History of Fort Hill, Part 2 (2008). Mural by: Loray McDuffie, Taylor Saintable, Edwin Perez-Clancy, Christine O'Connell, Julia Andreasson, Jorge Benitez, Divah Payne, Lucy Saintcyr, Laua Dedonato, Gregg Bernstein.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Rush Hour Bicycle Census at Columbus & Cedar

1885 Ordinary, with the small wheel in front.  From Patent Pending Blog.
We performed another bicycle census at the intersection of Columbus Avenue and Cedar Street this past Thursday, 23 September 2010 between 5 and 6 pm.  The temperature was in the high 60s, the wind was calm, and the skies were clear.  We posted ourselves on the outbound side of Columbus Avenue just north of Cedar Street.

Our previous census was done on 3 June 2010 from 5:18 to 5:40 pm. We counted on our fingers while waiting for a #22 bus to show up.  We counted 103 bicyclists. This was done over a 22-1/2 minute period, yielding an hourly rate of 275 bicycles/hour.

This time, equipped with paper and pencil, we performed a more deliberate census making tallies for each five-minute interval between 5 and 6 pm.  For both the inbound and outbound directions we counted helmeted and unhelmeted bicyclists, walkers, and runners.

Surprising to us, the hourly rate was  213, a 22% drop from the 3 June count.  Put another way, in the 25 minute interval between 5:15 and 5:40—approximately the same time period of the June count—there were only 95 bicycles compared with 103 in 22-1/2 minutes.

One oughtn't generalize from only two counts, but we would have thought that with the students back in town there would have been more bicyclists, not fewer.

Here is a summary of the results for bicycles:


And for Pedestrians:


The split between helmeted and unhelmeted bicyclists was 70:30, far different to my guesstimate on 3 June of 95:5.  The split between outbound and inbound bicycle traffic was 81:19, remarkably close to my guesstimate in June.

Another observation is that the unhelmeted inbound riders—going against the homeward commute—exceeded the number of helmeted riders, while outbound the helmeted riders outnumbered the unhelmeted ones by a greater than a 3-to-1 margin.

There was one recumbent bicycle (outbound) and one bicycle rigged for freight (inbound) with an extended frame in the rear.  There were two outbound scooters not included in the count.  The were only two bicyclists traveling in Columbus Avenue proper; they were both inbound and were included in the count.

Bell Biker Bicycle Helmet.  Photo by Melissa Lew from America On the Move.


  1. Speaking just for myself, I stop biking to work when the school year begins. The available time between school drop off and needing to be at work is less than the time between summer camp drop off and work arrival, leaving me without a biking option. On June 3, you would have counted me, but on September 23, I was on the train.

    There are likely some other folks in the same situation. Also, I suspect the cooler whether in late Summer/early Fall leads to some additional drop off. Did you extrapolate the 95, or was that the actual count for the overlapping time period?

    I've really enjoyed both posts you've done on this subject, and I'm excited to know that something in the neighborhood of 4 bicycles a minute pass through this route.

  2. Hank, Thanks for the comment. The 95 bikes over 25 minutes was the actual count. It probably should have been discounted somehow, because our June count spanned only 22-1/2 minutes, but it seemed easier to present the raw number.

    We could have discounted like this: 22.5/25 * 95 yields 86 bikes. Or, we could have divided the count from the 5:15-5:20 slot (24 bikes) by 2 to yield a count of 83 bikes.

    Our intention is to make another count in roughly three-month's time.