The US Department of Transportation has announced that they will sprinkle money around the country to help count bicycles and pedestrians. This is important because transportation funding is always data oriented, and without data, there's no possibility for funds.
That is, if we want more funding for people walking and biking, we need to know how many people do it! You may have heard stats like "less than 1% of people bike" for example, but these statistics are purely related to journey to work. As the press release points out:
Among other items, Beyond Traffic highlights the increased activity of bicyclists and pedestrians on and near America’s roads. Beyond Traffic notes that cycling and foot traffic currently accounts for roughly half of all trips taken that are under a mile, and more than 10 percent of all trips of any length. You can imagine how those numbers might change over the next three decades as our population grows and our urban areas get increasingly dense.That is, the general commute data from the mail surveys people occasionally get tells us nothing about how many people are actually walking and biking in certain places. For example, if everyone who works on the Fulton Mall drives to a garage, and then walks three blocks, the pedestrian count is zero.
To find out the real numbers, you need manual (or machine) counts, not surveys.
In addition to the equipment, each recipient will receive technical support from FHWA and the Pedestrian Bicycle Information Center. These ten MPOs will begin work this spring, engage in a range of counting activities throughout the summer and fall, provide early experiences and initial data by December, and complete the pilot early next year:
- Providence , RI
- Buffalo, NY
- Richmond, VA
- San Juan, PR
- Palm Beach, FL
- Fresno, CA
- Indianapolis, IN
- Cincinnati, OH
- Milwaukee, WI
- Memphis, TN
Exact locations haven't been decided yet, but I would put money on some of the following being strong candidates
- Fresno-Clovis Rail Trail
- Van Ness or Fulton Corridor
- Olive Avenue in Tower
- Fulton Mall
- Eaton Trail
The data will be helpful to the region and the city. And hopefully, the data can then be used to find grants for improvements.
Incidentally, COGS is hiring for a Travel Demand Modeler position, if you feel so qualified. Details (PDF)