November 2010

Spokes Nov 2010 traffic count [updated 5 Dec]

For the 5th November in a row, cyclist numbers have risen in the regular Spokes traffic count…

On November 16 Spokes volunteers again counted traffic at our usual 4 count-points, northbound and southbound on Lothian Road and on Forrest Road.   The results file and the file of trends over the years can be found in our Spokes Traffic Counts downloads page.

Some points of interest…

  • Compared to Nov 2009 bikes rose by 10% or more at 3 of our 4 count points, but fell 10% northbound on Forrest Road (i.e. heading towards Princes Street).  This is exactly the pattern we saw in our May count.
  • Motor traffic was little changed on Lothian Road but rose substantially at Forrest Road.   Although the Mound has reopened since our last November count, that was also true in May when motor traffic did not rise.
  • As a % of all traffic, bikes rose (both ways) on Lothian Road but fell (both ways) on Forrest Road.   Obviously the % reflects the changes in motor traffic as well in cycle use.
  • As in May, total southbound cyclists rose significantly, although still remaining far below those northbound.  As in May, total northbound cyclists fell slightly (but solely as a result of Forrest Road northbound).
  • The proportion of cars which are single occupancy fell very slightly compared to last November but remains at around 3/4 of all cars.    These 1-person vehicles are requisitioning huge amounts of roadspace compared to the 1-person bicycle!

Why is Forrest Road northbound losing cyclists (absolute numbers, not just as a % of all traffic) despite significant rises at all 3 other count points – and exactly as happened in May?   A 10% drop in November and in May is very serious, especially given decent rises at all other count points – not to mention the Council’s target to increase cycle use.

Possible explanations…

  • Most likely seems to be the new Princes Street arrangements  – removal of the left-turn into Princes Street at the foot of the Mound (supposedly temporary, but still not dealt with)  and …
  • the dangerous and scary oblique tramline crossing for those crossing Princes Street (though it’s even worse in the southbound direction, with at least 2 reported crashes of experienced cyclists in less than a year)
  • the cyclist squeeze-point at Hotel Missoni – but this has been in place for longer so is unlikely to be the cause
  • the substantial rise in motor traffic – but cyclists also fell in May despite no rise in motors

Update 5 Dec –
Other suggestions made later by one of the counters…

  • a number of the cyclists were catching trains – anything changed there?  [No?]
  • maybe more cyclists are using route 1, further east?  [if so, why? – again it could be one of the Princes St or Missoni deterring factors above]
  • the Chambers street museum has a big bike park in the back, whose users we count on that stretch, but at the moment there are fewer people working there due to the museum project.
  • the eastwards turn off middle meadow walk opposite quartermile, to Bristo and George Squares, has been improved: are more cyclists turning off before we count them?  [though they still have to contend with the same really awful Geo Sq cobbles].

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