Implementing Bicycle and Pedestrian Traffic Counts and Data Collection

Principal Investigator(s):

Greg Lindsey, Professor, Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Project summary:

This research was one in a series of three Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) projects to foster non-motorized traffic monitoring. The objectives were to install and validate permanent automated sensors, use portable sensors for short duration counts, develop models for extrapolating counts, and integrate continuous counts into MnDOT traffic monitoring databases. Commercially available sensors, including inductive loops, integrated inductive loops and passive infrared, pneumatic tubes, and radio beams, were installed both as permanent monitor sites and used for short-duration counts at a variety of locations in cities, suburbs, and small towns across Minnesota. All sensors tested in the study produced reasonably accurate measures of bicycle and pedestrian traffic. Most sensors undercounted because of their inability to distinguish and count bicyclists or pedestrians passing simultaneously. Accuracy varied with technology, care and configuration of deployment, maintenance, and analytic methods. Bicycle and pedestrian traffic volumes varied greatly across locations, with highest volumes being on multiuse trails in urban areas. Federal Highway Adminisration (FHWA) protocols were used to estimate annual average daily traffic and miles traveled on an 80-mile, multiuse trail network in Minneapolis. Project findings were incorporated in a new MnDOT guidance document, "DRAFT Bicycle and Pedestrian Data Collection Manual," used in statewide training workshops. A major challenge in implementing bicycle and pedestrian traffic monitoring is data management. Years will be required to institutionalize bicycle and pedestrian traffic successfully.

Project details:

  • Project number: 2013077
  • Start date: 04/2013
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Planning and Economy
  • Topics: Bicycling, Pedestrian