October 5, 2015

Count: The Mysterious Burrard Bridge Bike Decline

From Ohrn:

Another puzzling result. For the third month in a row, the number of counted bike rides has decreased by comparison to 2014.

  • September 2015 bike rides: 124,378 (12.4% decrease over September 2014)
  • 2015 year-to-date rides: 1,167,494 (15.5% increase over 2014 YTD)

Let the speculation begin.
Say hello to Denise and Jeff Leigh, who met me on Oct 1 when I checked the numbers:


Ohrn count

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  1. Small bumps up and down aren’t really surprising. Without surveys and other info, including overall people counts across the Burrard Bridge, it is hard to look at a 12% drop and ascribe it to anything.

  2. It might be just normal up and down of things. I think the worry is that someone will say that cycling infrastructure is not a legitimate thing to spend public money on. I hope someday that this will no longer be a worry. That it should be expected everywhere regardless of amount of usage much like we have sidewalks in places where low numbers of people walk or wide paved streets that receive very little amounts of motor vehicles.

  3. The demographic of Kitsilano is changing. No one who would normally ride a bike can afford to live there. Same with the west end. Rent is so high now that students can’t afford to live there and the only people commuting from the west end to kits (across the Burrard St bridge) would be students on their way to UBC, those students are living farther east now. And those who live in Kits can’t afford to go anywhere because of their suffocating mortgages so they don’t go downtown for any reason. Plus the flight of young people from the west end of Vancouver is a real thing. People who would normally ride bikes are moving east of Main and with the beer tasting rooms and the relaxing of liquor laws there’s lots of great new places east of Main to keep people east of Main. Sorry to link to a Globe article but:
    Younger people, though not exclusively, are the majority of people riding bikes everywhere. There are simply fewer young people living west of Main and therefor fewer people riding across the Burrard Bridge.

    1. Huh? So young people suddenly abandoned Kits since June when ridership soared to record levels. Why bother writing such illogical nonsense.
      Anyway, cycling is getting to be pretty equal among the age groups.

    2. For that analysis to explain the counts, all those young people would have still been moving to Kits up until a couple of months ago, and then had a mass exodus in September. Recall that year to date numbers are up more than 15% over last year, and the trend lines are upwards.

    3. “… the only people commuting from the west end to kits (across the Burrard St bridge) would be students on their way to UBC”
      The display counter is great for public awareness, but the published monthly numbers are better for analysis. They give a breakdown of average midweek daily trips (Tues to Thur) Those numbers show that while total riders dropped slightly year over year in July and August, mid week trips rose slightly both months. That suggests more commuters using the bridge, and fewer weekend riders.

      1. With further exploration of the data ( http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/Bike-lane-stats-by-month.pdf ) it would suggest the article itself has no basis for even existing. If you look at the last four months of the year for every year since 2010 you’ll see the “normal” ridership is quite consistent across most years (2010: 10100 riders, 2011: 10500 riders, 2012: 10900 riders, 2013: 10300 riders, all very consistent and similar) (though if the population of the West End, Kits has gone up, steady ridership numbers actually suggests a steady decline) But the article discusses a “mysterious” drop in ridership year over year, from last year, of about 15%. In 2014, ridership for the last 4 months of the year totalled 12000 riders, or about 15% more than a very consistent ridership of 10500-ish riders in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. So the article shouldn’t be about the mysterious decline in riders this year, but pointing out last year’s anomaly of 15% more riders than normal, and how this year is right back where it should be (trending toward 10200 riders, or 15% less than last year, or “nothing to write about here, sorry for wasting your time.”)
        But if ridership numbers remain similar, and population increases, then effectively ridership has been slowly and steadily dropping since 2010.

      2. I think the reason for the installation of the public display counter was to make people more aware of the cycling volumes. The data was always available on line. The original post had the same purpose, to get people aware of and talking about cycling trends. This thread is the result.
        It serves a terrific purpose, it allows us to dispel myths repeated above, like:
        “The demographic of Kitsilano is changing. No one who would normally ride a bike can afford to live there”
        “There are simply fewer young people living west of Main and therefor fewer people riding across the Burrard Bridge.”
        It always helps to read past the headline.

  4. It was cooler in August and September. One or two thousand people more cycle over the bridge in hot weather to go to the beaches.
    As well, the improvements to Pt Grey were finished and ridership had a chance to rise through the summer last year. Typically, cycling has increased following improvements. There have been no significant improvements finished in the last year and a half so it is not surprising cycling is not increasing year over year now.

    1. June-Aug is a peak visitor season, we who work in the tourism industry see wide-spread and significant drop off of many numbers after Labour Day.
      Was reading a forum on AirBnB and people couldn’t figure out why inquiries have really fallen. Out came the conspiracy theories.

  5. Maybe we had peak bike and now it’s been and gone.
    New car sales are at record levels.
    B.C. New Vehicle Sales Close Out Summer on a High Note.
    By Mira Posted September 23, 2015
    British Columbia continued to witness high new vehicle sales throughout the summer. In comparison to August 2014, this past August saw an increase of 3.8%, above the national average of 2.3%. …
    B.C. is also experiencing it’s best year to date. It’s already sitting at an increase of 7.4% – the highest of all the provinces. ”

    1. I would doubt there would be an increase in VW sales now.
      Also, there is a direct correlation between fuel prices and VKT and sales. One day the US glut in fracked oil will taper off, prices will increase and vehicle sales fall.

      1. I meant to type “Hopefully they’ll NOW stop interfering…”.
        (Hopefully I’ll start proof reading what I write before clicking on Send.)

  6. Back to school and worse weather = fewer recreational cyclists (children, teens, and families cycling together). No mystery.