Get a car? No thanks, I'm fine with my bike. This was part of my plan when finding a place to live. A little foresight saved me the expense and hassle of buying, insuring, maintaining and driving a car. The commute is less than four miles, and most of it is on a paved trail without traffic stops. The perfect path for a biker. I wanted to live close to this trail and centered my housing search years ago. Thanks, Google maps. Each morning and evening, you'll see me on the trail unless the weather turns hideous.
While I'm pedaling, I like to count how many others take the same approach. There are a few regulars who zoom past me, appareled in fluorescent yellow nylon and sparkling with red flashing safety signals. Their stripped down carbon frames vault ahead of my 80's model Cannondale. I can't complain, though. Someone left it on the curb when clearing out their basement years ago, and it's served me perfectly for the past few years.
Does my data follow any pattern? Could the data be used in any scientific or sociological study? probably not. I don't record the time when I commute, and my job lets me leave if my work is complete. Both the morning and evening commutes are scattered somewhere in the morning and afternoon.
I have no idea if the other cyclists are commuting to work, shopping, lost or just out for a ride. I don't record their direction either, so a biker gets counted whether they pass me from ahead or behind. Anyone I see is fair game, whether they're passing parallel or perpendicular to my path. This means people on underpasses or bridges too. All it takes to get counted are:
- the vehicle is human-powered (no mopeds or scooters, but I've seen and counted an electric-assist model once)
- the bike is moving or recently so (I ignore people moving bikes on their car or locking them up, but cyclists changing a tire next to the trail get counted)
- the rider is an adult (kids don't count - there are too many)
Generally, the hypnotic turning wheels and pedals keep me occupied, and I'll roll a mile down the trail without looking around. This definitely invalidates the data as a scientific resource, since a pack of peddlers could pass when I'm not watching out.
So what are the numbers like? Many mornings have zero bikers. However, if I catch my regulars there can be as many as 3-4. The evening commutes generally have more riders. On bright summer afternoons the counts swell to double-digits when joggers break out their bikes instead of running shoes. See you on the trail!