Posts Tagged ‘commuting’

Detroit: There are no accurate bike counts

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

How many people in Detroit bike? How has this changed over time?

They’re very popular questions. The truth is we don’t know. Nobody does.

And that same answer is true for most American cities – accurate bicycling data does not exist.

That hasn’t stopped some groups from pretending that it does.

If you read the recent Huffington Post article on Detroit, you may have seen this.

A 2012 report by the Alliance for Biking & Walking found the number of bicycle commuters in Detroit rose 258 percent over the last two decades.

Sounds good, right? The Alliance report says Detroit had 340 daily bicycle commuters in 1990 and 1,217 in 2009.

What the Alliance report fails to tell you are the margins of error, which really give you an idea how inaccurate these numbers are.

That 2009 number is 1,217 plus or minus 803. Yep, the Census says the actual 2009 number could be as low as 414, likely within the 1990 number’s margin of error.

Another thing to consider: The 2009 numbers are based on a Detroit population of over 900,000, which is off by couple hundred thousand people.

And while everyone acknowledges Detroit’s notable increase in cycling activity last year, the 2010 Census numbers show bicycle commuting dropped nearly in half to 651 plus or minus 424.

If this hasn’t convinced you these numbers are quite worthless, there’s more.

The Census numbers only includes those who are working and 16 years or older. The Census doesn’t count most people who combine modes (e.g. use the bus bike racks) or who bike only a couple times a week.

The Alliance for Biking and Walking were made aware of these Census discrepancies for Detroit, but for the most part they did not address them. That’s why Detroit chose not to participate in the most recent report.

Other cities

Other cities are making big strides in understanding bicycling trends and counts. They’re doing travel surveys and bicycle counts — both automatically and manually — at key bridges and intersections.

And in cities like New York, they’ve found their counts don’t match the Census numbers either.

Detroit’s done some bicycle counts around Woodward, in Southwest Detroit, and on the RiverWalk, but not enough to draw any major conclusions. It would great if some future bike lane projects (looking at you, E. Jefferson!) could get some automated counters.

Until then, there just aren’t any good answers.



Ferndale Complete Streets and Bicycle Commuting 101

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

Another exciting bicycling event in Ferndale:



Douglas Christie
Ferndale Environmental Sustainability Commission – Chair

Ferndale Complete Streets and Bicycle Commuting 101

Please join avid bicyclist and Ferndale City Council Member, Melanie Piana when she speaks about what the State & National Complete Streets Coalition is, and how the City of Ferndale is looking to become a leader in building roadways that move people not just automobiles. Plus Continental Bike Shop will be doing a “bicycle commuting 101” workshop…and afterwards feel free to join us on a mini bicycle commute around Ferndale!

The Ferndale Environmental Sustainability Commission’s Green Tuesday seminars are aimed at providing Ferndale residents with the information they need to become even better stewards of the environment. The seminars will be held the second Tuesday of the month at the Kulick Community Center in Ferndale (1201 Livernois St.) from 6:30pm-8:00pm. The seminars are FREE and open to the public (you need not be a Ferndale resident to attend).

WHAT: Ferndale Green Tuesday Seminar: Ferndale Complete Streets and Bicycle Commuting 101

WHO: Ferndale Environmental Sustainability Commission, Continental Bike Shop and guest speaker – Ferndale City Council Member Melanie Piana

WHEN: Tuesday, August 10th from 6:30pm-8:00pm + bicycle ride to immediately follow – a light and helmet is required

WHERE: Kulick Community Center, 1201 Livernois St., Ferndale, MI

Keep your sanity, commute by bike

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Reuters recently wrote about new research on the benefits of “green exercise.” Apparently just five minutes is all need, which is good news for bike commuters.

Researchers from the University of Essex found that as little as five minutes of a “green activity” such as walking, gardening, cycling or farming can boost mood and self esteem.

“We believe that there would be a large potential benefit to individuals, society and to the costs of the health service if all groups of people were to self-medicate more with green exercise,” Barton said in a statement about the study, which was published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Many studies have shown that outdoor exercise can reduce the risk of mental illness and improve a sense of well-being, but Jules Pretty and Jo Barton, who led this study, said that until now no one knew how much time needed to be spent on green exercise for the benefits to show.

And don’t forget to mark your calendars. Bike to Work day in Detroit is May 21st. You can start from Royal Oak, Grosse Pointe or Dearborn. All rides head to Campus Maritius.

Detroit’s bad commute: Not all hooey

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Forbes loves publishing lists of dubious quality that are often based on census data. However, they recently named Metro Detroit as having the second worst commute in the U.S., which might be justifiable.

There are a few elements that easy-commuting cities have in common. In those places, more workers take advantage of public transportation, walk or bike; sprawl is minimal so workers tend to live closer to their offices; and the incidence of travel delays is low. To find the best and worst cities for commuters, we took the 60 largest metro areas and ranked each on three measures: The length of traffic delays at rush hour, the percentage of commuters who get to work by carpooling, biking, walking or taking public transportation (the “Green Commuter” rank); and the percentage of commuters that spend an hour or more getting to work. Click here for more details on the methodology.

Where Detroit scored most poorly was in the Green Commuting rank — we were last.

Then there’s Detroit. The city that comes in next to last was once at the forefront of transportation planning–the first urban freeways were built there. But its well-documented urban blight and population drain have wreaked havoc on the city’s infrastructure, and the once ubiquitous presence of the auto industry decimated what was a thriving public transportation system. Now, what would normally be a 45-minute drive takes an hour at peak times, and only 12% of commuters carpool, walk, bike or use public transportation–the lowest percentage of all the cities we tracked.

Detroit New’s columnist Tom Greenwood takes exception and makes the same mistake that transportation planners have made in Detroit for the past 50 years. They assume the word “commuting” means “driving.”

He adds, “I’ve driven in all those other cities, and I would rather have a tooth pulled than commute in any other big city compared to Detroit.”

It’s time to try that commute on a bike or by bus, Tom.?Detroit commuting looks a little different outside of the car.

Biking to Work in Toronto

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Here’s an interesting blog out of Toronto called Urban Country that we stumbled on via a Howard Meyerson Tweet.

The blog article in particular is about biking to work:

Here in Toronto, the City has been handing out awards to bicycle-friendly businesses since 2001. The 2009 Bicycle-Friendly Business Awards will take place on January 19th, 2010 at the Gladstone Hotel and we will find out who this year’s most bicycle-friendly businesses are.

The consulting company that employs me imason inc. is an example of a bicycle-friendly workplace, and I felt compelled to highlight my workplace in the promo video above.?imason allows employees to bring their bicycles directly into the 8th floor office, storing them at the back of the office, while also providing shower facilities for those who feel compelled to shower after cycling in to work.

Do you work for a bicycle friendly employer?