Counting to Two

Master Bike Plan gathers its ammunition.


If you wondered, during your morning commute, who were those guys with clipboards planted at some 30 key intersections around the city today, they had nothing to do with the Department of Homeland Security or some disaster drill. Big Brother was not watching you, only counting you. Seattle Department of Transportation workers joined with volunteers from the Cascade Bicycle Club to quantify the number of cyclists entering the downtown core during the morning rush, the first such tally in seven years. Back in 2000, after a similar eight-year gap, the number was 1,737--up 57 percent from 1992. According to David Hiller, advocacy director of the CBC, the number of cycle commuters was about 1.9 percent of the total commuter base in 2000. (The U.S. census that year agreed with that estimate.) He's hoping the new figures, when crunched and posted on the SDOT Web site in a few weeks, will amount to more like 2.3 percent this year. If that sound arcane and wonky--how many cyclists can ride on the head of a pin?--the data are important says Hiller. "That's our new baseline," he declares, meaning that as the all-powerful Bicycle Master Plan and Complete Streets initiative are implemented, such data will dictate where bike lanes are painted and those weird little "sharrows" are added to bike-car convergence zones. (There's money to be spent, and spend it we must.) Everyone at SDOT and CBC has said, anecdotally, that the number of cycle commuters went way up during this summer's I-5 repaving south of downtown. And this morning fortuitously proved to be a dry, if cool, autumn opportunity to pedal to work. If it had been raining, more would've opted to drive or take the bus, and the numbers might've been flat. How much they increased, and how the data will drive the Master Plan, we'll leave to a future story.

comments powered by Disqus