Chart of the Day: Saint Paul Bike Traffic Before and After Bike Lanes

“There aren’t enough bikes here to justify a bike lane…”

I hear some variation of that line with almost every bike project, no matter where it’s located. Especially for people that rarely ride bicycles, it can be a pretty convincing argument!

But it’s not that simple. Bicycling is deeply connected to street design, and (as Kevin Costner’s ghost father once said) “if you build it, they will come.”

The latest Saint Paul bike/ped traffic counts are out this week, and (via the Saint Paul Bicycle Coalition’s twitter) biking and walking are at a five-year high. And that goes more-than-double for streets with new bike lanes.

Check out the before-and-after counts for the city’s new bike projects:

Of particular note are the big increases on the new Cleveland Avenue bike lane. Diligent readers of this website might recall that the Cleveland lane was a bit controversial, and there was much wringing of hands about whether the lane would be safe or well-trafficked.

Well, the new lane turns out to be popular, and (in my opinion) bike traffic there will only grow as more people discover and experience it.

The report has this to say about the count changes at these locations:

To measure changes in bicycle traffic following the implementation of bicycle facilities, five screenlines were counted before and after the implementation of new bicycle lanes in 2015 and 2016. The counts reflect observed 4 PM – 6 PM peak hour bicycle traffic. The screenlines on Cleveland Avenue, Como Avenue, and Front Avenue were counted multiple times. All locations recorded an increase in bicycle traffic following the installation of bike lanes. Public Works will continue to collect bicycle and pedestrian traffic data at these locations to monitor changes over time, and will explore additional data collection methods to extend the duration of future count periods.

That’s a very city-engineer-speak way of saying that, if you build it, they will come. It’s nice to have data that confirms one’s vague hopes and intuition.

Check out the rest of the bike count report here.

Bill Lindeke

About Bill Lindeke

Pronouns: he/him

Bill Lindeke has writing blogging about sidewalks and cities since 2005, ever since he read Jane Jacobs. He is a lecturer in Urban Studies at the University of Minnesota Geography Department, the Cityscape columnist at Minnpost, and has written multiple books on local urban history. He was born in Minneapolis, but has spent most of his time in St Paul. Check out Twitter @BillLindeke or on Facebook.