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Tilikum Crossing already seems to be boosting bike traffic (for real this time)

Tilikum Crossing already seems to be boosting bike traffic (for real this time)

Sunday Parkways September 2015-5.jpg

Crossing Tilikum.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Two months ago, we made an unfortunate error: We ran a post observing that the new Tilikum Crossing was simultaneously boosting bike traffic and reducing bike congestion on the Hawthorne Bridge sidewalks.

Trouble was, the source of our data — the Hawthorne Bridge’s automated bike counter — had been malfunctioning, so the findings were bogus.

Now the better data has arrived … and it shows pretty much the same thing that the fake data had seemed to.

Combined bike traffic over the Hawthorne and Tilikum bridges since Oct. 1 is 20 percent higher than bike traffic over the Hawthorne in 2014.

Screenshot 2015-12-21 at 3.27.22 PM

(Data: automated bike counters. Charts: BikePortland.)

And thanks to people shifting their trips to Tilikum, bike counts on the Hawthorne are down 18 percent this fall. That’s a welcome change on a bridge where crowding often worsens tension among people biking, skating and walking.

However, the first few full months of Tilikum data also show another trend worth watching: during the rainy season, Tilikum bike traffic has been falling much faster than Hawthorne traffic.

Screenshot 2015-12-21 at 3.27.41 PM

What’s going on here?

It could be that Tilikum users are disproportionately likely to switch to a different mode or skip a nonessential bike trip in nasty weather. If that’s the case, we’d expect this ratio to climb back up next summer.

It could be that people are souring on Tilikum for some reason and switching back to Hawthorne. If that’s the case, we might expect this ratio to keep gradually leveling off.


It could be that Tilikum was still seeing a surge of “curiosity rides” in October. If that’s the case, future ratios will probably keep hovering around 40 percent.

Whatever the case, this is clearly a sign of something that ought to be obvious: just like new auto lanes, useful new bike infrastructure attracts users.

In engineering jargon, bike infrastructure induces demand.

Sunday Parkways September 2015-4.jpg

Back in 1999, skeptics of the Hawthorne Bridge’s sidewalk improvement argued that wider sidewalks were a costly boondoggle — more space for biking than the bridge would ever need.

Over the 10 years that followed, bike traffic across the bridge tripled.

All of which means it’s especially important for us to keep looking for ways to improve the connections to Tilikum. If we can learn anything from its northern neighbor, it’s that if you build it and people come, more people will be on the way soon.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org


The post Tilikum Crossing already seems to be boosting bike traffic (for real this time) appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Tilikum Crossing takes pressure off crowded Hawthorne Bridge

Tilikum Crossing takes pressure off crowded Hawthorne Bridge

Sunday Parkways September 2015-5.jpg

Tilikum Crossing during Sunday Parkways last weekend.
(Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Here’s a riddle to ask grandchildren: How did Portland make its most popular biking bridge better to use while simultaneously getting fewer people to use it?

The answer, of course, is “it built a totally different bridge a little way upriver.”

The Sept. 12 opening of Tilikum Crossing has cut Hawthorne Bridge bike traffic 33 percent, according to the bike counters on the two bridges.

bride traffic trend

Basically all of that reduced traffic seems to have shifted to the new Tilikum.

There’s no sign yet that the two-bridge combo is already drawing more bike traffic than the Hawthorne alone. Though the bridges’ combined bike count for September is 9 percent above the Hawthorne’s previous September high (captured in 2012) celebratory events like Sellwood Sunday Parkways seem to fully account for that jump.

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When asked about daily bike traffic numbers on the Tilikum, Portland Bureau of Transportation Bicycle Coordinator Roger Geller thinks it’s still too early for a full analysis. “There’s still a lot of curiousity about the bridge,” he said in an interview last week. “It’s still kind of a destination. A novelty. It takes at least three months for people to figure out whether the bridge makes sense for them to use or not.”

Geller added that Metro is leading an effort in partnership with PBOT, TriMet, and researchers at Portland State University to collect baseline traffic and origin/destination data for bike trips across the bridge.

During its first two weeks open, Tilikum actually carried 15,000 more bikes than the Hawthorne. This week, though Tilikum traffic has fallen back to about half of Hawthorne traffic, which seems likely to be closer to its long-term state.

But the shift is already great news for people walking and biking on the Hawthorne, which has suffered from summertime bike congestion for years.

Bike traffic on Hawthorne Bridge-3

For those of use not navigating those bridges in rush hour, what matters will be how the increased comfort of the Hawthorne, the existence of the attractive new Tilikum, and the opening of the vastly improved Sellwood Bridge in a few months shape Portlanders’ habits over the course of the next few years.

Have you noticed a difference on the Hawthorne? Has Tilikum proved to be a better crossing for some of your trips? Will the new Sellwood?

Jonathan Maus contributed reporting to this story.


The post Tilikum Crossing takes pressure off crowded Hawthorne Bridge appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Tilikum Crossing may have boosted bike traffic already (corrected)

Tilikum Crossing may have boosted bike traffic already (corrected)

Sunday Parkways September 2015-5.jpg

Tilikum Crossing during Sunday Parkways last weekend.
(Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Correction 10/5: Unfortunately, an earlier version of this post was based on inaccurate data. As explained in the comments by Portland Bicycle Planning Coordinator Roger Geller (and first noticed by reader Psyfalcon), the Hawthorne counter failed to capture eastbound bike data from Sept. 9 through the end of the month. This problem wasn’t noted on the city’s website but we should have noticed the east/west discrepancy and checked with the city before running this story.

This means it’s likely that the Tilikum has boosted total bike traffic across the Willamette, but that Hawthorne bike traffic hasn’t dropped by anywhere close to one-third. It’ll take several weeks to learn the truth. In the meantime, we regret the error. The original (incorrect) version of the post follows.

Here’s a riddle to ask grandchildren: How did Portland make its most popular biking bridge better to use while simultaneously getting fewer people to use it?

The answer, of course, is “it built a totally different bridge a little way upriver.”

The Sept. 12 opening of Tilikum Crossing has cut Hawthorne Bridge bike traffic 33 percent, according to the bike counters on the two bridges.

bride traffic trend

Basically all of that reduced traffic seems to have shifted to the new Tilikum.

There’s no sign yet that the two-bridge combo is already drawing more bike traffic than the Hawthorne alone. Though the bridges’ combined bike count for September is 9 percent above the Hawthorne’s previous September high (captured in 2012) celebratory events like Sellwood Sunday Parkways seem to fully account for that jump.

– Advertisement –


When asked about daily bike traffic numbers on the Tilikum, Portland Bureau of Transportation Bicycle Coordinator Roger Geller thinks it’s still too early for a full analysis. “There’s still a lot of curiousity about the bridge,” he said in an interview last week. “It’s still kind of a destination. A novelty. It takes at least three months for people to figure out whether the bridge makes sense for them to use or not.”

Geller added that Metro is leading an effort in partnership with PBOT, TriMet, and researchers at Portland State University to collect baseline traffic and origin/destination data for bike trips across the bridge.

During its first two weeks open, Tilikum actually carried 15,000 more bikes than the Hawthorne. This week, though Tilikum traffic has fallen back to about half of Hawthorne traffic, which seems likely to be closer to its long-term state.

But the shift is already great news for people walking and biking on the Hawthorne, which has suffered from summertime bike congestion for years.

Bike traffic on Hawthorne Bridge-3

For those of use not navigating those bridges in rush hour, what matters will be how the increased comfort of the Hawthorne, the existence of the attractive new Tilikum, and the opening of the vastly improved Sellwood Bridge in a few months shape Portlanders’ habits over the course of the next few years.

Have you noticed a difference on the Hawthorne? Has Tilikum proved to be a better crossing for some of your trips? Will the new Sellwood?

Jonathan Maus contributed reporting to this story.


The post Tilikum Crossing may have boosted bike traffic already (corrected) appeared first on BikePortland.org.

What a difference the sun makes: Hawthorne bike traffic up 46% over last February

What a difference the sun makes: Hawthorne bike traffic up 46% over last February

Summer bike traffic-4-4

You might call this winter the September that never ended.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

For all the freakishness of the warmest February in Portland history — forget the wildfires and snowpack, think of where housing prices are headed if we turn gradually into San Diego — we’ve all enjoyed the benefits.

At least 37,571 more times than last year, anyway.

That’s the number of additional bike trips taken over the Hawthorne Bridge (in both directions) as captured last month by Cycle Oregon’s bike counter, compared to February 2014.

hawthorne with circles

February 2014 wasn’t a normal one, either. Its multi-day snow and ice storms led to some of the lowest one-day bike counts ever. Compared to February 2013, bike traffic last month was up just over 10 percent.

The post What a difference the sun makes: Hawthorne bike traffic up 46% over last February appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Hawthorne Bridge bike trips up just 0.4% in 2014

Hawthorne Bridge bike trips up just 0.4% in 2014

Summer bike traffic-8-8

Over 1.7 million trips in 2014.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

As of yesterday, there were 1,712,172 bicycle trips across Portland’s Hawthorne Bridge in 2014. That’s an impressive number — but it represents just a paltry 0.4 percent increase over last year’s total.

The numbers come from the electronic bicycle trip counter that has been tracking daily traffic (in both directions) since August 2012. With the end of 2014, we now have our first two full years of data to compare. The numbers provide more evidence that Portland’s bike usage has plateaued.

As you can see from the chart below, there were six months in 2013 that actually had more recorded bicycle trips than 2014.

bridge-ccountsmonth

And here’s how the trip counts compare in the last four months of 2012, 2013 and 2014:

bridge-chart1

Number of trips from September through December for the past three years. (Not much to write home about.)

Up in Seattle, the Fremont Bridge bicycle counter logged over 1 million trips for the 2014 calendar year — good for an increase of 8.3 percent over 2013.

It will be interesting to see how Portland’s trip numbers compare to the Bureau of Transportation’s official bike counts for 2013 and 2014. Usually PBOT would have published the 2013 bicycle count report by now, but according to PBOT bicycle coordinator Roger Geller, they will not release that report. Instead, PBOT will publish a two-year report this spring that will include 2013 and 2014 data.

The last official PBOT bicycle count, released in May 2013, revealed a 3.3 percent increase in bicycle ridership citywide between 2011 and 2012.

The post Hawthorne Bridge bike trips up just 0.4% in 2014 appeared first on BikePortland.org.

‘Day without the bicycle’ follow-up: How to make 1/3 of Portland’s bikers vanish

‘Day without the bicycle’ follow-up: How to make 1/3 of Portland’s bikers vanish

bike count decline

The other day I did a fun post with some back-of-the-envelope math to estimate what it might look like if every Portland bike commuter switched to a car for one day. Here’s a tidbit I didn’t have room to include: massive temporary shifts from bike to other modes already happen regularly.

They happen every time it rains. Rain eliminates about one in three bike trips citywide, to be precise.

Two weeks ago, we had a rare rainy spell on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Hawthorne Bridge bike counter showed a drop of 37 percent from the July average for those days.

Not all of those trips switched to cars, of course — it’s likely that a lot of them switched to public transit or (especially with non-work errands) were just skipped or delayed until the rain stopped.

This isn’t just something that happens in the summer. Last November, city traffic count expert Tom Jensen sent BikePortland a chart that used “some more or less random samples” of bike counts to find a similar drop in bike traffic population that week:

jensen bike counts

So there’s both a seasonal variation in local bike traffic, and day-by-day variation.

Aside from the trivia about how many bike trips go away in the rain, we’ve got two quick takeaways from this:

No, this is not because Portlanders are wimps, etc. It’s because people find it more pleasant to bike when it is not raining than when it is raining. Generally mild weather is a big reason why a lot of people bike in Portland, San Francisco and Seattle (not to mention Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Copenhagen) in the first place.

Portland’s transportation system absorbs all these trips without much trouble. There’s definitely a slowdown in traffic when it rains, but some of that is due to the weather itself. On the other hand, rush hours are also noticeably more crowded on TriMet in heavy rain. Go figure.

The post ‘Day without the bicycle’ follow-up: How to make 1/3 of Portland’s bikers vanish appeared first on BikePortland.org.

‘Day without the bicycle’ follow-up: How to make 1/3 of Portland’s bikers vanish

‘Day without the bicycle’ follow-up: How to make 1/3 of Portland’s bikers vanish

bike count decline

The other day I did a fun post with some back-of-the-envelope math to estimate what it might look like if every Portland bike commuter switched to a car for one day. Here’s a tidbit I didn’t have room to include: massive temporary shifts from bike to other modes already happen regularly.

They happen every time it rains. Rain eliminates about one in three bike trips citywide, to be precise.

Two weeks ago, we had a rare rainy spell on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Hawthorne Bridge bike counter showed a drop of 37 percent from the July average for those days.

Not all of those trips switched to cars, of course — it’s likely that a lot of them switched to public transit or (especially with non-work errands) were just skipped or delayed until the rain stopped.

This isn’t just something that happens in the summer. Last November, city traffic count expert Tom Jensen sent BikePortland a chart that used “some more or less random samples” of bike counts to find a similar drop in bike traffic population that week:

jensen bike counts

So there’s both a seasonal variation in local bike traffic, and day-by-day variation.

Aside from the trivia about how many bike trips go away in the rain, we’ve got two quick takeaways from this:

No, this is not because Portlanders are wimps, etc. It’s because people find it more pleasant to bike when it is not raining than when it is raining. Generally mild weather is a big reason why a lot of people bike in Portland, San Francisco and Seattle (not to mention Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Copenhagen) in the first place.

Portland’s transportation system absorbs all these trips without much trouble. There’s definitely a slowdown in traffic when it rains, but some of that is due to the weather itself. On the other hand, rush hours are also noticeably more crowded on TriMet in heavy rain. Go figure.

The post ‘Day without the bicycle’ follow-up: How to make 1/3 of Portland’s bikers vanish appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Only 32 bikes crossed the Hawthorne Bridge Sunday, counter says

Only 32 bikes crossed the Hawthorne Bridge Sunday, counter says

The Hawthorne Bridge bike counter on
Friday, in a lull between the storms.
(Photo by Roger Geller.)

Mother Nature finally found a way to keep Portlanders off their bikes on Sunday: a foot of fresh snow followed by a dangerous ice storm.

The Hawthorne Bridge bike counter (which was donated by Cycle Oregon) detected only 32 pairs of wheels crossing in both directions during the entire day. It’s by far the lowest total recorded since the counter was installed in August 2012.

On Friday, the counter picked up 308 bikers, the second-lowest weekday traffic to date after Christmas Day, 2013. On Thursday, when the storm hit midday,
“>1,773 people made it across the bridge westbound
.

On a more normal midwinter day, like last Monday, the counter usually finishes the day with totals in the 4,000s and low 5,000s. In summer, daily totals are usually in the high 6,000s and 7,000s.

The bike counter isn’t perfectly precise, and it’s likely that a layer of snow and ice on the bridge dampened the bridge counts a bit. But it’s safe to say that Sunday was not a great day to cross a bridge on your bike.

Update 6:20 pm: City data collection specialist Tom Jensen writes to add: “I would think the hoses would be fine for counting unless they were in solid ice or in a couple of inches of packed snow. This morning it looked like the path had been more or less clear of snow but I don’t know when or by who (probably MultCo).”

Data from the bridge counter’s website. (Click to enlarge.)

City will celebrate one year, one million bike trips over Hawthorne Bridge

City will celebrate one year, one million bike trips over Hawthorne Bridge

Hawthorne Bridge bike counter hits 1 million-7

Bike trips are worth celebrating.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) plans on making some noise about the success of cycling on the Hawthorne Bridge. To toast the upcoming one-year anniversary of the automated bicycle counter and the 1 millionth trip of 2013, PBOT is hosting a special “Breakfast on the Bridges” event this Friday (7/26).

When the counter reached 1 million trips back in April, we wondered why there wasn’t any fanfare. It seemed like a perfect opportunity to tout cycling, but the City didn’t make a peep. Perhaps now that the bureau seems to be finally settling in with two new faces at the helm (Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick and new Director Leah Treat), they are ready to get their cycling groove back.

“That’s one million times people are improving their health… saving money on gas and car repair, and decreasing traffic congestion, all while having fun commuting and getting around.”
— Steve Novick, Commissioner of Transportation

According to a PBOT statement, the city staffers will join volunteers with Shift for the event between 8:00 and 9:00 am on Friday (Novick’s visit to the event last month must have left a good impression). They will hand out “millionth-trip themed doughnuts” and they’ll be offering to take photos of riders next to the counter and a “One Million + Me” sign. And there’s even a social media component: “Anyone who has crossed the bridge by bicycle, skateboard or other non-motorized method is encouraged to share their role in reaching the million-trip milestone on social media with the #MillionBikes hashtag.”

Here’s more about the event from Commissioner Novick:

“One million is a nice round number people can be proud of. That’s one million times people are improving their health, reducing their own and other people’s health insurance costs, saving money on gas and car repair, and decreasing traffic congestion, all while having fun commuting and getting around. Plus, it’s only the middle of the year with lots more pedal strokes ahead of us. Keep going Portlanders.”

Since it was installed on August 8th, the counter — which was donated to the city by Cycle Oregon — has logged over 1.6 million trips

While Friday’s celebration will be fun, PBOT is also telling the local media that the counter is “has a serious purpose, giving transportation planners a useful tool to collect data, track bicycle use and plan transportation improvements and public investments for all modes of transportation… A visual bike counter raises public awareness of [City adopted] goals and highlights the city’s progress in reaching them.”

This is a very positive sign for PBOT. I think they’ve missed a few opportunities lately to tout their successes (NE Multnomah should have a big ribbon-cutting ceremony), so hopefully this is just an example of things to come. Spreading the word to the local media and being proactive with the cycling narrative is essential to moving forward. Nice work PBOT! I hope to see a big crowd on the bridge Friday morning.

See daily updated stats from the Hawthorne Bridge counter here and read our past coverage.