January 30, 2015

Chris Bruntlett: Count

From Modacity:

 An impressive 59,042 trips over the Burrard Bridge so far in January. Infrastructure – not weather – shapes a great cycling city.



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  1. Nothing like a steady stream of real numbers to say: “There are plenty of people riding bikes”. In January yet.

    Thanks Chris.

  2. We’ll easily break 60,000 for the month, which would be an 11% increase over 2014, and 71% over 2013.

    Previous Januaries look like this, according to the City of Vancouver

    2014 54,000
    2013 35,000
    2012 35,000
    2011 41,000
    2010 46,000

  3. I’ve been working from home most of the winter or the numbers would be even higher.

    Infrastructure matters, but we need to admit that January 2015 has been remarkably warm and unseasonably dry. About 6 years ago we had a winter with a foot of snow on the ground for 3 straight weeks. If that had happened this year the cycling numbers would have been much lower.

    1. It’s true that snow is a major deterrent, although the city actually does plow and salt the major routes. The big problem is getting TO the major routes.

      We’ve certainly had some nice sunny stretches this month, and some unseasonably warm weather. But my backyard weather station tells me that we’ve had more rain this month than the average for the last 7 Januaries (176mm so far this month compared to an average of 166mm).

      The mantra that “Vancouver gets too much rain to cycle in” is, IMHO, wrong for two reasons.

      First, cycling in the rain is really no big deal if you just get a waterproof jacket and set of overpants. I admit that there’s a lot of psychological resistance, but every time I’ve done it the big drag is the dread before going out, not the experience itself. For me, the worst part is just the need to put the gear on and take it off.

      Secondly, in my experience it really doesn’t rain as much here as people seem to think. After equipping myself with waterproof gear I find myself only using it for perhaps 10% of my trips in the “wet” months like January. Most of the other days it’s either dry or the rain is light or intermittent enough that I don’t even bother to put on all the gear.

      1. Hi Sean: Agreed. I rarely wear my rain gear, because heavy enough rain is really rare enough that I can easily plan around it.

        What we are seeing here is a variation of the now-limited anti-bike argument ” there are no cyclists, so why spend all this money and inconvenience motorists”. The growth and visibility of people travelling on bikes is now so obvious that these critics are reduced to weak conjecture about imaginary scenarios in which the numbers go down.

        1. Well as I said, the biggest issue about biking in the rain is psychological. The same applies to helmets. So sure, rain definitely deters many people, doubtless more than helmets. But I still think it’s worth pointing out that rain in Vancouver isn’t really as huge an obstacle as a lot of people believe it to be.

  4. People ride their bikes in January. Lots of them.

    And, if alien hordes descended from the sky, the numbers might go down.

    But personally, I prefer to focus on the positive and the present. Let the sour prognosticators of doom and gloom scour the world for negativity, and focus on that which is the worst.

  5. The only problem being that during summer you have 2 1/2 to 3 times as much cyclists as in January. So your cycling infrastructure has to support peak in the summer and your road/transit infrastructure has to support peak in the winter. That is of course if most of those bike trips are not recreational trips. In that case, it really does not matter as they would not have happened without the biking infrastructure.

    1. You get the same issue with car sharing. Modo use spikes in the summer so we might in the future get an annual leveling out of car usage