February is bike month and often the busiest month time of the year for people riding bikes. As such it’s a good time to look at the numbers to see how we’re progressing. Are the bike lanes empty, like Mike Hosking and some of his friends often like to claim or are they being used?
Auckland Transport now has 43 sites across Auckland where automatic counters have installed and that they publish the results of monthly – mostly in and around the city centre. They have published the data up to the end of January this year.
The counters are showing good growth and of the 31 for which we have at least 2 years of data, they are showing a 6% increase on a 12-month rolling basis. As you can see from the graph below, we’ve been seeing good growth, of generally over 5% for some years now. Note: AT calculate the increase differently, only looking at the results of 26 sites.
What’s notable about that is for some time now we’ve been seeing more rain in Auckland than normal, for example NIWA data suggests that over the last year we’ve had just under 1,400mm of rain. That’s around 24% more than normal. In saying that, rainfall seems to have more impact on the monthly numbers, for example using a similar method to above, we can see that numbers were down by 6.4% in December which is perhaps unsurprising given we had 224mm of rain, 260% of normal.
The graph below gives an idea of how each counter is performing. The empty ones are because we don’t have enough data yet for the comparison. As you can see, most routes have shown an increase with the biggest decrease being the Mangere Bridge. While some of the decrease may be because of the closure of the old bridge the diversion to the one attached to the motorway, numbers had been trending down at this location before that.
I’m not going to go into detail on every counter but here are a few of the ones from above.
This is of course the site of the famous picture of Mike Hosking above. Well anyone who’s been down that way recently will know it’s humming with bikes at peak times and it’s not not unusual to see cyclists queuing up at the lights. That is being reflected in the numbers with the counter registering 20k trips in January, up a whooping 54% on January last year.
I wonder if this a flow on effect from the opening of the Ian McKinnon Dr cycleway in December? Speaking of which….
The Northwestern has two counters, one at Kingsland and the other at Te Atatu. The Kingsland counter our ‘old faithful’ of bike growth and has been showing good growth almost every month since the counters started at the end of 2010. You can see this quite clearly in the 12 month rolling numbers with usage having risen from just over 108k trips annually to 323k. and there are only two months where the rolling year on year growth has been less than 10%
Further out, the cycleway numbers really took off after the motorway works finished.
Quay St has been a hive of activity with the downtown works underway and having narrowed the street – but retaining a separated cycleway for as much of the route as possible. A temporary counter has been in place after the original one was impacted by the works and AT say it and Nelson St have also been adjusted to detect scooters. Usage of the cycleway has been noticeably increasing for bikes and scooters and you can often see bunches of each riding along. This is reflected in the numbers where we’re seeing a lot more big days.
Finally, it’s also interesting to look at when people are riding. For this I’ve used the 26 counters that AT use as a cross-section of the city. Compared to the same period the year before, we can see that weekdays remain the busiest but that there has been some change and Wednesday’s have become the most popular day of the week for getting out on a bike.
Note: while public holidays are excluded, some of these results may be slightly skewed by them, e.g. the Christmas eve Monday sandwiched between a weekend and Christmas was significantly down on the other Mondays which is likely why it has been dragged down a bit.
Overall we’re seeing some good numbers coming through from our cycleways as more and more people get out on a bike. This growth has also occurred at a time when Auckland Transport haven’t rolled out all that many new pieces of bike infrastructure. If they can get on with the delivery, we’ll see these numbers really jump up.