Lots more pictures on Flickr.
A few days ago the City of Vancouver posted the daily statistics for the Dunsmuir and Hornby separated bike lanes (available here). I am the self-appointed data nerd at work, and thought it would be fun to apply some of the same techniques we use to analyze building energy to bike trips.
The first thing I did was go through the data to see if I could determine the driving factors of bike lane usage. The data file contains data from several sensors (located up and down Hornby and Dunsmuir) but I focused on the Dunsmuir viaduct because it had the most data (11 months worth). With only 11 months of data, you can’t do any year-over-year comparisons, but you can start to notice trends.
The first obvious pattern is there is a clear difference between weekday and weekend usage, with volumes nearly doubling Monday-Friday. This makes sense, since the bike lanes provide access to the downtown.
There is also a noticeable seasonal difference in the data, with summer traffic (peaking at 2099 trips per day) doubling the December high of 1025. The driver of this is, as you might guess, weather related. Once I added in weather data from Environment Canada, you can see a strong correlation between average temperature and bike trips.
The next biggest driver of bike trips is the addition of the separated bike lane on Dunsmuir. On March 3 a bike lane was added to the Dunsmuir Viaduct. On June 15, the separated bike lane extending from the viaduct to Hornby was completed, replacing a painted bike lane. It really shifted up usage of the Dunsmuir Viaduct, adding about 500 extra trips per day in the 2nd half of June.
You can build a pretty good linear model that would predict bike lane usage based on the day of the week and the temperature. The outliers you’ll notice are holidays (which have very low usage), fireworks (which were the highest used days) and days with > 3 mm of rain (marked with R) or snow (marked with S). I was surprised that holiday volumes are lower then weekend volumes. Rain and snow are obvious deterrents to cycling, but extreme cold apparently isn’t. On days where the temperature dropped below freezing, but were dry, cycling volumes were on par with days averaging +5 C.
The last question to ask is “is bike usage increasing”? There was a definite jump after the Dunsmuir separated lane bike lane was completed on June 15. Looking at data since then, you need to isolate out weather to make a fair comparison. If you look at months with similar average temperatures (July/August and December/January) there is small, but noticeable growth in cycling volumes. However, it is tough to say if it is a trend or not. Another year of data would really help. After July 2011, we’ll be able to compare the data to July 2010 and do a year-over-year comparison where the infrastructure isn’t changing. That is when we’ll be able to spot growth.
Thanks to the City of Vancouver for providing this data and the separated bike lanes. It is really interesting to see the growth of commuter cyclists in Vancouver.
Update: Hirtopolis addresses the issue of data fudging and anomalous readings in the city’s data.
The snow just won’t leave. It started snowing last weekend and hasn’t gone away since. Right now, big fluffy flakes are falling, coating streets that already had hard-packed snow on them. It reminds me a lot of Winnipeg. If it wasn’t for the odd person walking around with an umbrella, or cars with chains on the tires, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Snow in Vancouver isn’t rare – every winter I’ve spent here has had some snow, but it has never lasted for more then a day. This year it just won’t go away and Vancouver is set to have its first “White Christmas” in over a decade. I enjoy the snow. As long as you don’t need to drive, it’s a nice change from the rain we usually get around this time of year. Today, Emily and I went down to the park and tobogganed for a while.
Emily and I are all settled in to our new home. The last box was unpacked on Wednesday; our internet is all hooked up; the walls are decorated with pictures and paintings; and stuff we don’t need regularly is down in storage. It’s starting to feel like home. The only missing piece for me was a gaming system, so I broke down last week and bought an XBox 360. Now I have a little corner of gadgets and toys in the living room – a place to call my own. I think I’ll rub some stinky gym clothes around it to mark my territory.
After 2 weeks of backpacking across Scandinavia with Ben, I’m back in Vancouver. It’s frickin’ hot here: 25 C right now. I don’t think it broke 20 once while we were travelling.
I’m going to go make a cold fruit smoothy, take a dip in the pool, and then go suntan on the beach. I’m still on vacation for 2 more days, so laundry, picture uploading, and journal updating can wait.
Life is good.
It was bound to happen. After I gushed about the amazing weather last weekend, the weather gods have decided to punish me for my glee.
It’s snowing out right now, and more is forecast for this weekend. Snowing! In Vancouver! In April!
Of course, I have lots of weather-dependent events planned for this weekend. Saturday is Bike the Blossoms, a 1st annual event that celebrates the cherry blossoms, biking, and slow food. It should be wonderful (if it’s not still snowing). Sunday is the Sun Run, which normally isn’t ironically named. I’m still looking forward to the run. They have more than 55,000 people registered to run, but if it snows I bet half stay home instead.
I guess if the weather is really horrible, I can always play video games all weekend. We have a rocking game of online Diplomacy going right now. It’s surprisingly fun.
I think the snow has stopped. I can bike home safely.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been feeling kind of down about my current life. I’m not entirely happy at work (a bit bored), I’m getting old (quarter century now), and I’m starting to feel too settled here in Vancouver. When I was home in Winnipeg, I talked to a lot of people about what I’m doing now and it made me think of what I’ve accomplished and where I’m going in life. Am I living up to my full potential? Is Vancouver right for me? And with all these questions and dark thoughts, I was starting to seriously contemplate moving somewhere else – maybe Silicon Valley for a sweet Google job, maybe back to Winnipeg to be closer to family.
And the weather here didn’t help. But just when I can’t take any more of the grey skies and drizzle, we get the most amazing weather last weekend – with bright sun and warm temperatures. On Saturday we took full advantage, with a wine and cheese party on the beach – something that could only happen in Vancouver. We spent 5 hours sitting on the beach, drank at least 10 bottles of wine, tossed around the frisbee, ate lots of cheese, and enjoyed ourselves. The cops came by twice, but never bothered us. It was such a perfect Vancouver afternoon, and this city is awesome.
I realized it’s not just the conveniently located beaches and occasionally amazing weather that make Vancouver special. It’s the laid-back attitude, the easy access to recreation, and the ability to get by without owning a car. There are a lot of intangibles that would be tough to find in another city.
The past few weeks have been busy. I’ve attempted to salvage what’s left of the summer and spend as much time outdoors as possible. The weather hasn’t exactly cooperated, with cool temperatures and drizzle being the norm lately.
When the sun did come out, I tried to take full advantage. The two evenings lounging on the beach, drinking wine and eating cheese were awesome. We had a crazy BBQ on the roof at work, with bartenders, copious amounts of alcohol, volleyball, and limbo contents – the party was eventually shut down by the police around 10 (earlier BBQs this summer fizzled out around 6 when the booze was gone). It was also sunny for this month’s Critical Mass, and Emily attended for the first time. I think she was put off by the crowds of bikes and the slow pace, which led to more than one rear-fending. Luckily nothing crazy like in Minneapolis happened.
The weather wasn’t as nice for the two camping trips we went on. Three weekends ago, Emily and I went up to Strathcona Provincial Park in the middle of Vancouver Island. It rained on us all weekend, but between our rain gear, tent, and tarps we managed to stay reasonably dry. We did some hiking and canoeing, saw 2 bears on the road, and almost hit a deer.
For the Labour Day long weekend, we had planned on heading down to Olympic National Park in Washington, but the 3 hour border wait scared us off. Instead we took a quick ferry over to the Sunshine Coast and camped at Robert’s Creek which doesn’t take reservations and had a few nice spots open when we arrived. Again, it was drizzly (Sunshine Coast my ass), but we made the most of our weekend, doing some nice hikes at Smuggler’s Cove and the Skookumchuk Narrows. We also had roaring camp fires every night, which made the trip worth it. The first night we made a salad from local vegetables we had bought at the farmer’s market and the local grocery store, and roasted veggie dogs on the camp fire. Best camping meal ever! We also got to spend some time with Nim and Lucy who were on the coast too.
In between the camping trips, we spent a day at the Pacific National Exhibition. We had a blast. The wooden roller coaster here is the best I’ve ever been on; We loaded up on deep fried goodness (including perogies from Winnipeg’s own Hunky Bill); Looked at all the farm animals in the barns; And Emily won a big frog playing Whack-A-Mole. The frog has been named Fanny and has become fast friends with CJ, the gender-confused teddy bear I won last year at the PNE. Next year I’m going to memorize all these carnival game tips and come home with a giant gorilla.