Salt Lake City recently participated in a national effort to document the use of bicycle facilities on city streets.
Salt Lake City has collected some data that will be available for engineers planning improvements to city streets and intersections. The Institute of Transportation Engineers Pedestrian and Bicycle Council and Alta Planning co-sponsor the yearly National Bike/Ped Documentation Project to provide local and national data showing how transportation facilities are used by cyclists.
According to the project website, “without accurate and consistent demand and usage figures, it is difficult to measure the positive benefits of investments in these modes…This nationwide effort provides consistent model of data collection and ongoing data for use by planners, governments, and bicycle and pedestrian professionals.”
Evelyn Tuddenham, UDOT’s Bicycle/Pedestrian coordinator says UDOT will conduct similar counts in the future. “Until you do the research, you really don’t know” if, when or how facilities are being used.
Andrew Coffey, Political Science Major at the University of Utah, coordinated the effort for Salt Lake City. He usually spends time studying international conflict and domestic politics. His internship with the Hinckley Institute of Politics offered something completely different – a chance to count cyclists.
Coffey coordinated a bike count, modeled after accepted ITE methods for documenting vehicle usage, starting on August 23. “I was immediately handed the bicycle count project that day,” says Coffey. Coffey worked with Becka Roolf, Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator for the Salt Lake City Transportation Division.
The all volunteer effort took place during four days in August on selected intersections. Coffey solicited from and got great support from the cycling community. Results of the count will be released soon at an event held to thank volunteers for helping.
Coffey enjoyed his project. “Cycling can truly be an alternative method of commuting within the Salt Lake Valley, he says. “Even if you don’t ride your bike as your primary method of transportation, it is good to see that Salt Lake City strives to provide great facilities for bicycle riding.”
As he watched traffic and cyclists, he was troubled by the lack of helmet use among cyclists. He also noticed that like motorists, cyclists don’t always know the rules of the road. One thing that surprised him – there are a lot of, and many kinds of cyclists. “From the most casual recreational rider to the daily commuter there is a large population that rides.”