THIS SUMMER BROUGHT OUT MORE BICYCLISTS
If you think you’re seeing more bicyclists out and about, you’re right. The Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) counted about 50 percent more bicyclists in Cuyahoga County this summer than four years ago.
NOACA counted the number of bicyclists in 17 Cuyahoga County locations in June, July and August and compared them to those counted at the same locations in summer 2006 to evaluate growth in ridership. The counts were taken on Tuesdays through Thursdays on days when there was little or no chance of rain.
Bicycle counts in Cuyahoga County jumped an average of 50 percent from 2006 to 2010, from 602 counted in 2006 during a four-hour period to 906 for the comparable four-hour period in 2010 at various locations. Bicycling in Cleveland went up 52 percent, from 366 bicyclists counted in 2006 to 558 during the comparable four-hour period in 2010. Among the largest jumps in Cleveland:
Other contributing reasons for the gains in the bike counts may be the downturn in the economy, the high price of gasoline, and bicycling as an alternative to or in conjunction with public transportation. Buses are now fitted with bike racks, and riders are permitted to take their bikes in HealthLine vehicles and rapid transit trains.
Although these numbers remain small when compared to the number of cars on the road, the increases are impressive over a period of four years. NOACA and many other groups in the county have been actively engaged in raising awareness about the benefits of the bike as transportation through events, training, and encouraging facilities, such as the future Cleveland bike station.
- The count at the intersection of Euclid Avenue and Chester Avenue in University Circle increased more than 90 percent (from 37 to 71), and the count at the intersection of East 40th Street and Euclid Avenue more than tripled since 2006 (from 22 to 76). Bike lanes were added to Euclid Avenue in October 2008 and are likely a key reason for the increase in ridership.
- Counts at West 25th Street and Detroit Avenue and at West 65th Street and Detroit Avenue were both up about 75 percent, from 101 to 178 and from 74 to129, respectively. No additional bicycle facilities were added at these locations since the 2006 counts.
“The two counts done on Euclid Avenue after the bike lanes were installed illustrate the effect that providing a bicycle lane can have on encouraging people to try cycling,” says Sally Hanley, a senior transportation planner at NOACA. “If people feel safer in a dedicated lane, then they are more likely to ride their bikes. This has been shown by studies conducted in other regions.”
“Whatever the reason, we are delighted that more people are using their bikes as a form of transportation rather than just for recreation,” says Howard R. Maier, NOACA executive director. “Not only does cycling offer more exercise and a healthier lifestyle, but it also helps reduce air pollution because they’re not driving.”
NOACA encourages communities to accommodate bicycles and pedestrians. NOACA’s Regional Bicycle Transportation Plan shows where bike lanes and other facilities can link residential areas with jobs, shopping, schools, etc., and provide links between communities. NOACA policy requires that communities consider bike and pedestrian facilities when planning for road and bridge construction and reconstruction projects. The Regional Bicycle Transportation Plan is available on NOACA’s website.