Countless Masses: The Number of Commuting Bikers Remains a Mystery

How bad did things get during last week's Great BART Strike of 2013? So bad, the Los Angeles Times reported, that a put-upon commuter named Wayne Phillips was forced to pilot his yacht to work.

This may explain why you saw so many more yachts tethered up in your building's yacht parking area.

All kidding aside, you may well have seen more bikes in the bike parking area. You can't cycle to the city from Pittsburg. But you can bike to downtown from near Balboa Park and Glen Park stations with relative ease and from the Mission with great ease. But how about some hard data? What does the much-ballyhooed Visible Bike Counter on Market Street reveal?

Alas, as with BART employees last week, the Visible Bike Counter is not working.

Municipal Transportation Agency spokesman Paul Rose reveals that the counter, christened with much fanfare on Bike to Work Day May 9, is offline. It was disabled due to the late June repaving of Market Street — the most visible ramification of which is new cycling infrastructure.

So, in short, the Visible Bike Counter is not there to tell us how many people are using that new cycling infrastructure or how many people pedaled to work in lieu of BART. It hasn't generated any data since being yanked offline after a scant 30 riders sped by early on June 5. The city hopes to have it up and running by the end of July.

Counting the bike-counters, the Market Street device is one of 19 in the city. But real-time bike traffic analysis isn't possible, as 17 of those counters don't generate instantly accessible data. Their most recent numbers hail from April.

There is one other up-to-the-minute counter in town, however, on the westbound side of Fell, at Scott. Its data reveal the Monday, July 1, and Tuesday, July 2, counts during the strike were notably higher than any Monday or Tuesday of the past 30 days. So there's that. Wednesday, July 3, however, was not a particularly high count. And, when you think about it, someone headed west on Fell isn't on a path to any location serviced by BART.

If BART employees in the near future return to the picket lines, perhaps the Market Street Visible Bike Counter will be online to reveal cycling trends. In the meantime, we eagerly await the data from the city's Visible Yacht Counter.

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