THE ALASKA EXPERIENCE
|Infrared counters used in Anchorage, Alaska|
Ooms also worked with the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) to develop Report 797; the “Guidebook on Pedestrian and Bicycle Volume Data Collection”. The report revealed several challenges involving collecting non-motorized vehicle data. Pedestrians and cyclists are a lot closer together, whereas motor vehicles tend to stick within their lanes and are further apart. Pedestrians and cyclists are fewer in North American cities and are more sensitive to external conditions; resulting in variability of up to 40%! The report walked through how to establish pedestrian and cycling count programs, different technologies, and case studies in various cities.
|Eco-Counter booth at the Winter Cycling Congress|
|Jean-François Rheault of Eco-Counter|
IS STRAVA RELEVANT?
|Alex de Vries of Citizens for Safe Cycling|
|Strava heat map focused on Ottawa|
TORONTO’S CURRENT SITUATION
Toronto doesn’t have any permanent bike counters nor counter displays; instead conducting temporary counts with pneumatic tubes. Per Toronto’s Open Data system, only five to ten locations annually get bicycle counts with the last large scale count done in 2010. Like in Fairbanks, Toronto uses Miovision cameras to track bicycle counts on Bloor Street; itself subject to rigorous collection of other metrics. (see graphic below) Preliminary data was released on February 24, 2017 to inform operational improvements; stating a 36% increase in cyclists and 63% of motorists claiming increased comfort driving next to cyclists. The next evaluation will happen in June, though an extension may be needed for more reliable data.
Toronto’s Cycling Unit should learn from cities like Anchorage, Montréal, and Ottawa by installing permanent bicycle counters. They should also look at different technologies such as infrared or maybe even adapt overhead detection at College and Shaw to count bicycles?
UPDATE (2017/03/24) - This piece has been reposted to Dandyhorse.
 Calculated as the number of Strava trips divided by Eco-Counter trips