Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Counting bicyclists, for fun and civic duty

by Michelle Stenzel

As Chicago embarks on the process of creating a network of upgraded bicycling infrastructure heretofore unseen in North America through the Streets for Cycling 2020 Plan, it will be absolutely crucial to document data, in order to track the increase in numbers of people bicycling. So, we need to know who is bicycling currently, how many, and where. To obtain the voluminous data, the Chicago Department of Transportation staff relies partially on citizens to volunteer a few hours of time to count bicyclists at designated locations.
You'll be busy if you're assigned to count bicyclists on the Lake Front Trail.
(Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)

They're currently looking for volunteers for any one of three separate two-hours shifts during the last week of June (see flier below for details). 

I can tell you from experience that you don't need any prior knowledge, it's easy, it's fun, and people will like you! These people include nice strangers who stop to ask questions and chat, as well as friendly CDOT staffers, who are fellow bicyclists, and who thank you profusely, even though the task is easy!

What's really gratifying is looking at the CDOT web page with results from past counts.

Here's a map of the locations where bicyclists were counted in September 2011:

And here's a litte of the data that was gathered, in the form of highest count locations:

It's great to see that more than 4,600 bicyclists were counted at just 20 locations during the evening rush hours. Thousands of people at just 20 spots! Can you imagine what the numbers will be in another year or two, once safer lanes are installed? It will be exciting to follow.

In the mean time, pitch in with us! Bike Walk Lincoln Park Co-Chair Michael Reynolds will be out there. I'll be working the evening shift on June 26, and I'm hoping to be assigned Kinzie again. If you see me, ring your bell!

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