The 2021 Super Tuesday Count – general commentary


Introduction

This year cyclists at 54 locations were counted by 59 volunteers.  (A couple of locations with historically large numbers of cyclists, or complicated movements, were assigned two volunteers.  Also several volunteers were asked to count pedestrians only.)

This year the City of Unley arranged with the Melbourne-based Bike Network to count at locations within its boundaries, including several that had formerly been counted by Bike Adelaide.

Locations counted for the first time were:

  • Clifton St/ Portrush Road
  • Nelson St/ Henry St, Stepney
  • Capper St/ The Parade West, Kent Town
  • Sydenham Road/ The Parade, Norwood
  • Hughes St/ Sir James Congdon Drive, Mile End
  • The intersection in Bonython Park just north of the Electranet Bridge, Adelaide
  • The River Torrens Linear Park (the RTLP), beneath the Montefiore Road bridge, Adelaide.

Most of these were part of our partnership with the City of Norwood, Payneham and St Peters.  The Hughes/ Sir James Congdon Drive location was an attempt to capture those cycling in from the suburbs between Henley Beach road and Sir Donald Bradman Drive.  The two new Adelaide locations were attempts to measure the many cyclists using the River Torrens Linear Park to ride in from the west.  The Electranet Bridge location also captured practically all of those riding in on the Outer Harbor Greenway.

You can look at the figures for each location by clicking on the map below.

Trends in cycling: overall numbers

42 locations were counted in both 2020 and 2021.  8,915 cyclists were counted at these locations in 2021, compared with 9181 the year before – a decline of 2.9%.

Interestingly, a slight majority (22 of the 42) of the locations had more cyclists than the year before, but the intersections that saw the falls tended to be the larger intersections in the City.  As a general rule, the larger the numbers counted, the more likely they were to be below those counted the year before.  Declines here can outweigh increases at many intersections further from the CBD.

The biggest fall in numbers was at the northern end of Pulteney Street.  Pulteney/Pirie saw a 29% decline; Pulteney/ North Terrace, a 28% decline.

The 3% decline should be seen in the context of a broader decline in the numbers of visitors (shoppers, employees, students etc.) to the CBD.  The following two graphs present the impact of the Covid pandemic on visitor numbers in the first half of the past three years.  They have been drawn from a May, 2021 report to the Adelaide City Council, using data from sensors installed by the Council.

 

Figure 1: Visitors detected, early 2019, 2020 and 2021

 

Figure 2: Daytime (6am to 6pm) visitors detected on Tuesdays for the first three months of 2019, 2020 and 2021

The second graph totals the numbers of visitors to the city on the Tuesdays of the first three months of 2019, 2020 and 2021.  The 2020 figure (green) is 3.4% below the 2019 figure (red).  The 2021 figure (mauve) is 7.7% below the 2019 figure and 4.5% below the 2020 figure.  Note however that this presents the situation for all Tuesdays over first three months.  Figure 1 indicates that the situation varied a lot over the early part of the year and also that at the time of the Super Tuesday count (the beginning of March) numbers visiting the CBD in 2020 and 2021 were about the same.

The presentation to Council does not indicate the location of the sensors.  We have noted above the big drop in cyclists counted at then northern end of Pulteney Street.  We suspect that the fall in numbers on the university campuses has fallen much more than overall visitor numbers, noting that the University of Adelaide campus was recently closed for a week to save money – an unprecedented experience.  Unfortunately however, we do not have figures on the numbers of students on campus.

Female cycling

Despite the decline in the number of overall cyclists at comparable intersections, the number of female cyclists at comparable intersections actually rose by 5%.

Female cycling has increased over the history of the Super Tuesday counts, from percentages in the low 20s a decade ago, to the mid 20s in recent years. This year the proportion of cyclists who were female was 27%, the highest ever recorded and significantly higher than the 24% recorded in 2020.  48 of the 91 cyclists counted at the Hughes Street/ James Congdon intersection in Mile End were female – only the second time a majority of female cyclists has been recorded.  15 locations saw at least 30% female cyclists.  These are presented in Table 1.

Table 1: Locations with at least 30% female cycling

LOCATION TOTAL FEMALE % FEMALE
Hughes St/ Sir James Congdon Drive 91 48 53%
Park Tce/ Hawker St / War Memorial Drive 76 32 42%
Clifton St/ Lower Portrush Rd (Maylands) 57 22 39%
RTLP under Montefiore Rd bridge 322 122 38%
Richmond St/ Torrens St (Hackney) 150 54 36%
Westside Bikeway/ South Road 68 23 34%
Morphett St/ South Terrace 129 43 33%
Frome Rd/ Victoria Drive 359 114 32%
Frome Bikeway / Angas St 291 91 31%
West Tce/ Glover Av. 288 87 30%
Frome Bikeway/ Halifax St 338 102 30%
Pulteney St/ North Terrace 143 43 30%
Morphett. St/ Franklin. St 232 69 30%
Pulteney St/ South Tce 380 113 30%
Osmond Tce/ William St (Norwood) 152 45 30%

Counterflow cycling

A third trend of interest was the increase in “counterflow” cycling – people riding away from the CBD.  In fact some of those locations that saw increases would have recorded decreases if it were not for counterflow cycling: Pulteney/ South Terrace and Morphett/ South Terrace, for example.  An increase in the numbers riding away from the CBD was a common feature of this year’s count.  In some cases the increases were very large, but always off low bases.

A possible explanation of this phenomenon is City residents having the opportunity to get some exercise because they are working from home.

This pattern did not just apply to the City locations.  Beulah Road in Norwood saw a significant increase in counterflow cycling, as did The Parade, Porter Street, Grant Avenue, and (to a lesser extent) the Outer Harbor Greenway, Phillips Street and the western end of Greenhill Road at Anzac Highway.

This pattern was not seen at the Tollgate (where slightly more were riding toward the City and slightly fewer to the hills).  If it is City residents getting exercise, they are not getting that much exercise!

Pedestrian counts

Bike Adelaide is happy to help Walking SA obtain data on people walking.  Particularly at quiet locations, our volunteers were kind enough to also keep a record of how many pedestrians passed through the location.

This year pedestrians were counted at 35 locations, a big increase on the 14 counted in 2020.  10 of the 35 were also counted in 2020, enabling us to identify trends.

All but one of the 10 locations saw an increase compared with 2021.  The total increase at the 10 locations was 17%.

One explanation for this might be the increase in walking for exercise that was encouraged by the Covid lockdown.  But it should also be noted that, with one or two exceptions, pedestrians were not counted in the CBD itself – there are just too many of them to be counted and in any case counts at these locations probably measure the popularity of the CBD rather than the popularity of walking.  By excluding the big intersections that saw a decline in cycling, we perhaps have a more skewed picture of the relative trends in both modes.

 

 

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