Portland's counts of bicycle trips on the four bicycle-friendly Willamette River Bridges (Broadway, Steel, Burnside & Hawthorne) provide an indication of bicycle activity in response to the city's activities to encourage bicycling and make it safer. The story here is "build it and they will come," and "tell people about it and they will ride."
This PDF provides a detailed look of numbers of cyclists on each of the four bridges in 2006.
Bridge Counts and Completeness of Network Feeding the Bridges
Some of the more interesting data. These charts for the Broadway Bridge, Burnside Bridge, and Hawthorne Bridge each show a strong correlation between completeness of the bikeway network feeding each bridge, and increasing ridership. The Burnside Bridge, which has the least complete network of the three, also displays the lowest and flattest ridership levels.
Comprehensive Bicycle Count Data
Following the 2008 bicycle counts, we compiled much of the data into a report. Get it here. This report shows riderhship up in all areas of the city, shows a closing of the gap between male and female riders (more on that later), and bicycles as a growing proportion of all vehicles on the four bicycle-friendly downtown bridges.
According to international transportation researcher John Pucher, who has researched conditions for bicycling and walking across the US and Europe, one indication of a truly bicycle friendly city and country is having equal proportions of men and women cycling. Why? It may be that women are more safety-conscious than men and thus will ride in lower numbers until they feel comfortable on a city's streets. This has shown up in surveys we've conducted: women are more concerned about safety than men.
In Portland, fewer women ride than men; the ratio is approximately 2:1. However, there are encouraging signs. While women represented 21% of all counted cyclists in 1992, by 2006 they represented 32% of all counted cyclists. We also see differences in gender in different parts of Portland. In SE Portland, where bicycle boulevards are a more prominent feature of the bikeway network, the genders are almost balanced. In Outer East and Southwest Portland, where conditions are generally not as favorable for riding, women represent a much lower proportion of overall riders.
Bicycles as Proportion of All Vehicles on Bicycle-Friendly Bridges
Bicycle ridership on the four main bicycle-friendly Willamette River Bridges has more than sextupled since 1991. At the same time, automotive trips on these bridges has held relatively constant. Bicycles now represent 13% of all vehicle trips on those bridges, up from approximately 2% in 1991.
Bicycle Safety varies from country to country. Recent research on bicycle crash and fatality rates in The Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States is shown in this chart. In Portland the crash rate for bicycles has been dropping over time.