There are plenty of good reasons to analyze data from automatic Eco-Counters: to assess long-term trends, to evaluate sensitivity to weather fluctuations and to measure the impact of special events on bicycle usage. In this post, we look at the data from Washington’s bike counters to analyze the effect the Metro closure had on bike traffic numbers.
Washington DC’s Metro service is the second busiest Metro in the United States, with about 38 percent of the workforce in Washington using public transit to get to work1. So, after transit managers announced an emergency 24-hour shutdown of the rail service for safety reasons, people had to come up with alternative ways to get to work. And when faced to choose, many opted for their bike instead of braving long lines for buses or crawling along busy streets by car. Spontaneous group rides organized under the hashtag #wmatabikepool.
The results? Bike trips soared on Wednesday in the Washington metropolitan area. Over 36 000 bicycles were counted during the Metrorail closure.
Washington Metropolitan Area Daily Bike Counts at 35 Counters – Since March 2nd 2016
This figure shows the total bikes counted at 35 automatic counters in the metropolitan area on a diversity of cycling facilities: 26 in Arlington, 6 in Alexandria and 3 in the District of Columbia. Bike counts are consistently highest on Wednesdays in the region, and despite the beautiful weather on Wed March 9th, almost 8 000 additional cyclists hit the roads and trails during the Metro closure this past Wednesday. On Thursday March 17th the metro reopened and counts returned to normal.
This out of the ordinary event shows the potential for growth of bicycle use in Washington. The spike in cyclists proves that investment in bike facilities has made the metropolitan Washington area more resilient to transportation disruptions. Counting allows us to show it!