The mystery of the Adàwe Crossing cycling numbers

I have even seen a tourist bus dropping people off...
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Gone are the days that councillor Fleury walked through the Rideau river on his way to university following a self imposed desire line. Now there is the Adàwe crossing. And it is hugely popular.

To get a better idea of its success, I took a belated look at the 2016 and 2017 data of the cycling and walking trips on the new bridge. The data is available from the City of Ottawa Open Data repository. (update: after I connected with the city about the suspicious data, it turns out the data the city provides in the spreadsheets is not correct, so I had to modify my blog from here on)

Increased Adàwe Crossing traffic

Usage of the bridge has increased from 2016 to 2017. The total number of pedestrians and cyclists grew by over 12%, which is good to see. The cycling trips grew by 10%, while walking grew by 13%. Note these are not unique users; someone might cross the bridge multiple times. Unless we bring in Chinese style tracking, we will never know the unique visitors.

Over 100 % increase?

Looking to the stats initially though, I was very surprised to see an enormous increase in the 3rd quarter of 2017 for cycling. In the third quarter of 2016 we see 153,360 movements, a year later for the same quarter it has increased to 333,673: an increase of over 100%. I thought that was weird and I asked both my readers and the City of Ottawa where this extraordinary growth came from. I also caught another error which I shared too with the City. Readers informed me there was a double count of walkers and cyclists in the cyclists column, in other words the pedestrians were counted as pedestrians and again as cyclists (blame the intern!). Meanwhile, the City asked where I got my data from (from -ahem- the City!).

Data showing 2016 and 2017 traffic on the crossing
Data showing 2016 and 2017 traffic on the crossing (data from the City of Ottawa Open Data): odd increase!

If we look at the forth quarter, the rapid growth trend continues. While the pedestrian count was a wee less in the 4th quarter of 2017 compared with the ped count of 2016, cyclists nearly tripled the numbers for that quarter.

Data error on Adàwe?

I had looked to the data a number of times, because sometimes one oversees an error based on assumptions. But I couldn’t really find an obvious data error other than that the daily counts in Q3 and Q4 were often double from the year before. It appeared a very unusual spike. And indeed, as I explained above, there was an error in totalling the data, so here is the data that the City kindly shared with me afterwards. Note Q3 2018 in the graph only runs until today, August 23, 2018 and should run until end of September.

data Adawe bridge 2016 -2017
Correct data Adàwe bridge 2016 -2017

In the first two years after the crossing opened, just over 700,000 bike trips were counted and just under 900,000 pedestrian trips. Those are encouraging numbers that show that this connection is a very welcome addition. IN Q2 and Q3 around 1500 bike trips are counted over the bridge every day, for pedestrians it is around 1500 too. If we look to the entire 2017 year, so including the winter time, cyclists come in at just over 1000 a day and pedestrians at 1300 a day.

Opening Day in 2015: it is not this busy very day though
Opening Day in late 2015: it is not this busy every day though

Read more about Ottawa’s infrastructure here.


  1. Hi Hans! Great article! Are you interested in preparing a similar article on the Adawe crossing and Overbrook area for our new Overbrook newspaper (still to be named)? First publication will be early October. Thanks for considering it!

  2. I see no reason tbere cant be induced demand when supplying additional cycling infrastructure.

    Before adawe, i avoided cycling on rideau and especially felt fearsome on the cummings bridge. My other options were not appealing, being sussex or st patrick. So i simply avoided east side destinations.

    NOW, With adawe, its easy to get to the east side of the rideau, to access beechwood ave with its bike lanes, i even attend yoga practice once a week in vanier.

    Each additional piece of cycling infrastructure is more than its own merits (and adawe has plenty of those) but its value increases exponentially as each link goes to further complete the whole network making way more destinations attractively accessable by bike and more circuits available for recreational and fitness rides.

    Adawe may be where the cycle count is taken but tbe numbers grow because of all the other incremental improvements create synergy

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