Aug. 14, 2012 at 3:06 PM ET
Riding a bike to work is a great way to save gas, the environment, and your health, which may explain why eco-conscious Portland is the most bike-friendly city in America, according to the latest rankings from Bicycling Magazine.
Bike advocates, however, want the City of Roses to be even friendlier — and safer.
In an effort to advance their cause, Cycle Oregon donated a $20,000 visual bike counter to the city, which has been installed on a bridge bike path that’s popular with the pedal-power set. Costs to the city are expected to be below $5,000.
"This bike counter is not part of a spandex revolution. The last thing our city needs is more middle-aged men in tight pants," said Jonathan Nicholas, founder of the counter's donor group, Cycle Oregon, at a dedication ceremony. Instead, it is a path to healthier citizens and safer travel.
The counter, a first-of-its-kind in the United States, consists of four sets of air hoses strung across the Hawthorne Bridge. A pulse is generated when the weight of a bike rolls over them, explains Bike Portland.
The visual component is an eight foot tall sign that keeps a daily count and a vertical chart showing the number of bikes this year. It tops out at 2 million.
Data posted to the counter’s website indicates that since August 8, most days have seen between 6 and 7 thousand bikers cross the counter.
"We have to find a way for urban dwellers to live more active lifestyles and therefore be healthier," explained Nicholas, who went on:
One key part of that is making it easier and safer for people to walk and cycle around our city and one key to making those sort of investments is having accurate, real-time data on which you can base those investments. This counter is all about that.
With data in hand, the bike advocates can petition for more bike paths such as the one on Hawthorne Bridge. More bike paths, in turn, mean that Portlanders who aren’t compelled to give up driving their cars will be less likely to hit a biker on the road.
And if Portlanders see that thousands of their friends and neighbors are getting to work safely on their bikes maybe they’ll too give the old two-wheeler a try.
— via Earth Techling