You are what you measure

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Counting traffic

Seattle-90

2-3 pm May 15 on the Fremont Bridge, Seattle Washington.

A friend likes to say, you are what you measure. She also typically attaches a warning to it, “so be careful.”

If we only measure cars, we will only get cars. Instead, what else can we measure?

The instant feedback counter (above) in Seattle went mainly unnoticed by daily commuters, but a high number of people, both people on foot and on bike (it only counts the latter) did take notice; they smiled when the count went up…then up again.

40 second clip of rush hour

I never made it down to the bridge at midnight to check the final number. My guess is it approaches 6,000.

For the record, on my ten-day trip to Seattle and Vancouver I spent a lot of time walking, a bit on bike, some critical connections made by bus, and some necessary car riding, mostly to visit a friend outside of the city, but also a taxi or two.

  • Walk: 53 miles *
  • Bike: 56 miles
  • Bus: 202 miles (Includes ride from Seattle to Vancouver)
  • Car: 81 miles
  • Train: 165 miles  (Includes ride from Vancouver to Seattle)
  • Ferry: 12 miles

* An equation needs to be developed for walking miles in major urban centers vs. more rural settings. For each mile walked in a city, there are so many offerings for the senses, interactions, opportunities, and general input that one mile in the city is easily equal to one and half miles, if not more. It’s a thought. Anyone have a better exchange rate? 

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Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are that of the author and do not represent the opinions of writers previously published here or any of the organizations, committees, commissions or other affiliation the authors may belong to, unless so stated.

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