How many people commute by bike and what roads or routes are they taking to get there? These are two questions that will be answered with bike counts planned for Tuesday, September 11th through Thursday, September 13th. Counts will also be done on Saturday, September 15th to capture weekend recreational riders. The Ada Bike Alliance, an all-volunteer group of bicycle advocates, heads the effort and provides the Ada County Highway District (ACHD) with the valuable bike count information.
At least 75 volunteers are needed for the counts, which are done each year in the spring and fall. Volunteers are stationed at key intersections and roadways, known to be used by bike commuters and in locations where bike improvement projects are about to begin or were recently completed. In the past, counts have been done in Garden City, Star, Boise and Meridian. Bicyclists will be counted during a two-hour period during the morning or evening commute.
Data from the seasonal counts helps ACHD to determine what existing bike facilities are being used and where bike improvements may be needed. Earlier this summer, ACHD implemented a pilot program that installed green-colored bike lanes and shared lane markings – counts will be done where improvements were made to gauge use by cyclists. "Tracking use of recent bike improvements is important – we want to know how the shared lane markings and green bike lanes are being used by cyclists. This will help determine where future bike improvement projects should be done in the county," said ACHD Commissioner Carol McKee. Counting bikes prior to a project provides a baseline before improvements are made.
"It is essential to count (cyclists) repeatedly and regularly. With each iteration the entire dataset takes on more clarity and gains value for everyone. It requires persistence, patience, and the ongoing support of a large pool of volunteers," said Rick Overton with the Ada Bike Alliance.
This year volunteers will place a special focus on the Broadway Bridge, both sides of the Greenbelt, access points near the western terminus of the paved Greenbelt in Garden City, and locations of the newly installed pavement markings.
Volunteers are needed
The number of locations to be counted in September will be determined by the number of volunteers. Volunteers are usually stationed at locations near their home or place of work during the three-hour commitment. Those wishing to help with the bike counts can sign up through the Ada Bike Alliance web site, http://adabikecount.wordpress.com/2012/08/01/fall-2012-volunteer-signup-in-now-open/. Volunteers will be asked to attend a brief training session either in person or online in preparation for the counts.
More information on biking
Currently there are 220 miles of on-street bike lanes on Ada County roads. Recent additions include bike lanes at the Pine and Linder intersection the soon-to-be complete Cloverdale and Ustick intersection and the adjacent Cloverdale, Duane to Campton road project.
Bike counts are available on the ACHD web site, www.achdidaho.org under the Bicycles Page. Fall bike counts are anticipated to be available in late October and will be posted to the ACHD web site.