News & Politics

Bike to Work Day 2016, By the Numbers

Photograph via iStock.

Last Friday brought a rare bit of sunny weather to Washington just in time for Bike to Work Day, the annual celebration of commuting on two wheels. But while some may forgo a car, train, or bus to celebrate, Bike to Work Day is just like any other weekday for many. Cycling is on the rise across Washington, and may become even more popular with the upcoming Metro maintenance.

How did this year’s Bike to Work Day look across some of the region’s most popular routes? Automatic bike counters installed by the District Department of Transportation and Arlington County that collect real-time data on foot and bike traffic give an idea. The chart below compares the number of bike rides for this year’s Bike to Work Day to average weekday ridership so far in May and last year’s Bike to Work Day.

Bike counts for average May weekday to date and Bike to Work Day 2015 and 2016

This year’s Bike to Work Day was a success across the region. There were more rides than last year at nearly all bike-count locations. After weeks of rain, a sunny day and the Bike to Work Day festivities—like snacks and free T-shirts—brought out many more cyclists than an average weekday this month. Most locations saw 250 percent more cyclists on Friday compared to the average May weekday. Virginia had the largest gains; with the Custis Trail near 20th Street N logging four times as many bike rides as usual. In DC, Fifteenth Street NW was the only location to have fewer Bike to Work Day riders than last year, possibly due to the demolition of the Washington Post’s old headquarters that has caused the cycle track to be diverted and narrowed for two blocks. Conversely, it also has the most bikes on an average May weekday and received the smallest bump from Bike to Work Day.

As may be expected for Bike to Work Day, and most weekdays generally, the greatest number of bike rides occur during rush hours. Most locations peaked between 8 and 9 AM, with a slightly lower peak between 5 and 6 PM.

Hourly bike counts for Bike to Work Day 2016

Interested in learning more about or making a DIY bike counter? Code for DC is currently building and testing out bike counters to install throughout the District.

Technical notes: Data are available at and collected by DDOT and Arlington County. You can find complete code for this post on my GitHub page.