- The current “bike friendly” city measurements and rankings are largely based on heavily flawed and inaccurate bike commuting data.
- Bike commuting data does not represent actual biking levels in cities like Detroit where a majority of workers travel to the suburbs for their jobs.
- Relying on bike commuting data ignores the majority of other bicycle trips made within cities.
- Other Detroit data sources can be a more accurate measure of bicycle friendliness.
We’ve been working with the Detroit Office of Sustainability on how bicycling, walking, micro-mobility, bike lanes and greenways fit within their planning efforts. They want to measure Detroit’s progress in these areas. Initially they’d suggesting using ratings from national bicycling organizations, but those are highly inaccurate and rate Detroit poorly. Those ratings clearly do not reflect the reality of Detroit’s diverse bicycle culture that includes the largest weekly bike ride, the most bike clubs, and the second largest protected bike lane network in the U.S. This article explains why these ratings don’t work and provides better data options for measuring progress.
Measuring Detroit’s “Bike Friendliness”
There is no U.S. standard for measuring the bike friendliness of the city. One could expect the number of people bicycling in a city to be a good reflection of its bike friendliness. However, such data does not exist.
Despite this, many national organizations receive grant and private funding to rate U.S. city bicycle friendliness. They rely on heavily flawed data that impacts Detroit’s measure to a much greater extent than other cities.