Cycling Visionaries Awards – Project Details

Photographic Bicycle Counts

Photographic Bicycle Counts

Photographic bicycle counts, combines the reliability of the automated processes with the practical and low-cost practice of manual bike counts. This new method of bicycle counting was developed to respond to the needs of cyclists groups as well as civic organizations as partners in the process of local bikeway planning.

Throughout the world, bicycle counts have been incompletely and infrequently performed. Unlike the methodology for counting motor vehicles, monitoring bicycle use is still in its childhood. In addition, bicycle counts have usually been a difficult, expensive and labour-intensive task for transit authorities. From an urban policy perspective, growth in bicycle traffic is desirable, as the bicycle is the most efficient vehicle in terms of road space, parking space, fuel consumption and emissions. Increased bicycle use can reduce the need for new and expensive road infrastructure, which improves the efficiency of the overall transport system. Once cycling is supported at a policy level by local, regional and national governments, cost-effective methods of monitoring cycling activity will be needed to monitor the effectiveness of existing and future policies.
Photographic counts was developed by a Brazilian non-profit, Transporte Ativo (Active Transport), so as to create an alternative method that is easy and inexpensive and combines low cost and the flexibility of manual counts with reliability of automated counters.
Use digital cameras to take pictures. Define and study beforehand the “counting area”, where counts will be taken. All pictures are taken from the same place for each location, so make sure that you can shoot from any angle. The cyclist should always be counted if they pass the counting area even if the same cyclist passes several times. As a result, at the end of the count, the number of pictures and cyclists should coincide. It is possible to do counts with just one surveyor. However, the help of others is greatly recommended. One of the benefits that photographic counting provides is to allow you to return to the pictures whenever necessary. Make a report with photographs taken, numbers and graphics.
Transporte Ativo created photographic bicycle because someday, in a meeting, a technician from Rio municipality stated that there were no cyclists in a certain place we know were full of cyclist the whole day, even with any infrastructure. How to demonstrate to municipality the number of cyclists in that place, with credibility? Taking photos of all cyclists with date and hour stamped so they cannot say that was not true! Since then, we made a lot of reports which were very useful for city planning to base new plans and works. A manual was published originally in Portuguese and afterwards translated to Spanish and English. The manual’s topics covered include: reasons to monitor bicycle traffic, where and when to do the counts, advantages and disadvantages of both automated and manual bicycle counts. In addition, all you need to know about photographic bicycle counts: equipment, locale, counting method and technical report. Our method offers a low-cost and efficient way to monitor the flow of bicycle traffic and has already been replicated in other cities and countries. The importance is to make cyclists visible, improve the knowledge about the city and as a result support Advocacy, Social Projects, plus Research and Development.

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