When talking about things like the risks of cycling, you often see silly statements like “California is the second most dangerous state for cycling.” We honestly don’t know how dangerous or safe cycling is, however, because we don’t know how many bikes are on the road.
The lack of pedestrian and bicycle volume data is a barrier to transportation agency efforts to plan more effective facilities and to improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Three years ago, the U.S. Federal Highway Administration included a recommendation to include “non-motorists” when measuring traffic in it’s Traffic Monitoring Guide. In 2014, the Transportation Research Board published their “Guidebook on Pedestrian and Bicycle Volume Data Collection” to help agencies count cyclists and pedestrians.
Yesterday, the FHWA announced a pilot program to install bike-counting equipment, evaluate the available technologies, and develop best practices for collecting the data.
As part of this pilot, ten different Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO) will receive automated bicycle counting equipment from the Federal DOT beginning this spring. Each of these agencies will also receive technical support from FHWA and the Pedestrian Bicycle Information Center.
The ten regions receiving this equipment:
- Providence Metropolitan Planning Organization (Providence, Rhode Island)
- Greater Buffalo-Niagara Regional Transportation Council (Buffalo, New York)
- Richmond Regional Transportation Planning Organization (Richmond, Virginia)
- Puerto Rico Metropolitan Planning Organization (San Juan, Puerto Rico)
- Palm Beach Metropolitan Planning Organization (Palm Beach County, Florida)
- Fresno Council of Governments (Fresno, California)
- Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization (Indianapolis, Indiana)
- Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments (Cincinnati, Ohio)
- South-East Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
- Memphis Metropolitan Planning Organization (Memphis, Tennessee)
FHWA says the pilot will conclude early next year.
Besides generating data that can be used to more accurately gauge risk, agencies can also use the data to analyze the effects of new infrastructure on pedestrian and bicycle activity, and to create better models for transportation networks and traffic volume.
Read more at DOT Fastlane Blog: When it comes to Bike-Ped data, you can count on FHWA.