Bike census

I get really frustrated when I hear people say “Oh, hardly any people ride bikes, so there’s no need for bike infrastructure.” Classic chicken-and-egg case: if it were easier and more comfortable to ride, it’s likely people would – which would have major implications in several community indices, notably public health.

But how to track where and when people ride bikes, and why? Q&A surveys, perhaps. There’s also the standard “stand on a street corner” traffic survey (it SO aggrieves me when these studies are done in the dead of winter & taken as a good indicator of demand for bike & ped facilities!)

In the absence of those types of censuses, there’s the totally unscientific “bikes I see when I happen to be out and about” variety. There’s got to be at least some value to that, right? Observing actual cyclist behavior at various locations at various times of day?

I’ve decided to record my observations here. Totally unscientific, and utterly depenent upon when and where I happen to be out, but why not?

Sunday, April 23, 2017, 13:00-14:00, Scottsbluff

Bike 1: man (carrying bags from shopping) eastbound on 33rd St, on sidewalk on south side. Turned south on Ave B to first business driveway, crossed to funeral home driveway and continued southbound through business parking lots.

Bike 2: man westbound on West Overland on sidewalk on north side. Crossed to west side of Ave B & waited for light. Proceeded southbound on Ave B sidewalk.

Bike 3: woman westbound on West Overland at Avenue B, in street.

Monday, April 23, 2017, 15:00-16:00, Scottsbluff

Bike 1: man northbound on Broadway on sidewalk on east side, turned eastbound onto street at East Overland.

Bike 2: man westbound on 14th Street west of 1st Avenue, walking bike with trailer in the street.

Saturday, April 29, 2017, 10:00-12:00, Scottsbluff

Bike 1: man northbound on Broadway at 17th in the street, rider wearing a backpack and smoking a cigarette

Bike 2: child southbound on east-side sidewalk of Broadway at 17th , accompanied by other young pedestrians and a stroller, then northbound again a few minutes later

Bikes 3-6: family group of parents and two children riding northbound on the east-side sidewalk of Broadway at 17th , mom smoking, dad with bag from a store

Bike 7: man northbound in the street at 17th, turned a circle in a parking space to talk to a pedestrian, then proceeded into turn lane and went west on 18th Street

Bikes 8-9: teen boys riding southbound on east-side Broadway sidewalk, crossed street diagonally at 17th and continued southbound on west-side sidewalk

Saturday, April 29, 2017, 17:00-18:00, Scottsbluff

Bike 1: man riding northbound on centerline of 4th Ave at 18th, turned west into library driveway

Bike 2: man wtih a backpack carrying shopping bags riding westbound on East Overland sidewalk south side at 4th Ave

Monday, May 1, 2017, 8:00-9:00, Scottsbluff

Bike 1: man eastbound on 20th street at 1st Ave on the sidewalk on the south side

Tuesday, May 2, 2017, 12:00-13:00, Scottsbluff

Bike 1: man southbound on Avenue B, on sidewalk on east side, turned east on north side sidewalk of 20th street – at Avenue A crossed street diagonally and continued eastbound in the street until reaching business driveway and getting on the south side sidewalk

Wednesday, May 3, 2017, 12:00-13:00, Scottsbluff

Bike 1: man southbound on Broadway east side sidewalk at 19th

Wednesday, May 3, 2017, 16:00-18:00, Scottsbluff

Bike 1: man southbound on Broadway east side sidewalk at 17th

Bike 2: man northbound on Broadway in street at 17th

Thursday, May 4, 2017,  Scottsbluff

Don’t remember all the details, but spotted 3 bikes in the downtown area, all being ridden on sidewalks – 2 men, not sure of the third cyclist.

I’m really thinking about this – if people do not feel comfortable riding in the street, is the best way to increase cycling and facilitate transportation to encourage sidewalk riding? Yet, there is potential for pedestrian conflict, and safety issues for people riding bikes on sidewalks when they cross streets and driveways.

This article has influenced my thinking quite a bit:

How Low-Income Cyclists Go Unnoticed


PS – I love the idea of changing the “punchbuggy” driving game, where VW beetles are noted, to a “punchbike” game, where people on bikes are noted. Get everyone’s “bikedar” revved up!


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