UCD Data Digest for June 7, 2021

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Jun 07, 2021 11 months ago

Welcome to the June 2021 edition of the UCD Data Digest. In this series, we publish data and findings from our research on topics tied to transportation, jobs, real estate, crime, and more. We are always looking for opportunities to learn, grow, and collaborate. Email [email protected] to learn more.

After a year of focusing much of our data collection and analysis on the labor market, we are turning our attention to other topics of interest to those living and working in our neighborhood. First up is a look at how COVID-19 has impacted pedestrian, bike, and personal vehicle traffic in University City. 

One of the many changes brought on by the COVID-19 crisis was a rapid shift in how people traveled – or did not travel – as part of their day-to-day lives. Before March 2020, University City offered a rich mix of ways to get around via public transit, private vehicle, bicycle, or on foot. When the economy came to a near-total standstill last spring, traffic volumes for all modes of transportation cratered. Over the past year, signs of life have re-emerged, but traffic volumes are still significantly below pre-pandemic levels. 

 

Pedestrian Traffic:

As of mid-May, 2021, pedestrian traffic at key University City intersections remains well below pre-pandemic levels. At the formerly busy intersection of 34th and Chestnut Streets, foot traffic fell to a low of 6% of pre-COVID levels during the first weeks of the pandemic in March 2020, as students went home and many offices shut down completely. Since the summer of 2020, weekend foot traffic was noticeably higher than on weekdays – which is a change from pre-pandemic norms. By late April of 2021, pedestrian traffic at the intersection has returned to approximately 66% of its pre-pandemic levels on weekdays, with and over 85% on weekends.

 

 

 

The intersection of 40th Street and Walnut Street has followed a similar pattern. Foot traffic dropped rapidly in the spring of 2020, though to a slightly lesser extent than at 34th and Chestnut St. Weekday averages dropped to approximately 40% of pre-pandemic averages during the summer months of 2020 and began to pick back up in the fall. After a brief dip during the winter, weekday averages at the intersection are now back to around 80% of pre-pandemic levels with weekend levels hovering around 70%.

 

 

Bicycle Traffic:

Bicycle traffic into University City was the only mode of transportation that surpassed the pre-pandemic baseline for a brief time last fall. Weekend bike trips – much like weekend pedestrian trips – have seen smaller declines over the course of the pandemic, likely a result of less commuters biking to work and more leisure trips. In the spring of 2021, bike traffic is following the cyclical trend of increasing as the weather gets warmer, with both weekend and weekday trips moving back to the pre-pandemic summer levels.

 

 

Personal Vehicle Traffic:

As remote workers begin to return to their offices, there has been some concern that commuters who previously rode public transit would switch to single-occupancy vehicles, increasing car congestion on the streets. This has not happened yet, but many offices have only just started to invite workers back in person. Through the end of April, car traffic into University City District during the morning rush hour is still at approximately 60% of pre-pandemic levels.