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2016 Illinois Bike Summit

It's been an unusually busy week here for me. I had family in town and spent two evenings at Wrigley watching the Cubs in addition to being away all of Monday. So today is the first time I've had a chance to catch up on my inbox and blog.

I took Amtrak from Chicago to Bloomington-Normal...that itself could be a blog post. My experience down was great but less so on the way home. Anyway, the venue for the 2016 IL Bike Summit was fantastic--only positive things to say about that. Overall, I went to 4 sessions during the day plus there was a really intriguing lunch speaking from IDOT who spoke at length about culture change at the state level trying to budget and implement bike projects. There was one session on bike law. Another session on kids and biking with an emphasis on starting community and school programs. Plus a super interesting history of early IL bicycling. Again, these all could get their own blog post.

The one I came home from the conference really thinking about, however, was the session on data. Especially as it relates to my position on the village's transportation commission. Some of it more aimed at municipal staff for how to pay for, collect, and use the actual data. There are a growing number of ways to do bike counts and get user info besides old-fashioned hand bike counts.

But the piece of the presentation that really stuck with me was a case study--of sorts--where the consulting company had done research for Grand Rapids, Michigan. So their data set was unique to that area...complete with their challenges of getting information on minority residents/riders. They had a lot to say about matching your data to the population though.

It's not enough to just collect and have generic data. All data is incomplete and needs to be supplemented with other data. In this case, they compared data collected from self-reported samples with census and other information to find surprising results. For instance, the most vulnerable demographic (for them) was kids 14-18 and most of the accidents in Grand Rapids were occurring after school.

A few other snippets..

--40% of all bike crashes involved drivers turning right

--Bike crashes are under-reported

--Riders in their 20's were the most likely to ride on the sidewalk

--Weekly riders are more likely to follow rules while monthly riders are not

--Motorists are more likely to slow down and follow a female cyclist while they're most likely to dangerously pass a male on a bike

--Lots of information on the "inverse safety curve." In other words, the more bike riders on the roads the safer it is. Safety in numbers. The more people ride and the more they are seen riding, the more aware motorists are of the presence of bicycles. It normalizes the behavior and creates that expectation that there will be bikes on the road.

I could go on but I'm intentionally keeping this short as something I may come back to at a later post. Lots of discussion about the demographics of recreational riders. They skew male and towards longer distances. The transportation rider or more casual rider tends to ride for places to go...they need to shop or get to work. It creates a problem diversity-wise because that latter group is harder to cater to, but riding is more essential to them. A very nice discussion about how to monitor and assess these short point-to-point trips...would cyclists, for instance, take a more direct route if they could? Why do they choose the route they do?

More to come....