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Biking on the rise? Count on It!

Heat map

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.

Heat map of Lamar

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.

Grand Junction area roads and trails seeing lots of bicycles


Dan Grunig

About the Author: Dan Grunig

Dan directs our organization’s efforts. Transportation and land use policies are his specialty. Gaining equal rights for people who bike is his passion. He loves Colorado because every part of the state is an amazing place to visit and ride. He commutes to work on his bike and rides the roads and trails for fun.


Rick Barron - Reply

Hi Dan

Just a comment and opinion. My wife and I spend a lot of bicycle time on the Pike’s Peak Greenway bicycle trail. What we have learned about many bicyclists in the Springs is they would really like to see trails like this to be extended and/or many more like this one. Because safety is paramount when enjoying a bicycle ride MANY of us from very young to elderly truly need to stay away from the very fast and busy roadways in our beautiful city. Just a thought that I would love to hear feedback from you concerning.

Thanks ever so much for the opportunity to contact you!


Rick Barron

Dan Grunig - Reply

Off-street bicycle paths are an important piece of a community’s bicycle network. They often follow rivers and greenways to create a wonderful riding experience. The tricky part comes when trying to get from a greenway to a store, work, or school located on a busy street. That’s why a combination of off-street trails with good on-street accommodations can lead to huge increases in bicycling. Bicycle boulevards on neighborhood streets, protected bike lines on busy streets and green lanes create an easy-to-use system for everyone from children to seniors.

When I reviewed these Strava maps, it was no surprise to see community bike paths are some of the most ridden routes it the state!


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