Report Indicates Drop in Portland Bicycling

Figures from a new report indicate that cycling is on the decline in Portland, widely considered America's top biking city.

"That preliminary report, the 2009 "Portland Bicycle Counts," shows the number of bicycle trips across Portland bridges (and at more than 100 other locations citywide) has fallen a combined average of 6 percent compared with the same time period in 2008.

Last year, Portlanders made 16,700 daily trips by bike over the Hawthorne, Burnside, Steel and Broadway bridges. This year? Almost 1,000 fewer, WW has learned.

The drop comes at an inopportune time for city officials, who are just now launching their most ambitious plan yet to upgrade the city's bicycle infrastructure to meet what they say is strong demand."

The city is currently working on a citywide bicycle master plan for the next two decades aiming to increase the amount of trips made by bicycle.

Full Story: Backpedaling



This isn't surprising..

This isn't surprising.. transit ridership (except for the new line that opened in September) has declined over the same period by similar amounts and traffic counts have also declined. The vast majority of counting locations surround downtown to capture bicyclists commuting from work. This is because the chokepoint for counting cyclists is on the bridges entering downtown. Why go downtown if you don't work there? Sure, there are a couple colleges/universities downtown and some bars, but the majority of bicyclists entering downtown are going to work. The bottom line is our unemployment rate is one of the highest in the nation. This isn't a reflection of cycling hitting a plateau or losing favor among the population.

The article mentions that transit ridership is up over last year, but it fails to mention that all those gains are the result of the light rail line that just opened in September. This is typical shoddy reporting of a quasi-"news" magazine that mostly regurgitates stories from the Oregonian newspaper, but with a young, liberal twist.

and vehicle counts?

The article notes a decline, smaller in percentage, for transit. It also notes there has been an increase in unemployment, which might decrease the total volume of trips. Then it notes changes in gasoline prices and begins speculating.

Without comparing the changes in auto volumes, it is hard to draw any meaningful conclusions about this moderate decline in bicycle usage.

Cherry-picking, and other abuses of Statistics without Context

Hmm - It would appear that transit and bicycle use in Portland is holding up better than general automotive vehicular use, in these Recessionary Times.

Lessee, the article indicates bicycling is down ~6 percent, and transit is down ~3 percent, but vehicles -- oops, that data is MIA....

Well, lookee here:

"Kirkland, Wash.-based Inrix, which provides traffic information to various customers such as MapQuest and Microsoft Corp., ranked the nation’s most 100 congested cities, and determined that there was a 36 percent decrease in traffic congestion last year in the Portland area, compared with 2007....

“While we all should cheer the reduction in congestion in 2008, we should be under no illusion that this is permanent,” said Rick Schuman, vice president of public sector at Inrix, in a statement."


Big Daddy: What's that smell in this room? Didn't you notice it, Brick? Didn't you notice the powerful and obnoxious odor of mendacity in this room?

just be careful...

There is a difference between traffic volumes and traffic congestion. Be careful not to confuse a "36 percent decrease in traffic congestion" with a 36% decline in traffic volumes.

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