The number of cyclists using the Castle Creek Bridge/Hallam Street corridor during the month of July more than doubled since last year’s $4.6 million effort to improve connectivity in the area.
Data collected from a “tube counter” device that tracks cyclists, but does not count pedestrians, placed at at Sixth and Hallam streets, show that in July 2017, before construction began on the corridor, the median daily number of bikes passing through was 98. In July of this year — the first summer since construction wrapped up in October — median daily use in July was 217.
The project widened what was a narrow sidewalk that directly abutted highway traffic crossing the Castle Creek Bridge to an 8-foot-wide path protected from cars by a guardrail. The sidewalk was also widened past Eighth and Seventh streets and resulted in new bus shelters being installed in a new location where they do not conflict with cyclist and pedestrian traffic. The project also proved the roadway surface and drainage.
“These numbers show people are taking advantage of this route,” Brian Long, the city’s trails field supervisor, wrote in an email. “More importantly, travel through the corridor by bike or on foot is noticeably safer and more comfortable after the bridge improvements.”
Day-by-day counts are higher during the work week than on the weekends, Long noted, showing that the corridor is more frequently used by commuters as opposed to joyriders.
Though the counter is located outside the area affected by the project, most cyclists travelling on Hallam at Sixth Street are coming to or from the Castle Creek Bridge. Likewise, Long estimated that 95 percent of the cyclists coming across the bridge continue on Hallam past Sixth Street.
Long noted that in 2016, when the city installed a temporary wider sidewalk on the bridge as part of a “living lab” to test out the corridor improvements, usage increased. There was also a corresponding dip at that time in the use of the Marolt pedestrian bridge, which also provides bike access into the downtown core. Numbers were not available Friday afternoon to show whether the dip in use of the Marolt bridge has persisted now that the Castle Creek Bridge/Hallam Street corridor improvements are permanent.
The city this week officially designated Hallam Street from Sixth Street into the downtown core as a ped/bikeway, which means that auto traffic on the street is limited to one-block local trips. That extends the bike-friendly infrastructure constructed last summer at the western entrance to town through the West End neighborhood. That designation will be in place through the fall, after which time the city will evaluate its effectiveness.