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Ride a Bike and Be Counted: Bicycle Lane Stencils Direct Riders to Data Collection

Three labeled in-ground cycle counters in Midtown provide needed info to the City of Atlanta

Published: 9/24/2019

Famous business advice says that you can't manage what you don't measure. That's true in planning, too. Earlier this month, a team of Midtown Alliance employees journeyed throughout Midtown with cans of spray paint, stenciling the words “MAKE IT COUNT” onto the pavement in bike lanes. The goal: to mark the in-ground bicycle counters so that cyclists will ride on the right spot and make sure their rides are tallied.

Each time a bicycle ride is counted, it gets added to a set of data that is used to provide the City with information to improve its transportation networks.

Through a partnership with the City of Atlanta, the team stenciled additions at 5th at Williams, 10th St Cycle track, and Peachtree St NE by St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.

“Our in-ground bike counters work best when riders cross them while traveling in the middle of bicycle lane,” Jordan Dowdy, an urban planner for the City of Atlanta. “Riding extremely close to the edge of the lane, or along the dividing line of a two-way facility, could potentially decrease the likelihood of your ride being counted.”

Making it Count

Data plays an important role in city planning, said Dowdy.

“Having baseline data from key bicycle corridors to compare across multiple years helps to identify trends in the prevalence of cycling in the City, which allows us to better plan and advocate for appropriate investments in bicycle infrastructure,” said Dowdy. 

Dowdy added that counting bicycle rides can provide helpful information about what types of bicycle infrastructure riders prefer, and on what days and at what times cyclists tend to ride.

Bicycle counters both help tell the stories of past infrastructure projects and inform new ones.

“[They] help give us a more complete picture of what infrastructure investments are receiving comparatively high or low ridership and give us some insights into possible reasons behind ridership volumes,” said Dowdy. “This, in turn, contributes to our ability to more effectively and efficiently plan future infrastructure investments.”

“In order to get accurate data, we need people to traverse these bike counters correctly,” said Forrest Rose, Transportation and Sustainability Project Manager at Midtown Alliance.

It should be noted that these bicycle counters do not count scooter rides.

Additional methods of collecting data about movement throughout a city include pedestrian counters, multi-modal cameras at intersections, and one-off traffic studies.

More on Cycling in Midtown

Midtown Transportation can provide you with a route plan to navigate a safe bicycle commute to work. Request your route plan here

Log your bike rides during the month of October through Biketober to compete and win great prizes!
 

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