20% Of Traffic On Portland’s Hawthorne Bridge Is From Bikes

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For those of you who bike regularly and wonder why many city bridges don’t have bike lanes, well, it looks like now you’ve got some good talking points and statistics to use to push for their installation. You can thank the electronic bike counter at the Hawthorne Bridge in Portland. The bridge just recorded its two millionth bike trip since the counter was installed just last August.

Those are impressive numbers alone, and could definitely be used to make a good case for the inclusion of bike access infrastructure on many other city bridges. But there are more fun and useful numbers to share. For example, since installation, the bridge has averaged about 5,600 round trips a day on weekdays — with the numbers skewing considerably in both directions of that depending on the weather.

Image Credit: Bridge via Flickr CC
Image Credit: Bridge via Flickr CC

Bike Portland provides much more info:

For comparison, there’s an estimated 22,000 cars crossing the bridge on an average weekday — which means bicycle traffic accounts for about 20% of the bridge’s total vehicle traffic.

Thanks to the web interface that keeps a running tally of the data collected by the counter, we can dive into trip statistics on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. So far, the highest recorded day was June 8th of this year with 9,834 bicycle trips.

These numbers validate what we’ve known for years: The Hawthorne Bridge is a key artery in our road network and Portland is much better off because so many of the vehicles it carries happen to be bicycles. As we shared back in 2010, since 1991 Portland has increased the amount of people who travel to and from the central city via the Hawthorne Bridge by 20%; and because that increase in total vehicle traffic has been almost entirely bicycles, we have reaped major benefits. If the motor vehicle trips had increased at the same rate, we would have widespread congestion, more toxic pollution in our air, and we would have a more urgent need to make costly investments into the bridge and adjacent roads and ramps.

Those are some great talking points, especially when combined with the numbers provided by the electronic counter. Hopefully the great success of the Hawthorne Bridge with regard to bike use will spur positive bike developments elsewhere in the country. Though not every part of the country has the strong bike culture that Portland does, there are no doubt some serious benefits to be had from courting increased bike use, as the numbers above show.

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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