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New phone app will keep tabs on bicyclists using local streets



TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - A bike commuter gets to work outside Portland City Hall. The city is celebrating all things bicycle this month; the seasons first Sunday Parkways on Mothers Day drew a record-breaking 16,250 walkers, bikers, skateboarders, in-line skaters and people in wheelchairs.  Last years event saw 14,000 participants.City transportation officials are gearing up to pilot another way of counting cyclists on the streets — with the launch of a free smartphone app called Ride.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation will roll out a prototype of the app for beta testing on Thursday, May 14, during the city’s first-ever 24-hour bike count, called Every Bike Counts.

As part of May’s Bike Month festivities, it’s set to kick off at noon Thursday and wrap up at noon Friday at the intersection of Southeast Ankeny and 28th Avenue.

PBOT staff and volunteers will take shifts tallying the bikes that travel through the intersection, and a nearby “celebration station” will offer refreshments and a chance to win prizes from local businesses.

Using the same methodology of their annual summer bike counts, they’ll also track riders’ turn movements, helmet usage and gender to glean information they can use in transportation planning and education.

“Every bike counts,” says PBOT spokeswoman Diane Dulken. “We want to hear where you ride, why you ride. It’s also a way to celebrate people who ride, and sign up people to do additional bike counts this summer.”

The Ride app, meanwhile, will be an additional way to track cyclists’ movements.

Developed by the Portland startup company called Knock, the app will collect Geographic Information System trip data from app users that the city purchased from the San Francisco-based mapping company Strava.

When an app user rides by one of the city’s physical bike counters, the smartphone will transit the data to the cloud server. PBOT hopes to start the pilot of Ride this summer.

“By using technology we can capture far more data and far more patterns,” Dulken says.

The app is the city’s latest effort to gain more data about cyclists needed for policy decision-making.

The city already uses two primary methods to develop what PBOT officials say is one of the largest databases of bicycle use in the country.

“While our bike count data is the envy of the nation, it pales in comparison to the motorized vehicle data collected by state and federal transportation agencies,” says Steve Hoyt-McBeth, a PBOT project manager. “We’re looking at many initiatives to collect better data more efficiently.”

TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Christopher Bowker gets help inspecting and registering his bike from Portland Police Officer David Sanders during a City Hall-sponsored breakfast to kick off PDX Bike Month.One of the current data-collection methods is the annual summer bike counts at about 200 intersections across the city.

Dozens of volunteers stand with clipboards and pens logging bike traffic during peak commuting times.

The data from these two-hour blocks is then extrapolated to produce the number of daily bike riders at each intersection.

“We know that lots of people are riding bikes beyond typical commute hours, and that they are using bikes for trips other than the commute to work,” Dulken says. “Every Bike Counts provides an opportunity to say thanks to all those riders, no matter what time of day or where their destination.”

The second way the city currently tracks bike use is with the automated hose counts on the Broadway, Burnside, Hawthorne, Morrison and Steel bridges.

The most visible counter is on the west end of the Hawthorne Bridge, where Cycle Oregon donated a real-time display counter a few years ago.

Last Friday was the highest usage of cyclists on the bridge in the past 30 days, with 8,500 riders logged by midday. (See Bike Barometer)

“Better data informs better decisions for keeping Portland streets safe and traffic moving in all neighborhoods,” Dulken says.


janderson@portlandtribune.com


BIKE MONTH BEAT

Bike Month has just begun. Here’s what’s planned for the rest of of the month:

• Friday, May 15 — National Bike to Work Day.

• Friday, May 15 — Go Lloyd Bike Day Party, 7:30-9 a.m. at Oregon Square, Northeast Eighth Avenue and Holladay Street.

• Friday, May 15 — Portland Employers Bike Summit, presented by Regence, at the east side of Pettygrove Park. See portlandemployerbikesummit.com for details.

• Sunday, May 17 — Family Ride to the Tram, 12:30 p.m. at Splendid Cycles, 407 S.E. Ivon St.

• Tuesday, May 19 — Quick Fix Bike Breakfast at Southeast Cesar Chavez Avenue and Lincoln Street, 7:30-9 a.m.

• Tuesday, May 19 — Low-Car Living class, 6:30-8 p.m. at PCC Cascade Campus Student Center, pre-registration required.

• Wednesday, May 20 —Low-Car Living class, 6:30-8 p.m., PCC CLIMB Center, pre-registration required.

• Thursday, May 21 — Quick Fix Bike Breakfast, Southwest Barbur Boulevard and Hamilton Street, 7:30-9 a.m.

• Thursday, May 21 — Bike Lunch and Learn, noon-1 p.m., City Hall, 1221 S.W. Fourth Ave.

• Thursday, May 28 — Quick Fix Bike Breakfast, 7:30-9 a.m., Northeast 32nd Avenue at Tillamook Street.

• Thursday, May 28 —Bikes from the Heart (bike story hour for kids), 11 a.m. at Lloyd Center Barnes and Noble.

• Saturday, May 30 — Cycle the Well Field, 8:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Aloft at Cascade Station, 9920 N.E. Cascades Parkway, pre-registration required.

For more on the city’s Bike Month events: portlandoregon.gov/transportation/34772

WANT TO VOLUNTEER?

Anyone interested in volunteering as a bike counter may email Taylor Sutton: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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