Biking on the rise? Count on It!
Traditional traffic counting systems only track the number of motorized vehicles. Of course this method leaves out a significant portion of people using public roads. Some roads may see 10%, 15%, 20% or more trips taken by people walking and biking.
There is a wise saying that we can’t manage what we don’t measure. Counting the number of people walking and biking in Colorado is steadily increasing but has a long way to go to reach equal attention given to motor vehicles.
New to the counting marketplace are systems that utilize personal GPS units on bikes and in smart phones and watches. Instead of doing a traditional spot count in one location, this technology tracks the entire trip and the route traveled. Check out this “heat map” of Colorado non-motorized trips produced by Strava and their users.
The brighter lines show where more people are using the route. This is fascinating data that I think can help dispel common myths that we don’t need bike lanes, shoulders or sidewalks because there isn’t anyone biking or walking there.
I love seeing hot spots of activity in places on the eastern plans like around Lamar! And look at the usage of all the county roads and trails around Grand Junction on the map below.
Of course this single data source is not representative of all bicyclists and pedestrians, but you can see how new data streams like these begin to better show where, when and how people use road and trails. It also may help show neighborhoods where more bike lanes and sidewalks are needed due to the absence of people being able to choose to bike or walk.
Including data on how all people use public roads is vital to giving planners and engineers the tools to design roadways that are safe and attractive to all.