Right on the heels of my recent complaint about non-contextual use of data comes some really useful data: Bike Walk Twin Cities reports a 33% increase in bicyclists in Minneapolis and Saint Paul between 2007 and 2010.
The organization conducts annual cyclist counts in the central Twin Cities core as part of the attempt to measure the impact of accelerated investment in mode-shift driven via the Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Program. These counts occur in September on weekdays from 4-6pm at locations throughout the Twin Cities, including 31 consistent benchmark locations.
The compared counts between 2007 and 2010 found dramatic increases in cycling in locations with improved infrastructure, and reasonable increases even in locations without such investment. In locations with new infrastructure, counts found a measurable decrease in the number of cyclists using sidewalks (40 – 80% drops, depending on location). As sidewalk use by cyclists correlates to increased accident and injury rate, this is especially good news.
Bike Walk Twin Cities continues to invest in new projects to promote cycling locally. Upcoming projects include helping to fund expansion of Nice Ride Minnesota to North Minneapolis and Saint Paul, a new bicycle boulevard (the Riverlake Greenway, along 40th and 42nd Streets East in south Minneapolis), the new University of Minnesota bicycle center, the extension of the Hiawatha bikeway to downtown, and a variety of access improvements in contiguous suburbs (Falcon Heights, Roseville, Edina, Richfield, and Golden Valley).
The rapid funding of so many projects has been a by-product of the Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Program, the future of which remains uncertain. However, given the significant progress made with funds available to date — and the funding of some big, expensive infrastructure — additional sustained growth can be built via smaller investments, new funding sources, and high-visibility education and outreach to encourage more people to take advantage of completed projects.
There are buckets and buckets of data on the Bike Walk Twin Cities web site for anyone who wants to dig deeper into the results, as I hope to do in the coming days.