The 2010 Portland Bicycle Count Report tells many stories.
Our Bicycle Coordinator Roger Geller conveyed an important one last week: Portlanders switching to bicycling have reduced congestion on four Willamette River bridges while increasing the number of people getting to and from downtown.
On four pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly Willamette River bridges (Broadway, Burnside, Hawthorne and Steel), the total number of vehicle crossings has increased by 8% while the auto crossing has dropped by 4% during the last 20 years.
Geller uses the Hawthorne Bridge to illustrate how people riding bikes are making it better for drivers:
In the case of the Hawthorne Bridge, the negative effects of congestion have been kept at bay. While the number of vehicles crossing the Hawthorne Bridge increased by 20% between 1991 and 19982008, that increase has been almost wholly in bicycle traffic. Had the increase been - as it might be in most places - by automobiles, then the intersections at either ends of the bridge would likely have failed in their ability to effectively and efficiently move traffic.
In other words, with more Portlanders choosing to ride bicycles, our bridges are moving more people without costly lane expansions or increased pollution from automobile exhaust.
Read the other posts in our Portland Bicycle Count series:
Biking and Gender
Portland 2006 bicycle counts vs. 2010
Portland bike ridership reaches highest level