In just three months time, the Hawthorne Bridge bike counter has counted over 500,000 bike trips.
The nonprofit group Cycle Oregon donated the bike counter to the City of Portland. On August 8th, the counter began tracking each bike crossing the sidewalks along the Hawthorne Bridge. By the end of Election Day, the counter had logged 505,393 bike trips across the bridge since the installation.
Increasing the number of people who bicycle is a long-range city goal to reduce congestion and air pollution, improve personal health and save Portlanders money by making a low-cost transportation option attractive and safe. A visual bike counter raises public awareness of these goals and highlights the city’s progress in reaching them.
“Today is about getting more people decent paychecks. Rising healthcare costs continue to cripple job creation in our city. We have to find ways for urban dwellers to enjoy more active lifestyles,” said Cycle Oregon Co-founder Jonathan Nicholas at the opening event on August 8th, 2012.
The number of Portlanders crossing the Hawthorne Bridge has increased dramatically since the City began conducting bike counts in the early 1990s. Since 1992, peak bike trips across the Hawthorne Bridge have increased by over 400% from 1,500 to 8,044 in 2011. November 2011 bike counts are higher than some summer counts from the early 2000s.
With the increase in bicycling, more people are using the Hawthorne Bridge to work, shop, and play while the number of cars using the bridge remains relatively constant.
In the same way that counting automobiles is the basis for transportation spending and policymaking, counting bicycles informs the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) about its progress toward making bicycling a fundamental part of life in Portland and gives feedback about the usefulness of its investments in bicycle infrastructure and city streets.
With the assistance of volunteers PBOT also conducts bicycle counts at over 125 locations throughout the city. The 2011 Bicycle Count Report documented a 6.4% citywide increase in bike trips over 2010.
Portland’s bike counter was the first of its kind in the United States. Since its installation, Seattle has installed a bike counter on its FremontBridge.
Hawthorne Bridge photo courtesy of Jonathan Maus, BikePortland.