Bike Michiana

resources, news, observations and ideas about bicycling in the Michiana area

Michiana bike/ped counts

Posted by Paul Taylor on August 22, 2012

Michiana has joined a national effort to collect biking and walking usage data. Volunteers are needed to maintain this effort, and make South Bend and Michiana a leader in healthful recreation and non-motorized transportation. The next count dates are Sept 11, 12 & 13.  Volunteers for one or all three dates are welcome.

One of the greatest challenges facing the bicycle and pedestrian field is the lack of documentation on usage and demand. Without accurate and consistent demand

and usage figures, it is difficult to measure the positive benefits of investments in these modes, especially when compared to the other transportation modes such as the private automobile. Millions of dollars are spent collecting traffic counts on motor vehicles, but zilch is spent on counts for non-motorized transportation.

An answer to this need for data is the National Bicycle & Pedestrian Documentation Project, co-sponsored by Alta Planning and Design and the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Pedestrian and Bicycle Council. This nationwide effort provides a consistent model of data collection and ongoing data for use by planners, governments, and bicycle and pedestrian professionals.

The basic assumptions of the methodology are that, in order to estimate existing and future bicycle and pedestrian demand and activity, agencies nationwide need to conduct counts and surveys in a consistent manner similar to those being used by ITE and other groups for motor vehicle models.  The city of South Bend, in cooperation with various area organizations, is now conducting counts to document biking and walking usage.

These Michiana counts are done by volunteers. The volunteer counter’s responsibilities are pretty simple and straightforward, but extremely important and rigid: it is most important that data collections are “accurate and consistent demand and usage figures”.

Volunteers will be pre-assigned a count site, date and time of their choosing. After a short training session, they will be given count sheets to record their observations, and will proceed to their assigned site.  After the count, they will need to deliver their count sheets to Chris Dressel (mail, fax, or pony express, whatever) and look for the e-mailed and published results after they have been assimilated.

Prospective volunteers should contact Chris Dressel ( (574) 235-5847, South Bend Bicycle Coordinator or me, Paul Taylor ( (574) 339-1882 for questions or to volunteer. Volunteers will be rewarded with the knowledge that they are increasing data on a healthy lifestyle and helping measure the positive benefits of investments in biking and walking; especially when compared to the other transportation modes such as the private automobile.

See for more background.


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