Kaiser Permanente is proud to report on the results of the Colorado Active Transportation Mile Markers Project . Measuring Active Transportation: Recommendations for Colorado documents a research and outreach project intended to identify a set of robust, consensus indicators for measuring Active Transportation in Colorado. The report includes an inventory of best practices in Active Transportation measurement and the criteria by which a set of preferred indicators was generated. The resulting eight preferred indicators create the Active Transportation (AT) Mile Markers, which will help public and private agencies throughout Colorado partner in their efforts to monitor progress in Active Transportation. This information was presented in a webinar on April 19, 2012 and the report is available here.
One of the best scenes from the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life” is when George is flirting with Mary after the dance:
(Mary Hatch Bailey): I’ll take it! Then what?
(George): Well, then you can swallow it, and it’ll all dissolve see, and the moonbeams would shoot out of your fingers and your toes and the ends of your hair… am I talking too much?
(George): You want me to kiss her, huh?
(Man on Porch): Ah, youth is wasted on the wrong people!
(Clarence): One man’s life touches so many others, when he’s not there it leaves an awfully big hole.
A new report released by the CoPIRG Foundation demonstrates that Coloradans and Americans have been driving less since the middle of last decade. The report, Transportation and the New Generation: Why Young People are Driving Less and What it Means for Transportation Policy, shows that young people in particular are decreasing the amount they drive and increasing their use of transportation alternatives
The authors appear to rightfully “taking down” the tried and true gravity model based on, among other things:
With the bicycle arms race underway (which is a good thing because peer pressure always helps communities do more), it’s really hard to know who is winning. If you read the blurbs, every city claims to be winning because every city is seeing gains in their bicycle counts. But how consistent are the counting approaches? How robust are the counting approaches? Even with consistent and robust approaches, how does one account for geographic or climate variations. Does a high bike count in Minneapolis during a sunny and 70 degree day ensure the same in mid January? Probably not.
What is the best way to compare cities with high counts in the summer, and low counts in the winter to cities with balmy weather all year round? One way, borrowed from the motorized traffic world, is to calculate an average daily count for the whole year (aka AADT). The National Bike and Pedestrian Documentation Project has done just that, offering factors to annualize your hourly bike and pedestrian counts. While this was a notable step forward 4 years ago, it’s far from definitive.
First, the idea that we can create one set of factors for the entire country leads to major inaccuracies. Clearly, cultural, climate and terrain vary from city to city, which impact riding habits. Furthermore, it may lull cities into thinking they don’t need their own continuous automated counts at all since it’s being done at the national level.
Second, annualizing counts based on a one or two hour count inherently lead to more inaccuracies. There’s a reason traffic engineers abandoned the practice decades ago. Even with relatively stable traffic counts, one or two hour counts leads to wildly varying estimates. Basing estimates of annual average daily bicyclists (AADB) on one hour counts can be off by as much as six times actual AADB!
Here’s the good news! Cities around the country are installing their own automated bicycle and pedestrian counters that capture traffic 365-24-7. Permanent automated counts sites provide cities the data they need to create their own, city specific annualization factors. And, portable automated counters can count for a week at a time at various locations around the city giving a much better estimate of volumes at the location than an army of well meaning volunteers.
The time has come for the bicycle community to realize what motor traffic engineers have known for decades. Too small a sample size (e.g., a 2 hour bike count) can be WORSE than nothing. Let’s put those well-meaning volunteers to work doing something more meaningful, like moving, protecting, and maintaining our automated bike counters. Only then can we robustly compare bike counts on the Midtown Greenway in Minneapolis to those on the Lance Armstrong Bikeway in Austin.
But here is an outstanding question from my Yellowstone study tour–a question that my colleagues I could not fully resolve. What “rules of the road” are in effect? The National Park Service owns their roads and polices them with their own forces. This suggests that the roads are not under typical statutory guidelines. The park is technically open, but the roads are closed to vehicular traffic. This suggests there might be some seasonality issues to any rules that are adopted? But, possibly the traditional “rules of the road” (as defined by the National Park Service) are still in effect? The reason I ask is that on a blissful 60 degree Sunday, a day when we saw–at most, 10 people over our 50 mile journey–the Park Ranger reminded us of the importance of riding single file and staying to the right.
|Out for a Spin – Ryan Wiese|
Boulder’s (CO) obsesssion with bicycling endures. In the same way that dog owners are not owners–rather, they are guardians (because dogs have feelings, mental capability, etc)–Boulder city council passed an ordinance changing the term “bicycle owner” in the city’s code to “bicycle guardian.”
Clearly, this is progress.