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A Falloff in Bike Commuting? - USA Today

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A Falloff in Bike Commuting? - USA Today

Old 01-07-19, 03:45 PM
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I was thinking about this article over the weekend as I biked to a race (not commuting, but still bike for transport) - I'm one less bike commuter since I work a home office. I didn't see the article address what appears to be a growing trend of people working from home. IMHO the bike-commuter is the kinda person that values a work-from-home arrangement more than the average person and that will reduce the number of bike-commuters.

Also, it appears they are using the same survey methodology for year-over-year comparison. However, with bike commuters being a small number of commuters, a small shift in the survey base can result in a large shift in the bike-commuter numbers. I honestly think it's a weak methodology. We need to combine a variety of methodologies to get more accurate results (i.e. Strava & other sports tracking apps, human & automated counters on busy bike routes, along with the surveys).
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Old 01-07-19, 04:45 PM
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One could probably get significantly different numbers if one conducted the survey in say mid December or perhaps July.

January might get a bump in people with New Years resolutions... until they realize that riding in the cold and rain is miserable.

One thing I've noticed recently is a lot of utility cyclists. Most seem to be riding on a shoestring budget, but not all of them. I passed a guy the other day returning from the local building supply store with a cart full of 2x4's.

Of course, perhaps I'm more sensitive to utility cyclists than ever before... and somewhat less discriminatory.

I have noticed a few electronic sensors embedded in local bike paths. Hopefully the city is actually collecting long term data from them. Of course, use of paths can vary, but some paths do tend to be bottleneck funnels and excellent routes for certain commutes.
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Old 01-07-19, 05:03 PM
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Ummmmm...it's snowing and stuff.


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Old 01-07-19, 07:37 PM
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I wish I can say I still bike commute but I can't. I'm retired but I still bike almost everyday although it's no longer to work.

Is that the reason why some surveys in some locales indicate a drop in bike commuting? Because the baby boomers are retiring and the bike commuters amongst them too?
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Old 01-08-19, 08:48 AM
  #55  
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
I have noticed a few electronic sensors embedded in local bike paths. Hopefully the city is actually collecting long term data from them. Of course, use of paths can vary, but some paths do tend to be bottleneck funnels and excellent routes for certain commutes.
Dero's Zap is popular in Minneapolis, in part, since it's a local company:

(great video highlighting Minneapolis' best-in-class bike infrastructure)

My daughter's employer uses Zap to track bike-commuting and offers her wellness credits. Funny riding together, we hear that beep sound all over town ... but she only gets one credit per work day.

Also, I'm finding in Minneapolis, as bike infrastructure gets better and more routes are available, there's less traffic funneled into a limited number of bike routes. Looking at Strava's heat maps over the years, it's becoming a more complex spider's web, making counting at specific locations less insightful.
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Old 01-08-19, 10:20 AM
  #56  
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
One could probably get significantly different numbers if one conducted the survey in say mid December or perhaps July.
...
I have noticed a few electronic sensors embedded in local bike paths. Hopefully the city is actually collecting long term data from them. Of course, use of paths can vary, but some paths do tend to be bottleneck funnels and excellent routes for certain commutes.
I wondered about the seasonal bit, seeing as how the article came out at the start of (northern hemisphere) winter.

And on the other extreme of bike paths, our latest one goes under the interstate and dead-ends. Perhaps not surprisingly, I don't know anyone who uses that path regularly. I'm afraid we've got politicians chasing after LAB awards -- we put a bike path in last year! -- and not paying attention to the needs of, you know, people who ride bikes regularly.
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Old 01-08-19, 10:57 AM
  #57  
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Originally Posted by Hypno Toad View Post
Dero's Zap is popular in Minneapolis, in part, since it's a local company:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcqBJf7pH2c
(great video highlighting Minneapolis' best-in-class bike infrastructure)

My daughter's employer uses Zap to track bike-commuting and offers her wellness credits. Funny riding together, we hear that beep sound all over town ... but she only gets one credit per work day.

Also, I'm finding in Minneapolis, as bike infrastructure gets better and more routes are available, there's less traffic funneled into a limited number of bike routes. Looking at Strava's heat maps over the years, it's becoming a more complex spider's web, making counting at specific locations less insightful.
Interesting concept. I haven't been "zapped"

What I noticed was a series of diamonds cut in the paving of the bike paths, which I assume are attached to induction sensors, but I'm not quite sure where the circuits go. They didn't seem to be associated with traffic lights.

I haven't watched heat maps evolve beyond my own impact to local HEAT. Perhaps that would be interesting. My own commuting has changed, in part due to looking at local "bike maps", and realizing the benefits of incorporating local low volume neighborhood streets without bike paths.

On a day to day basis, I also challenge myself to find a different route for my return trip from my outbound trip, so I end up with lots of loops.

I don't always hit a MUP, but there are certain destinations that it would be suicide not to hop on the MUP. Even if the MUP generally fans out to multiple possible routes, there are a few bottlenecks that would tend to capture me (or one could add sensors at multiple parallel locations).
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Old 01-08-19, 11:06 AM
  #58  
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
And on the other extreme of bike paths, our latest one goes under the interstate and dead-ends. Perhaps not surprisingly, I don't know anyone who uses that path regularly. I'm afraid we've got politicians chasing after LAB awards -- we put a bike path in last year! -- and not paying attention to the needs of, you know, people who ride bikes regularly.
In the mid 1990's, there was a bike path in Portland which ended on a hillside overlooking McLoughlin Blvd. The street was cut below grade. And, there was no easy way to get up or down to street level, and about a mile back before one could connect to anything other than that dead-end.

Ten years later, the city has built a bicycle bridge over McLoughlin Blvd, and improved connections along the path. It has become a very well used path.

It may just take time before the ultimate design becomes obvious. Or, perhaps the idea that if they build it, then the people will come.
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Old 01-08-19, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by JoeyBike View Post
Yeah, no doubt. But when the bike gets delivered and needs assembly, then something is defective from the manufacturer, then what? Especially cheaper bikes, they don't leave the manufacturer perfectly adjusted, or even perfect and READY to be assembled in many cases. I could write up a list of common defects, or at least rough edges on new bikes that the consumer is not equipped to address. A bad experience and the bike goes on eBay leaving one more person alienated to bicycles.
I'm with you on that. It's pretty much a recipe for disaster. Not to get too philosophical again, but most people can't learn a lesson unless it's the "hard way."
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Old 01-08-19, 03:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Daniel4 View Post
I wish I can say I still bike commute but I can't. I'm retired but I still bike almost everyday although it's no longer to work.

Is that the reason why some surveys in some locales indicate a drop in bike commuting? Because the baby boomers are retiring and the bike commuters amongst them too?
Yep. I posted a graph around this thread somewhere showing this issue clearly. Post 16.

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Old 01-08-19, 03:57 PM
  #61  
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Tldr; but anecdotally, it seems that the cities that had the biggest decrease in percentage (literally: "per hundred") in cycling for commuting purposes were the cities with the biggest population growth. The greater Seattle region had ~300,000 new residents last year. It's hard to imagine an out of work family from Arkansas prioritizing room for bicycles they probably don't even own in the back of a U-haul truck for the journey. As a native, I've lost count of the pick-up trucks (farm vehicles, really) and cars with out of state plates crowding Seattles roads coming from states where there is no cycling culture & driving a half-hour or more one-way to the local Wal-mart is considered normal. Couple that with general unfamiliarity with the area, generally poor public transport, public transports general reputation as being for the low class with no other options and not counting every mode of an intermodal trip...It's not hard to see why the numbers appear to have gone down.

My gut feeling is new population not bringing their bikes with them, & weather notwithstanding, total trips by established residents have gone up over the years, it's the counting that's lagging. We need population adjusted and intermodal adjusted and non-commuting adjusted numbers. I see no less than 5 cyclists out & about every single time I get in the car for anything. This used to not be the case...Something must be amiss in the data capture.

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Old 01-10-19, 01:45 PM
  #62  
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Overthinking this, it was a fad and the fad's passed. Now those who thought they were cool to bike commute realize they're not and have moved on to something else like long bushy beards or vaping.
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Old 01-10-19, 02:43 PM
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Originally Posted by arsprod View Post
Overthinking this, it was a fad and the fad's passed. Now those who thought they were cool to bike commute realize they're not and have moved on to something else like long bushy beards or vaping.
Or the young folks took selfies of themselves commuting one day, posted on social media, and look at that post now and then. While vaping.
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Old 01-10-19, 03:19 PM
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Only 3 miles? Dude, just walk. It's fun too and you won't be sweaty or have grease on your pants :-)

Actually if my commute was only 3 miles I would not even consider biking. Not enough time to get the exercise I want every day. I would walk.

Originally Posted by bigbenaugust View Post
I won't lie, I got run over by a scooter in October and spent some time seriously considering my life choices.
In the end, I still only live 3mi from work, the bus schedule still kinda stinks, and I still won't pay for parking at the office, and we still have only one car. So back on the bike I went, but with less errands and side-trips and even more paranoia than before.
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Old 01-10-19, 03:24 PM
  #65  
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
Only 3 miles? Dude, just walk. It's fun too and you won't be sweaty or have grease on your pants :-)

Actually if my commute was only 3 miles I would not even consider biking. Not enough time to get the exercise I want every day. I would walk.
20 minutes on the bike v. almost an hour walking? And in NC half the year, you get sweaty either way.
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Old 01-10-19, 03:26 PM
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umm yeah, I live in Maine. I haven't considered the weather south from me. :-) good point.
Originally Posted by bigbenaugust View Post
20 minutes on the bike v. almost an hour walking? And in NC half the year, you get sweaty either way.
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Old 01-10-19, 03:27 PM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
umm yeah, I live in Maine. I haven't considered the weather south from me. :-) good point.
Come visit in July.
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Old 01-10-19, 03:31 PM
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I grew up in Maine and wouldn't walk 3 miles in the summer. I would cycle 3 miles.

I commute 3 miles now round trip and live closer to the ocean than I did in Maine, which is hard to do in Europe, as everyone in Maine lives near the sea.
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Old 01-10-19, 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by JoeyBike View Post
Or the young folks took selfies of themselves commuting one day, posted on social media, and look at that post now and then. While vaping.
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Old 01-10-19, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
Only 3 miles? Dude, just walk. It's fun too and you won't be sweaty or have grease on your pants :-)

Actually if my commute was only 3 miles I would not even consider biking. Not enough time to get the exercise I want every day. I would walk.
My comute is down to a little over 2 mles now and that's 35 minutes of walking or 10 minutes of riding plus the clothes changes on either end. It's a toss up some days as to which it better, and I still feel like I'm just getting warmed up when I'm almost there when I ride.
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Old 01-10-19, 04:54 PM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
Only 3 miles? Dude, just walk. It's fun too and you won't be sweaty or have grease on your pants :-)

Actually if my commute was only 3 miles I would not even consider biking. Not enough time to get the exercise I want every day. I would walk.
Originally Posted by bigbenaugust View Post
20 minutes on the bike v. almost an hour walking? And in NC half the year, you get sweaty either way.
I have friends in MN with commutes that are about this distance, they dress in office casual clothes, ride a city bike, and keep it easy pace. Come to think of it, that's what I do in Chicago, I typically have a hotel in downtown and use a Divvy bike to get to McCormick Place. It's roughly 3 miles riding in my suit to get to/from trade shows. Faster than walking, cabs, buses, etc
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Old 01-10-19, 05:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Hypno Toad View Post
I have friends in MN with commutes that are about this distance, they dress in office casual clothes, ride a city bike, and keep it easy pace. Come to think of it, that's what I do in Chicago, I typically have a hotel in downtown and use a Divvy bike to get to McCormick Place. It's roughly 3 miles riding in my suit to get to/from trade shows. Faster than walking, cabs, buses, etc
that is all of Europe.
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Old 01-10-19, 06:14 PM
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Originally Posted by acidfast7 View Post
that is all of Europe.
That's true! I love traveling in Europe... I'm going to Hannover in a couple months, hope to have time to take a ride.
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Old 01-10-19, 08:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Hypno Toad View Post
I have friends in MN with commutes that are about this distance, they dress in office casual clothes, ride a city bike, and keep it easy pace. Come to think of it, that's what I do in Chicago, I typically have a hotel in downtown and use a Divvy bike to get to McCormick Place. It's roughly 3 miles riding in my suit to get to/from trade shows. Faster than walking, cabs, buses, etc
My preference -- especially in the Southern summer -- is to go fast and change at the office. Other than chasing the kids and the occasional lunch ride, it's the only workout I get all week.

But I did do the "bikeshare and work clothes" thing at a conference in DC in '17. Enjoyed it immensely.
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Old 01-11-19, 07:30 AM
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I admit the summer in the South is a different (sweaty) beast
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