Sunday, 18 October 2015

Goldsmith's Row cycle counter

Goldsmith's Row runs from just South of the Cat & Mutton Bridge over the Regents Canal to the junction with Hackney Road. It is part of London Cycle Network Route 9 and is a highly used cycle route for people travelling from Hackney Central or Waltham Forest and beyond into Central London as it joins up with the cycle path through London Fields via Broadway Market and continues onto Hackney Town Hall via the partially filtered Martello Street and the bicycle only Hackney Grove via the Richmond Road Crossing. Although it is now often referred to as a cycle route it has been a well used route for centuries, and was formally called the "Black Path" or the "Market Porters Route" as this was where farmers would walk their livestock into the City of London back when London Fields really was just fields and Hackney was a small farming village on the outskirts of the City. This map from nearly 200 years ago gives you a good idea of the route they would have taken via Bird Cage Walk (now Columbia Road) and on through Shoreditch to Smithfield meat market in Farringdon.

A few years ago the bottom half of Goldsmith's Row became a bicycle only road and then in August 2013 a cycle counter was added which, via a sensor buried in the roadway, counts and displays the number of bikes that have been past that day, along with the total so far for the year and similar figures are also displayed on the Hackney Council website, updated daily

A picture I took of the cycle counter a few days after it was installed 
A few months ago I asked Hackney Council for a list of daily counts here since it was installed, they duly obliged but I have only now got round to doing anything with the figures. I've worked out the average number of cycle trips each weekday for each month since August 2013, along with the average number of cycle trips per day at the weekend, as these are always significantly lower (presumably due to the large number of commuters using the route during the week). I've also worked out the average number of cycle trips each week (Monday to Sunday) for each month and then added the total number of cycle trips that took place in each month (minus August 2013 and April 2015 which I don't have the full set of figures for).

Note that I've counted these as the total number of "cycle trips", not the number of "cyclists" as often these will be the same person twice going to and from work, the pub, etc.

2014 is, obviously, the only calendar year where a full set of figures is available but with figures for the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2015 it gives quite a good picture of cycling figures across the year along this road. The average number of cycle trips is at just over 4,000 for August and September 2013, dipping below 4,000 in October and November and then down to just over 2,000 in December. Into 2014 it then rises above 3,000 in January and February, reaching nearly 4,000 from March to May and then hits over 4,500 in June and July before dipping down to under 4,000 in August, rising back above 4,500 in September and then following a similar patter of the year before to the end of 2014. The figures for 2015 are similar to the previous two years averaging between 3,000-4,000 cycle trips per weekday.

The average number of cycle trips at the weekend are (roughly) half of that during the week averaging between 2,000-3,000 over the summer and 1,000-2,000 during the winter. Goldsmith's Row is a popular commuting route so this is to be expected but it is also popular at the weekend due to the market on Broadway Market on Saturday, the Columbia Road flower market on Sunday, the very popular Hackney City Farm and the quiet link it provides to the canal which links up with Victoria Park and other popular cycling green areas. Interestingly the Christmas & New Year week at the end of 2013 is the only time that cycle trips are actually higher at the weekend than they are during the week

The average number of cycle trips per week unsurprisingly follows a similar pattern to the average per day but is always between 20,000 and 30,000 except for January 2014 and February 2015 where they dip just below 20,000 and both Decembers when they both dip below 15,000.

And then monthly totals also follow the same pattern of being higher in the summer and lower in the winter. July 2014 is the highest figure here when nearly 130,000 cycle trips were made with December 2013 the lowest with just over 65,000 trips, the only month where the total number of cycle trips was below 70,000. In 2014, the only year with a full set of figures, the total number of trips was always above 100,000 a month from March to October and always below it from November to February.

Of the ten lowest daily totals it'll probably come as little surprise that Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years' Day all feature in the five lowest daily totals but I was also surprised to see a date in August there; Monday the 25th 2014, which was the date of the Summer Bank holiday. I also count myself as two of the cycle trips on Christmas day in both 2013 and 2014.

Ten lowest daily totals:


As for the ten highest daily totals Tuesday the 3rd of June 2014 is listed as the highest at 6,624 trips but this is significantly higher than any other day and the only time when more than 6,000 cycle trips have been counted in one day. I initially searched for any events that may have been happening that day, such as a bus strike, or exceptionally hot weather but could find nothing. It was the Hackney bike workshop alongside in Hackney City Farm that day but that happens twice per month so shouldn't skew the figures by that much. I then saw that the Hackney Cycling conference took place just four days later so thought perhaps there may have been some local rides by councillors, cycling activists or highway engineers to view cycle infrastructure in the local area that may have contributed to the sudden rise.  However I then noticed that the previous day, Monday 2nd June there were only 2,559 trips which is also exceptionally low for a weekday in June so have therefore concluded that this is an error with the counting software and some of the cycle trips from Monday were mistakenly counted on the Tuesday instead and Goldsmith's Row has still not seen over 6,000 trips in one day. Or I could be wrong of course and those two days are exceptional for no particular reason.

Ten highest daily totals:


From September 2014 to March 2015 we're also able to have year-on-year comparisons and can see that the total number of cycle trips per month increased in four of those months but decreased in three of them. However these are fairly small numbers so there hasn't really been any real significant increase or decrease in people cycling along here so far as I can see. At the end of next Summer I'll probably approach the council again for more up to date figures and if they oblige then we'll have three full years' worth of data which should give a much clearer indication of any significant changes in cycling numbers.

I can't really see how the number of people choosing to cycle here can increase significantly as whilst Goldsmith's Row is a lovely route to cycle along any serene cycling conditions simply end at Hackney Road when you're suddenly thrown into some of he worst cycling conditions possible in London, which I've written about before and continue to bang on about. There is a nice two way cycle track to the North of Hackney Road but it only runs for about the length of a swimming pool and links Goldsmith's Row up with Columbia Road so is no use if you're travelling along Hackney Road from Shoreditch to Cambridge Heath. Quite unbelievably in the draft "vision for Hackney" document for this area found on the Hackney cycling campaign website the call is for this cycle track to be removed and the land given over to Hackney City Farm!

Now I'm a big fan of Hackney City Farm and am there often, either there with my daughter mostly watching the pigs sleep or enjoying the food in the cafe, but it is insane to remove the only section of traffic free cycling from Hackney Road, turn it into #space4chickens and force people into cycling in primary position in front of lorries. Any measures like this will certainly not increase the amount of people cycling on Goldsmith's Row. The correct answer of what to do with this valuable piece of land is, of course, to use it for building cycle tracks on both sides of Hackney Road, with bus stop bypasses, as part of a plan to install segregated cycle lanes along the entire length of Hackney Road as loosely promised by Hackney Council last year. However I'm sick of waiting for this so I'll be switching my commute to Tower Hamlets and CS2 when it is finished next year, a longer but safer cycle route to work as I simply cannot stand ten more years of mixing it with lorries on Hackney Road.

1 comment:

  1. Hello, Great stats you have there. I create visual art based on cycling trips, but was wondering what one of these would look like using the qty of rides for 2015. Refer to my website
    Do you have the raw data from 2013 onwards? It woul dbe very interesting to see what it comes out like putting 3 years of qty of riders going through Hackney Farm in a MassifCentral style? thanks