Methodologies for Counting Bicyclists and Pedestrians in Minnesota: An Integrated Approach to Measuring and Modeling Non-motorized Traffic

Principal Investigator(s):

Greg Lindsey, Professor, Humphrey School of Public Affairs


  • Jason Cao, Professor , Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Project summary:

Information about the use of nonmotorized infrastructure is needed to facilitate planning and improve management of transportation systems. The purpose of this project was to develop methodologies for monitoring nonmotorized traffic in Minnesota. The project included an inventory of bicycle and pedestrian monitoring programs; development of guidance for manual field counts; pilot field counts in 43 Minnesota communities; and analyses of automated, continuous motorized counts from locations in Minneapolis. The analyses showed that hourly, daily, and monthly patterns are comparable despite variation in volumes and that adjustment factors can be used to extrapolate short-term counts and estimate annual traffic. The project technical advisory panel made five recommendations: (1) The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) should continue and institutionalize coordination of annual statewide manual bicycle and pedestrian counts; (2) MnDOT should improve methods for reporting results of field counts and explore web-based programs for data reporting and analysis; (3) MnDOT should lead efforts to deploy and demonstrate the feasibility of new automated technologies for bicycle and pedestrian counting, focusing on new technologies not presently used in Minnesota; (4) MnDOT should begin integration of nonmotorized traffic counts from existing automated continuous counters in Minneapolis into its new databases for vehicular traffic monitoring data; and (5) MnDOT should work with local governments and explore institutional arrangements for establishing a network of permanent, automated continuous monitoring sites across the state and for sharing and deploying new technologies for short-duration monitoring to generate traffic counts that provide a more comprehensive understanding of spatial variation in nonmotorized traffic volumes.

Project details:

  • Project number: 2012006
  • Start date: 10/2011
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Transportation Safety and Traffic Flow
  • Topics: Bicycling, Pedestrian