For the first time since the Broadway bikeway partially opened in October, we’re getting a look at ridership data on Capitol Hill’s signature protected bike lanes. CHS recently obtained Seattle Department of Transportation’s Broadway counter data including hourly bike trip totals from January to May taken from a sensor located between Pike and Union.
Perhaps most interesting is the number of daily rides: In May, there was an average of 409 trips a day on the bikeway, including northbound and southbound rides. By the end of that month, weekday totals were easily approaching 600 rides. Weekday averages have climbed steadily since January, with a slight dip in February likely due to some hectic reroutes during construction of the Capitol Hill Station underground concourse:
Here are the Broadway bikeway weekday averages by month:
- January: 270
- February: 231
- March: 276
- April: 313
- May: 464
The single most active day in the first five months of 2014 was May 14th, with 598 trips. That was the Wednesday before a drizzly Bike to Work Day, by the way, and a week after the full route of the bikeway finally opened connecting Broadway near Seattle Central all the way to Yesler.
Ridership trends appear to be progressing as expected. Rides have increased with warmer weather and the most active hour is during the 5-6 PM commute, mirroring trends from other bike counters in the city. Weekend traffic is also significantly lower than during the weekday. According to SDOT, the counter data will soon be available online.
Broadway’s two-way protected bike lane stretches from Yesler Way up to E Denny Way, connecting Yesler Terrace, First Hill and Capitol Hill. Big blue bollards protect the route through its core. While the bikeway is significant for being central Seattle’s first protected bikeway through a major commercial area, a handful of accidents have proven there is still no surefire way to prevent car-bike collisions. There is also a decent hill to climb — in both ways — between Madison and Yesler.
The Broadway bikeway counter, located between Pike and Union, is a small rubber tube that runs across the bike lane and tracks traffic in both directions, according to SDOT’s Craig Moore. Most of the city’s bike counters, including the one on Broadway, require city officials to download the data in person through a Bluetooth connection. There’s no word on whether any of the recorded trips were actually cars passing over the tube — some drivers have had a hard time figuring out the new parking spaces along the route.
SDOT is also using a radar counter on the Broadway block, which is embedded into the bike lane’s concrete and will eventually serve as the permanent counter. Moore said there are no plans for a visible counter “totem” like the one on the Fremont Bridge.
The city has not set any ridership goals for the Broadway bikeway, but will use the data to evaluate broader biking goals laid out in the Seattle Master Bike Plan.
The Broadway bike lane still has a ways to go before it can rival high traffic zones like the Fremont Bridge bike lane, where weekday bicycle trips average roughly 2,000 a day in the winter, and 4,000 a day in the summer. Unfortunately, there’s no good counter comparison to the Broadway bikeway. Moore said that is by design as SDOT attempts to track data across different types of neighborhoods, bikeways, and riders.
The Broadway bikeway is part of the larger First Hill Streetcar project, where rail construction has finished and testing of the overhead power lines recently got underway. The streetcar is slated to open in November between Pioneer Square and E Denny Way on Capitol Hill, and will eventually stretch up to either Aloha or Roy. The bikeway will come along for the ride providing a safer route for bikers away from the dangerous streetcar tracks. The bikeway will split to both sides of the street north of E Roy before transitioning to sharrows for the route down to Roanoke Park.