The number of people biking and walking here is higher than usual, according to new data from the city.
The city’s Bikeway and Pedestrian Program looked at data from nine automatic bicycle and pedestrian counters installed at different spots around the city that revealed a surge in activity, largely corresponding to the city’s Safer-At-Home order issued in late March.
The counters located in parks, along trails, and on city streets detect passing bikes and pedestrians to provide a total count of both modes or a combined count.
Overton park closed to car traffic in late March and began tracking bikers and walkers at its primary access points and the Old Forest gateways earlier this year. At the Old Forest Gateway near Rainbow Lake there has been a huge jump in bicycle activity since late March.
From the third week in March to the third week in April, the number of cyclists counted per week at that spot jumped by 2,000 users. While cyclist numbers hovered around 2,000, pedestrians counted were close to 6,000, according to the data.
On the graphs below, the Overton Park’s Tucker Street access point off of Poplar Avenue is referred to as Tucker, the Old Forest entrance near Rainbow Lake is dubbed Tyler, and the entryway along East Parkway is called Ben.
On Big River Crossing, traffic increased to numbers similar to those in the spring following its opening. Counters along Big River Crossing were installed in fall 2016 and have been tracking traffic ever since.
This year, cyclist numbers began similar to that of last year, but by the second week of March, traffic was higher for that week than the same period in any previous year. And by the fifth week of March, the bicycle counts were more than double the average for that period with a total weekly count of 1,245. Last year, less than 400 users were recorded during that week.
There are multiple counters along the Shelby Farms Greenline. Where the Greeline meets Germantown Parkway, a counter recorded a spike in activity beginning in the last week of March. Usage between late March and the end of April was, on average, 160 percent higher than the same period in 2019.
Moving west, the counter along the Greenline at Farm Road tracked an average of 5,000 cyclists and pedestrians per week between the last week of March and the end of April. From the fourth week in March to the next week, there was close to a 200 percent increase in activity.
Even further west, the Greenline counter near Highpoint Terrace recorded more than 7,000 users from late March through April. This is nearly double the average use for this time period.
The segment of Wolf River Greenway that runs parallel to Humphreys Boulevard has seen the highest usage since tracking began in 2014. Compared to the previous five years, springtime usage climbed more than 80 percent on that portion of the Greenway. In the last week of March alone, nearly 6,000 cyclists and pedestrians were counted, compared to about 2,500 during that period last year.
The city installed an on-street bicycle counter on Florida Street near Crump in 2017. While traffic recorded by this counter is in line with previous years during late February to late March, the first week in April shows a huge spike in usage. The count for that week was 64 compared to 22 in 2019 and 13 in 2018.
Explore Bike Share began offering free 60-minute rides for 30 days on March 20th and recently extended the offer through May 20th. In the initial 30 days of the campaign, “Let’s Ride This Out,” check-outs from EBS’ top 30 stations usage increased by 54 percent compared to the month prior. Of those checkouts, close to 85 percent were new EBS users.