November 2012
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More bikes again: and QBiC helps

[updated 25 November]  Despite drizzly weather the Spokes November 2012 Edinburgh traffic count found yet another rise in bike numbers, both in total and as a % of all vehicles…

On November 13, Spokes repeated the rush-hour traffic count we have done for the last 7 years on a Tuesday in mid-May and mid-November, northbound and southbound on Lothian Road and Forrest Road.  Despite rain before the count period, and drizzle for the first third of the count, there were slightly more cyclists between 8-9am than on last year’s fine November day, and marginally more even than in our May count this year.

The Council’s new Quality Bike Corridor almost certainly helped boost numbers* as cycling levels at Lothian Road were slightly down, probably due to the weather, but this was more than compensated by a rise from 177 to 199 bikes citybound at Forrest Road between 8-9a.m.  With an accompanying drop in citybound private cars on the QBiC route, Forrest Road bikes formed a tremendous 27.3% of all citybound vehicles – our highest ever % at a single count point.

Sustrans’s Matt Davis, City Council Cycling Supremo Cllr Jim Orr and Edinburgh University travel officer Emma Crowther open the bike corridor on 15 November 2012. Whilst Spokes would have preferred segregated sections and tougher 24-hour parking restrictions the QBiC is a definite improvement, and our data suggests it is already starting to attract more users. Hopefully the continuing growth in numbers will add to the pressure for future improvements here and elsewhere, and to the council’s confidence in implementing more radical schemes.
photo: City of Edinburgh council

Our count results, and the council’s South Edinburgh cycling initiatives, were also covered in The Times on 16 November.

Taking our two count points together, there was one small mystery.  Although, despite the weather, citybound cycling rose compared to last November, there was some decline southbound – the reason for this difference is unclear.   At Forrest Road citybound bikes rose substantially, as above, with southbound almost unchanged; and at Lothian Road citybound bikes were unchanged but southbound fell noticeably.

Some other highlights…

  • Between 8-9am we counted 458 bikes in total, compared to 445 in November 2011 and 455 in May this year.
  • At these 4 locations, bikes comprised 15.1% of all vehicles – the highest ever percentage.  It comprised a remarkable 21.2% of all citybound vehicles and 6.8% of southbound.
  • At Forrest Road citybound, bikes were more than 1 in 4 of all vehicles.
  • At Lothian Road, one of Edinburgh’s most cycle-unfriendly streets, but an almost unavoidable access to the city centre, bikes nonetheless formed a remarkable 1 in 6 of all citybound vehicles.
  • With the Mound reopened to cars since our previous November count, there were 71 more southbound cars at Forrest Road – 50 of these apparently diverting from Lothian Road, and doubtless others from the Bridges route.
  • Total cars were 1853, the second-lowest November level we have ever counted, continuing a gradual decline.  Without the Mound reopening, cars would certainly have fallen yet again.  Buses, taxis and other commercial vehicles were slightly up [as a total - we count them as one combined category].
  • Yet again, nearly 75% of private cars contained only a driver – occupying far more of the precious roadspace than a person commuting by bike.

Our traffic counts web page includes full count data and a summary table of 6-year trends.  Note that the above examples all cover exactly one hour, 8-9am; our full count data also includes totals for 7.45-9.15am.

Many thanks to the Spokes volunteers who organised and participated in the count.

Why are bike numbers continuing to rise?  We speculated on the reasons in our November 2011 count article.

*November 25 Update…  Our conclusion that QBiC may have helped boost numbers ties in with the conclusions of a just-released MSc dissertation [entry 1211].  It should be noted that the dissertation research was undertaken during university holidays.

 

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