Fresno to get money to count bicycles and pedestrians

This is a couple of weeks old, but I’ve fallen behind in posting again (work, and then sick). Fear not, there are plenty of posts in the draft box.

The US Department of Transportation has announced that they will sprinkle money around the country to help count bicycles and pedestrians. This is important because transportation funding is always data oriented, and without data, there’s no possibility for funds.

That is, if we want more funding for people walking and biking, we need to know how many people do it! You may have heard stats like “less than 1% of people bike” for example, but these statistics are purely related to journey to work. As the press release points out:

Among other items, Beyond Traffic highlights the increased activity
of bicyclists and pedestrians on and near America’s roads. Beyond
Traffic notes that cycling and foot traffic currently accounts for
roughly half of all trips taken that are under a mile, and more than 10
percent of all trips of any length
.  You can imagine how those numbers
might change over the next three decades as our population grows and our
urban areas get increasingly dense.

That is, the general commute data from the mail surveys people occasionally get tells us nothing about how many people are actually walking and biking in certain places. For example, if everyone who works on the Fulton Mall drives to a garage, and then walks three blocks, the pedestrian count is zero.

To find out the real numbers, you need manual (or machine) counts, not surveys.

In addition to the equipment, each recipient will receive technical
support from FHWA and the Pedestrian Bicycle Information Center. These
ten MPOs will begin work this spring, engage in a range of counting
activities throughout the summer and fall, provide early experiences and
initial data by December, and complete the pilot early next year:

  • Providence , RI
  • Buffalo, NY
  • Richmond, VA
  • San Juan, PR
  • Palm Beach, FL
  • Fresno, CA
  • Indianapolis, IN
  • Cincinnati, OH
  • Milwaukee, WI
  • Memphis, TN

The money is going to COGS, which is the area planning organization. That means the project is not limited to the city of Fresno, but the entire Metro area (essentially the County). 

Exact locations haven’t been decided yet, but I would put money on some of the following being strong candidates

  • Fresno-Clovis Rail Trail
  • Van Ness or Fulton Corridor
  • Olive Avenue in Tower
  • Fulton Mall
  • Eaton Trail

Anywhere I’m missing that would provide valuable information?

The data will be helpful to the region and the city. And hopefully, the data can then be used to find grants for improvements.

Incidentally, COGS is hiring for a Travel Demand Modeler position, if you feel so qualified. Details (PDF)

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