Here’s a message for Albany County and the City of Albany – 12,000 bicycle riders can’t be wrong.
In closing out its third season, CDPHP Cycle! BikeShare confirmed 41,578 rides (and 12,000 members) in the 4-city service area. The BikeShare program has a treasure drove of data telling where people picked up a bicycle, where they went, what route they took, where they made intermediate stops, what they had for breakfast, and how fast they rode. These riders (generally) are NEITHER day-to-day commuters riding their own bicycles NOR people in $200-300 riding “kit” on high-end bicycles. In addition, the BikeShare season is only 8 months long. BikeShare riders also (again, in general) have made a commitment (by registering as a seasonal members) to using the service – they are not all one-time, one-day tourists.
In addition to these clear data, Albany Bicycle Coalition staff has provided cycling data from Strava as evidence that (for example) New Scotland Ave. is heavily used by cyclists. Strava* compiles monthly heat maps with trip data from cyclists. Municipalities are increasingly using Strava data for planning purposes. Yes, riders who use Strava would tend to be “serious” and committed cyclists but the data are a good proxy for all riders especially (as in the case of New Scotland Ave.) there is only one direct route available.
Therefore, we have data that goes beyond the anecdotal. Hard numbers. Not what someone “thinks” or “was told,” or “heard.” One would be ill advised to discount these data as being about “those bicycle people.”
What’s the message?
If you do not subscribe to the theory “if you build it, they will come,” you might entertain the actuality that people demonstrably want to use bicycles to get “from here to there.” Environment, health, expense, no choice, preference, advocacy – who knows the motivation? The reality still is that there are people on bicycles “out there” who, given similar economic/socio backgrounds pay MORE for road construction and maintenance then their less enlightened petrovehicle colleagues and who want and need safe, direct, connected bicycle facilities.
CDTA CDPHP Cycle! BikeShare has more data (“heat maps”). If you are in government or are an advocate for safe roads and healthy commuting, you might use these data to support your case. Contact – – LindseyG@cdta.org
*Strava is a social fitness network primarily to track cycling and running exercises using GPS data. Strava offers a free service with no advertising in its mobile application, and a monthly subscription plan called Strava Summit. See – https://www.strava.com/about