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3 October 2016
Bicycle count data to improve infrastructure in Brisbane
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The story of Eco-Counter’s collaboration with Brisbane City Council Active Transport, the first Australian Council customer of the company. Providing accurate pedestrian and bicycle count data to the organization since 2009.

Organization in charge: Brisbane City Council (Active Transport)

Size: 2.2 million inhabitants

Installed counters: 46 bicycle and pedestrian counters in total, including ZELT, Multi, & Pyro sensors.

Active transportation policy within local context

Brisbane is the third biggest city of Australia, with 2.5 million inhabitants. The city of Brisbane  is one council area, on the contrary to Sydney and Melbourne, which are divided into multiple council areas. It is thus easier to develop active transportation policies, as there is only one body which takes the final decision. This reason can perhaps partially explain why, according to many users, the bicycle infrastructure network has seen such a big expansion since 2009. This push in bicycle infrastructure can be observed through the increase in size (length & width of bicycle paths) and also type of infrastructure (segregated). More specifically, local authorities implemented 3-meter-wide bicycle tracks. As well as dual carriageways which are becoming increasingly common.

Project history

This collaboration started with a purchase of 3 counters. And it has now expanded to 46 counters comprising of a mix of bicycle counters, MULTIs (able to distinguish between bicycle and pedestrian) and Urban Posts. While 46 counters already constitute a wide network, BCC Active is still expanding this network, by the  addition of an average of 5 more counters each year. And 2016 is not an exception to this rule!

On top of that, BCC active is complimenting this quantitative data collection program with a manual counting held on a regular Tuesday in October. The Super Tuesday counts add valuable qualitative data in the areas of  gender split, age reason for riding, and other qualitative factors.

With support from our local distributor, the team at Brisbane City Council has been able to ensure a great continuity in counting program, keeping a record of bicycle counts since 2009, even when the  BCC Active Transport team has changed.

Why count?

At first, the City Council used bicycle count data to justify one-off infrastructure improvements. But bicycle and pedestrian counters have slowly become a general standard practice to be installed on every new section dedicated to active transportation.

Between 2012-16 Council spent $120 million as part of its Better Bikeways 4 Brisbane program. For example, in 2016, the City Council spent 10M$ finalizing the “Bicentennial bikeway”, a $38.16 million project which started in 2009. The council equipped this brand new section (upgrade from the CBD to Toowong) with a MULTI to understand usage patterns of new riders.

Both for short and long-term objectives, count data is used to identify where bicycle lanes are needed, and where bicycle users ride the most in Brisbane. This includes both bicycle-only infrastructure and shared path. Brisbane City Council used the data to monitor cyclist and pedestrian activity on major projects e.g. the Bicentennial Bikeway. It is also used in conjunction with other data sources like survey’s to better understand cycling and walking in Brisbane.

For example, the Brisbane City Council used the MULTI sensor to advocate for truly segregated cycle paths, with a clear separation between bicycle and pedestrian zones.

Data usage

BCC Active shares  bicycle count data with the Australian Departement of Transportation, Queensland regional authorities and the Bicycle User Group. At the moment, not so much with the public. If you want to know more on communication with the public, this article might come in handy.

For analysis purposes, Active Transportation officers are looking at the data on a daily basis. Data analyst for the Department of Transportation are also accessing the bicycle count data to identify monthly trends in combination with statistics on other modes of transport to produce a comprehensive user mix in official reports.

>> More info on our bicycle and pedestrian counter for urban environments

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