Monday, April 18, 2016

The 2015 Bicycle Count: A 7% decrease!

With the flim-flam accompanying its latest Bicycle Count Report, it seems that the MTA is desperate to maintain the fiction that cycling in the city is increasing significantly. 

Otherwise, the crude propaganda in their press release is hard to explain, since anyone who actually reads the report knows that the number of cyclists counted has actually gone down at 51 of the 78 locations where people are actually doing the counting.

But the city is "moving to better data collection" with automatic counters. On page 9:

For example, the September 14-20, 2015 manual counts (taken for only two hours from 4:30-6:30 p.m., not capturing the full evening commute) report a seven percent decrease from the September 2014 manual counts. While the 15 automated counters also reported a similar decrease in this September 14-20 time-frame, automated counts for all of September weekdays showed a two percent increase from September 2014 to September 2015 (~234,000 to ~239,000).(emphasis added).

That is, the machines counted more cyclists on the count days because they were counting all the weekdays in September, not the same seven days counted manually. But the only comparison that can be made is between the manual count of 2014 and the manual count in 2015 at the same locations.

Who are you going to believe, the lying eyes of the actual people doing the count or the MTA's counting machines? 

A prediction: the city will eliminate the "manual" count by actual people and switch to an "automatic" count with the machines. That means there won't be any human verification of the numbers, just like there's no way we can verify the accident numbers the city now doles out to the city's credulous reporters.

The graph at the bottom of page 9 shows how the count has leveled off in the last two years. Even the caption on the graph tries to minimize the significance of the manual count: "while manual counts saw a 7% decrease when just analyzing two hours in the PM peak commute over only 6 days." 

By my reckoning, if the count is done between Sept. 14 and Sept. 20, that's seven days, not six.

Check it out: Of the 78 manual count locations in the report, 51 showed a decrease in the cyclists counted compared to 2014.

Even 12 of the 17 locations that had "improvements" in the last year---new bike lanes or paint for visibility---had fewer cyclists counted than in 2014.

Some unimpressive statements: "There are an estimated 82,000 bicycle trips in San Francisco per day." Seems like a big number, but the context is important. Unmentioned: there are more than 2 million trips made in the city every day by all "modes" of transportation (page 5).

"According to the American Community Survey, bike mode share for commute trips made by San Francisco residents increased to 4.4 percent in 2014." 

When you check out the Transportation Fact Sheet---which the city is no longer going to publish. Gee, I wonder why?---on page 3, we learn that the ACS percentage for bike commuters was 2.1% in 2000. 

You can call that a 100% increase in the percentage of bike commuters, but it took us 14 years to get to 4.4% from 2.1%. Since then we have been bombarded with pro-bike, anti-car propaganda from City Hall and the Bicycle Coalition, we have a right to be unimpressed.

If you read the stories on the report in SF Bay or Hoodline, you only get the MTA's propaganda about "a major citywide increase in cyclists." 

Interesting to note that SF Streetsblog hasn't done a story yet on the report. Maybe Rudick has actually read it, not just the press release.

Joe Rodriguez in the Examiner of course buys all of the MTA's propaganda and obviously didn't take a close look at the report, which is what he also does on Masonic Avenue (here and here).

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