-aged men in tight pants. What our city needs is more young men and women with decent paychecks. This bike counter is really part of job creation in our city.

It’s no secret that health care costs are threatening to cripple our urban economy and they’re really inhibiting job creation. We have to find a way for urban dwellers to live more active lifestyles and therefore be healthier. One key part of that is making it easier and safer for people to walk and cycle around our city and one key to making those sort of investments is having accurate, real-time data on which you can base those investments. This counter is all about that.

We’re delighted of course that it’s the first… But this is much more than a game; much more than about beating Seattle — although it’s always nice to beat Seattle to anything. This is a gift. It’s our 25th anniversary and so much of our work that we’ve done through the years has been about rural Oregon. All the money generated through the Cycle Oregon Fun goes back to community developments grants in rural Oregon. But we understand very much that the success we’ve achieved through these year is because so many of the men and women from the city have come out and ridden around Oregon with us.

So here on our 25th anniversary we wanted to sort of give a birthday present back to the citizens of Portland to thank them for all of that support. And so this bike counter is from Cycle Oregon to the City of Portland and we look forward to partnering on many more such ventures in the future.”

Bike counter unveiling-2

PBOT Director Tom Miller.

The counter has been placed on the northern side of the west end of the Hawthorne Bridge, right where the path splits off onto Waterfront Park and into downtown. Standing at about eight feet high, it features an illuminated tally of “Cyclists today” and a vertical chart of “Cyclists this year” (that goes up to 2,000,000).

The counter works via four sets of air hoses strung across the Hawthorne Bridge path (see images below). There are two sets of two hoses placed about 10-15 feet apart on both sides of the bridge. According to PBOT data collection expert Tom Jensen, when someone on a bicycle rolls over the hoses, their weight depresses the hose, which creates a pulse that is converted into a radio signal that beams wirelessly to the counter.

PBOT bike coordinator Roger Geller said they’re using air hoses instead of induction loops (commonly used to trigger traffic signals) because the hoses are more accurate.

Bike counter unveiling-7

Bike counter unveiling-8

Jensen said that while no system is perfect, they’ve rigged the hoses and counter specifically to only register bicycle trips (not walkers, skateboarders, and so on). The system has been set up to only register a trip if it senses a pulse at a certain timing sequence (which is why there are two sets of hoses to run over). The pulse must also have a certain strength. If the pulse isn’t strong enough and if the timing is off, the counter won’t register the trip. Also, if there is something blocking the counter, the radio frequency signal could be blocked (which happened briefly this morning as people stood in front of it).

PBOT’s annual bike counts have been using similar hoses for many years, so they don’t expect the number shown on the new counter to be much different. If that holds true, we can expect well over 8,000 trips registered per day (and we’ll burst the counter’s 2 million trip high water mark in just eight months).


There has been some confusion (party my fault) as to whether or not this is the first bike counter in all of North America. There was some chatter at the event today that — while other counters exist in Ottawa, Montreal, and Toronto, Canada — this was the first one to have a public display (even PBOT’s official press release states: “Portland’s bike counter is the first of its kind in North America”). However, Ottawa resident Alex deVries shared with me via Twitter that not only do they have a counter, the numbers are beamed to a web site and there’s also an illuminated display on the street.

PBOT says they’re considering uploading the data to a website, but it’s not available yet.

But, as Jonathan Nicholas said, this isn’t about who’s first. It’s also not just about the data (PBOT already has access to high-quality bridge bike count data). In many ways, this is about Portland promoting bicycling in a very public way. The running tally is a validation that bicycle trips make up a major portion of Hawthorne Bridge traffic. And while many of us already knew that; now many others will too. This type of positive reinforcement for a behavior the city wants to encourage is a key part of what makes cycling in cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen (where we got the idea in the first place) such a big deal.

Yes, I’d rather have a big press conference to unveil a new separated bikeway that connects the Hawthorne Bridge to the South Park Blocks; but this definitely a cool thing and I’m proud and grateful that Roger Geller, PBOT, and Cycle Oregon made it happen for us.

Portland makes bikes count on the Hawthorne Bridge

Portland makes bikes count on the Hawthorne Bridge

Bike counter unveiling-6

Let the counting begin!
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

From now on, people crossing the Hawthorne Bridge by bike will count. Literally. A new bike counter (a.k.a. the bicycle barometer) — the first of its kind in the United States — went live at midnight last night and at this morning’s press conference the number was already well over 2,000.

The event was a chance for the City of Portland to unveil the new counter; but the moment really belonged to Cycle Oregon, the local non-profit that gave the City $20,000 to make it a reality. (The idea for the counter came from PBOT Bike Coordinator Roger Geller. Read more background in our archives.)

Jonathan Nicholas, the former columnist for The Oregonian who co-founded Cycle Oregon, was on hand this morning. As usual, his words cut through the clutter and I think they’re worth sharing verbatim:

Bike counter unveiling-4

Cycle Oregon co-founder (and VP of Communications for ODS Health) Jonathan Nicholas.

“The first thing I want to make clear today is that this bike counter is not part of a spandex revolution. The last thing our city needs is more middle-aged men in tight pants. What our city needs is more young men and women with decent paychecks. This bike counter is really part of job creation in our city.

It’s no secret that health care costs are threatening to cripple our urban economy and they’re really inhibiting job creation. We have to find a way for urban dwellers to live more active lifestyles and therefore be healthier. One key part of that is making it easier and safer for people to walk and cycle around our city and one key to making those sort of investments is having accurate, real-time data on which you can base those investments. This counter is all about that.

We’re delighted of course that it’s the first… But this is much more than a game; much more than about beating Seattle — although it’s always nice to beat Seattle to anything. This is a gift. It’s our 25th anniversary and so much of our work that we’ve done through the years has been about rural Oregon. All the money generated through the Cycle Oregon Fun goes back to community developments grants in rural Oregon. But we understand very much that the success we’ve achieved through these year is because so many of the men and women from the city have come out and ridden around Oregon with us.

So here on our 25th anniversary we wanted to sort of give a birthday present back to the citizens of Portland to thank them for all of that support. And so this bike counter is from Cycle Oregon to the City of Portland and we look forward to partnering on many more such ventures in the future.”

Bike counter unveiling-2

PBOT Director Tom Miller.

The counter has been placed on the northern side of the west end of the Hawthorne Bridge, right where the path splits off onto Waterfront Park and into downtown. Standing at about eight feet high, it features an illuminated tally of “Cyclists today” and a vertical chart of “Cyclists this year” (that goes up to 2,000,000).

The counter works via four sets of air hoses strung across the Hawthorne Bridge path (see images below). There are two sets of two hoses placed about 10-15 feet apart on both sides of the bridge. According to PBOT data collection expert Tom Jensen, when someone on a bicycle rolls over the hoses, their weight depresses the hose, which creates a pulse that is converted into a radio signal that beams wirelessly to the counter.

PBOT bike coordinator Roger Geller said they’re using air hoses instead of induction loops (commonly used to trigger traffic signals) because the hoses are more accurate.

Bike counter unveiling-7

Bike counter unveiling-8

Jensen said that while no system is perfect, they’ve rigged the hoses and counter specifically to only register bicycle trips (not walkers, skateboarders, and so on). The system has been set up to only register a trip if it senses a pulse at a certain timing sequence (which is why there are two sets of hoses to run over). The pulse must also have a certain strength. If the pulse isn’t strong enough and if the timing is off, the counter won’t register the trip. Also, if there is something blocking the counter, the radio frequency signal could be blocked (which happened briefly this morning as people stood in front of it).

PBOT’s annual bike counts have been using similar hoses for many years, so they don’t expect the number shown on the new counter to be much different. If that holds true, we can expect well over 8,000 trips registered per day (and we’ll burst the counter’s 2 million trip high water mark in just eight months).


There has been some confusion (party my fault) as to whether or not this is the first bike counter in all of North America. There was some chatter at the event today that — while other counters exist in Ottawa, Montreal, and Toronto, Canada — this was the first one to have a public display (even PBOT’s official press release states: “Portland’s bike counter is the first of its kind in North America”). However, Ottawa resident Alex deVries shared with me via Twitter that not only do they have a counter, the numbers are beamed to a web site and there’s also an illuminated display on the street.

PBOT says they’re considering uploading the data to a website, but it’s not available yet. (UPDATE: Eco-Counter, the company we bought the counter from, has published a website with the data.)

But, as Jonathan Nicholas said, this isn’t about who’s first. It’s also not just about the data (PBOT already has access to high-quality bridge bike count data). In many ways, this is about Portland promoting bicycling in a very public way. The running tally is a validation that bicycle trips make up a major portion of Hawthorne Bridge traffic (currently about 20 percent of the total). And while many of us already knew that; now many others will too. This type of positive reinforcement for a behavior the city wants to encourage is a key part of what makes cycling in cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen (where we got the idea in the first place) such a big deal.

Yes, I’d rather have a big press conference to unveil a new separated bikeway that connects the Hawthorne Bridge to the South Park Blocks; but this definitely a cool thing and I’m proud and grateful that Roger Geller, PBOT, and Cycle Oregon made it happen for us.