48 Minutes and 75 Bikes on the Boulder Creek Path

I spent some time this afternoon sitting alongside the Boulder Creek Path out east of where it joins up with the Goose Creek Path, heading toward the ocean of office parks that employ a significant chunk of Boulder, a 7 minute ride from my house at 21st and Walnut.  As the sun headed for the continental divide, I took a picture of (almost) every bike that went by.  Over 48 minutes, I saw 75 bikes. 

Looking at the photos after the fact, I did some counting and found some things out about cyclists in Boulder.

Most people were carrying things — even the sporty spandex folks — and most of those who were carrying things were doing it on their backs: 41 people (55%) had a backpack or shoulder bag, while only 10 people (13%) had panniers.  Some people had both a backpack and panniers; even more people had a backpack and a forlorn, empty rear rack.  Out of 75 riders, only 11 (15%) were women.  Two thirds of the riders (including all but one woman) were wearing helmets.  A somewhat different two thirds of riders were wearing street clothes (though, sometimes in Boulder, differentiating “street clothes” from “sportswear” can be challenging!)

Before I actually did the counts, I mentioned to a friend my expectations about the counts.  I thought I’d seen about a 4:1 ratio of men to women (not the 6:1 ratio it turned out to be), and I thought that virtually everyone had been wearing a helmet.  I guessed 10:1 vs. the 2:1 it actually turned out to be.  I was also surprised at how many people were totally decked out in riding kit — I would have guessed more than half, but it turned out to be only a third.  It’s interesting how perceptions get skewed like that.

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Zane Selvans

A former space explorer, now marooned on a beautiful, dying world.

2 thoughts on “48 Minutes and 75 Bikes on the Boulder Creek Path”

  1. Nice photos, Zane. I suspect that you’ll get different statistics depending on where you take the photos–near CU you’ll see many fewer helmets, and many more women. On the Broadway path south of town, you’ll see many more older folks, mostly men, with panniers.

    Does the city ever make a bicycle count on the paths and streets, as Portland does? I’d be interested to find out the origin of the statistics for bicycle usage.

  2. I plan on doing more of these counts, and keeping a public Google docs spreadsheet with the location and time and results, so we can see how it varies. Don’t know if the city keeps this kind of data, but it’s not easily findable in any case…

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