Guest Post: Cycle Counts February 2019

This blog post by Chris Morahan first appeared in Talking Transport:

I keep seeing comments in various social media circles that no one in Christchurch cycles. It’s always just anecdotal, but even then I don’t understand it. My own anecdotal data source – the bike-shed-O-meter – suggests cycling numbers are going through the roof.

Even the awkward top-level racks are full (apart from the broken ones) and people are resorting to parking bikes in the aisle

But the good news is we don’t actually have to rely on anecdotal evidence anymore. Christchurch now has a pretty good network of automatic cycle counters. The current counts are available at Smartview.

All count sites – 7 day totals

They also make the historic data available if you know how to do it. It’s quite complicated, but fortunately Joe has done some good work graphing a time series of some of these cycle counts.

You can see that some of the counters have had some malfunctions – for example “eco display towards Antigua” didn’t work through most of December.

I’ve downloaded the data from Joe’s site, tried my best to patch these broken periods, then added up all the sites together, converted to daily flows, and finally smoothed it a little (14-day rolling average). This gives the following total daily bicycle count for the city.

This graph shows that cycling numbers in Christchurch are the highest they’ve been in the last 6 months. Numbers rose with the onset of Spring in September, stayed high through to mid-December, then dropped off over the holiday season. Numbers have been climbing steadily through January to the highest they’ve been in this period.

I’m keen to see if it keeps climbing through February, or if it flattens out. Once we have a full 12 months data it will get really interesting as we’ll be able to take the seasonal aspect out of it. But even this 6 month graph shows some very healthy numbers, which only seem to be getting higher.

5 thoughts on “Guest Post: Cycle Counts February 2019”

  1. Really interested to see these figures – I cross Antigua Bridge and cycle through Sth Hagley twice daily and have definitely noticed an increase in the last few months since all the work around the hospital frontage finished.

    Depending on the time of morning there can be “bike jams” at the Antigua Bridge and roundabout, with multiple cyclists going in all directions – probably some more markings and lane indicators will be needed soon – but a good “problem” to have !

    1. I had that thought the other day too – my suspicion is yes they are being counted which is not an altogether bad thing. A scooter is using a lot of the same infrastructure and really does count as a “thing being ridden” even if its not exactly a bicycle.

      I’d bet the coutner also includes prams/pushchairs, mowers and vehicles that are attending to work in Hagley Park for concerts etc.

      Hopefully someone from the council who deals with these counting units can comment with authority.

      1. It should be noted that they can be set to also detect and count scooters; I understand that Auckland Transport has done this for a couple of their urban cycle counters. I would hope that they can still separate out the respective numbers of bikes vs scooters (a bit like counters classifying cars vs trucks).

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