November 2015

Cycling (and driving) in the rain

Our November traffic count encountered the dreichest day of any count, and bike use fell 11% from last year’s dry and mild November count.  But cyclists didn’t jump into a car … indeed, car use fell 7% to its lowest ever November figure …

With alternating heavy drizzle and rain, and following on from two very wet and windy days, the data from this count provided some really interesting insights and more than one mystery.   The value of counting cars (and commercial vehicles) as well as bikes, was again very clear.   As usual, we counted traffic northbound and southbound at Lothian Road and at Forrest Road.

Bikes still comprised around 20% of northbound vehicles (21.3% at Forrest Road and 18.6% at Lothian Road) and 8.6% of southbound.

The north-south divide

Overall bike numbers (8-9am) fell from 484 (15.8% of all vehicles) to 429 (14.8%).  Yet, within that, whilst northbound cyclists at both locations fell significantly, from 387 to 316, southbound increased, from 97 to 113, their highest ever November level, and from 7.2% of all vehicles to 8.6%, another record.

Meanwhile car numbers fell both northbound and southbound, and commercial vehicles (buses, taxis, vans etc) were virtually unchanged from last year in both directions.

What is so special about southbound cyclists?  If you know the answer, tell us!

Car totals

Total car numbers fell nearly 7%, from 1827 last November to 1704, easily the lowest figure in any of our November counts – scotching any suggestion that lots of people automatically transfer to car when it is wet.

With both car and bike use falling, and a rainy disincentive to walk, it would be interesting to know if bus user numbers were up, or if lots of people just stay at home!  Unfortunately we can’t count bus passengers – but maybe a reader knows what happens to rush-hour bus passenger numbers on wet days.  Our ‘commercial vehicles’ count was 763, almost identical to last November’s 762.

Single-occupant cars

For all our November counts since 2009, a consistent 73%-74% of cars had only a single occupant.  This year, however, single-occupancy jumped to nearly 78% of cars, rising in both directions, though most strongly southbound.   Perhaps people making ‘optional’ passenger journeys (e.g. for shopping) stay at home if it’s wet.   Or maybe the fall in overall car use is differentially affecting multi-occupant car journeys.  Or maybe …

The main point, however, is that around 3/4 of all these cars have only a single occupant – each such car grabbing a huge area of precious rush-hour roadspace for just one person.

Full count data

Find our November 2015 count results, a file of trends from 2006, and background to the counts and their interpretation on our counts page.



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