Portland bike count begins following 37% decrease

Published: Jun. 6, 2023 at 7:26 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - The numbers are officially rolling in as the Portland Bureau of Transportation kicks off its annual bike count.

Between Tuesday and Sept. 28, they’ll use volunteers to collect data from 300 biking areas around town. This comes after numbers in PBOT’s 2022 study showed a 37% downtrend in city bikers between 2019 and 2022.

Around 17,500 bikers hit the streets in 2022.

Bob Grummel has been commuting by bike in Portland since 1985, and he said there have been a lot of positive changes since then.

“The people who got involved that were pushing from the legal side, who pushed the city to make the changes to the bike lanes, made a huge difference,” Grummel said.

He said despite those changes, the homeless population is a deterrent for some people to bike in the city.

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Another biker, Keith Duffy, is a civil engineer who commutes to work by bike every day.

“Unfortunately the crime and all the issues that you see coming in kind of lower the numbers I think,” Duffy said. “And even though as a biker it’s nice to have those extra lanes especially right on Naito here, it also contributes a bit to congestion of traffic, which is understandable.”

“I think most folks who bike commute long enough in this city eventually get bumped by a car here and there, and I’ve had a few minor incidents,” said another biker, Alex Tinker.

The FOX 12 crew witnessed a car driving in a bike lane near Hawthorne Bridge this afternoon.

PBOT hopes to use the data from the annual bike study to decide where to invest in the biking infrastructure.

Spokesperson Dylan Rivera said the main concerns they hear are about safety in the city.

“We can see over time how people’s transportation choices are changing, and how we can invest better to help people meet their daily needs through biking, and walking and taking public transit,” Rivera said.

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He said using actual volunteers rather than electronic counters helps them get a more accurate picture.

They currently have 80% of the 300 sites covered by volunteers, who will track bikers, e-bikers, scooters and skateboarders.

Bikers who spoke with FOX 12 Oregon agreed there’s room for improvement, but the overall progress has been massive.

“Portland went from being one of the worst cities to cycle in in 1985 to one of the best, and that has to do with the city and the bike community that pushed for that,” Grummel added.

The city’s focus on biking comes after city council passed ‘Portland Bicycle Plan 2030′ in 2010, which aims to get at least 25% of city trips on a bike by the year 2030.

To sign up to volunteer for the count or for more information, visit Bicycle Counts | Portland.gov.