12 July 2010

NEW FEATURE: The Bike Commuter Index

Hello all, long time no post! Major apologies for that, but I return to introduce a new feature: the Bike Commuter Index. Some long-time friends may know that I developed this a few years back and have long kept it as a test of how popular commuting by bike is in my neighborhood. The basic idea is to count how many bike commuters there are in a given area/along a given route. To make it neutral, I count on a per-mile basis, so that the counter riding additional miles cannot boost the numbers. The method is as follows:

+1 for every bike commuter you see on your commute (must be roughly during "rush hours") who is dressed for work/in normal clothes, or is carrying a backpack or pannier
+1/2 for every rider in spandex NOT carrying backpack or panniers. I don't want to be counting people out for "training rides" who regard biking as a sport and actually drive to work. I figure it's half-and-half whether they have a change of clothes waiting for them at work, or are just being sporty.
+1/2 for every bike seen mounted on the front of a bus. Multi-modal commuters are good too, but not strictly bike commuters. Admittedly, I don't always notice this, but I figure it should count when I do.
+0 for children under driving age. Sorry, doesn't count. Though if you can't quite tell, go ahead and count them.
+0 for parked bikes. Who knows how long they've been there, how long they'll stay there, how often they're actually used... Sorry, nope.
-1/2 for every near-accident you witness or are involved in. This deters bicyclists.
-2 for every ACTUAL accident you witness or are involved in. See above, but worse.
Now divide by the number of miles ridden!

For instance, this morning I saw 11 bicyclists, plus myself so 12, with no accidents or incidents of any sort. My route to work is 5 miles, so the BCI for this morning was 2.4! So for every mile ridden, there's an average of 2.4 bicyclists out there.

This will start to have more context as I post in this series more often, but for now I'll just mention that when I developed this around 3 years ago, most days the BCI didn't even hit 1.0. I'm definitely riding a more bicycle-friendly route now, so that accounts for some of it, but I'm still pleased that it's gone up. On the other hand, the car-commuter index would be in the tens of thousands if I could manage to count it, so that's still a little depressing.