On the afternoons of Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of this week Trailnet volunteers and staff have hit the roads to… sit.
Bike/pedestrian counters are in their stylish green t-shirts (below) at 43 locations throughout St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and St. Charles County, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., finding out where people are biking and walking. And where they’re not. The data they gather will be used to inform local decisions about bicycle and pedestrian networks. It will also be added to a national database of statistics, and will help to refine bike/ped forecasting.
The information we collect and record through these counts, which is being done in partnership with Great Rivers Greenway, is essential for so many reasons. Some of you may remember receiving an American Community Survey (the form that replaced the long form census) that asked about how you commuted, and gave you the chance to identify biking or walking. But it didn’t ask you if you walked or rode your bike for other reasons, and that represents more than half of all trips! Counts are a way to capture trips for all purposes.
Counters are also on the lookout for cyclists on sidewalks and cyclists riding against traffic. These numbers will be taken into consideration when decisions about education campaigns are made.
The home page of the National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project explains it best: one of the greatest challenges facing the bicycle and pedestrian field is the lack of documentation on usage and demand. Without accurate and consistent demand and usage figures, it is difficult to measure the positive benefits of investments in these modes, especially when compared to the other transportation modes such as the private automobile. This nationwide count provides a consistent model of data collection and regularly updated data for use by planners, governments, and bicycle and pedestrian professionals.
When the data is compiled we will run another blog post announcing the results.
I applaud Trailnet’s many volunteers and staff who stepped up eagerly to sit down and be a part of this important work. Thank you.
And something to keep in mind – these counts are annual and will probably be expanded in 2013. Please be on the lookout next year at this time to volunteer to help collect and record this necessary information.
Ann Rivers Mack