How did SafeTrack affect Arlington biking rates in 2016?

Since SafeTrack began back in June 2016, Arlington transportation planners have been collecting and analyzing walk and bike data by using the county’s extensive network of counters. In reviewing Surge 11 data, the effects of Metro rail disruptions on the bike traffic seem to be diminishing, while still remaining above last year’s averages.

Looking at three key counters in the Arlington trail network (Rosslyn Custis, Mount Vernon South, and W&OD Bon Air West), there was an immediate spike in Surge 1, which saw daily bike traffic increases over 2015 averaging between 75 percent and 35 percent.

Over the next waves (Surges 2-6), the increases above 2015 counts stayed, but were a more modest overall average of just 17 percent, with a range of 0 percent to 34 percent. The downward trend continued in the later waves (Surges 7-11), with an average increase of 9 percent, and a range of -9 percent to 28 percent.

Interestingly, it’s very difficult to draw conclusions about the direct impact on Arlington ridership. For example, the huge increases in Surge 1 were almost certainly a reaction to the promised decrease in rail service, with the high ridership increase seen at the Rosslyn counter very near the Orange/Silver Line with the diminished service. And in Surge 3, with repair work and service disruptions on the Blue/Yellow, there was a spike in ridership along the Mount Vernon trail.

However, two of the more dramatic spikes in the chart below (Surges 6 and 10) were during phases when the repair work and disruption was on the Red line at stations far away from the county. This could be a result of below average numbers from previous years due to weather, events, or any number of other likely considerations.

The good news is we are still talking about increases, and of the 33 select data points we’re discussing, only four were not increases. For the second half of 2016, ridership was definitely up across the county.

To look at the data in more detail, take a look at our Bike Counter Dashboard and feel free to do your own analysis. What do you think?  Are we on the right track? We’d love to hear what you find.

This post originally appeared on the BikeArlington blog. Head over there to see a chart of counter rates broken down by SafeTrack surges.

Photo: The Bikeometer in Rosslyn on the Custis Trail (Sam Kittner for Mobility Lab,

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