The Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho has a new tool in its toolbox: bicycle and pedestrian counters.
Comparable to the counters used to record vehicle traffic on roadways, these counters will tally bike and pedestrian traffic on pathways.
Information collected from the counters will be used to help COMPASS, cities, counties and other agencies do a better job of planning regional and local bicycle and pedestrian needs.
“We have a lot of anecdotal information on bicycle and pedestrian use that we will soon be able to confirm — or deny — with this new data. The more we understand, the better we can plan,” said COMPASS Assistant Planner Tom Laws in a news release.
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Crews will install the first counter on Wilson Creek Pathway in Nampa on Tuesday morning.
Additional counters will be installed over the next month at 12 other locations on or near bike and pedestrian pathways in Boise, Caldwell, Eagle, Garden City, Kuna and Meridian.
In addition to the permanent counters, which will focus on dedicated biking and walking paths, COMPASS also has portable bicycle/pedestrian counters which can be temporarily installed on trails, roads and intersections.
The counters, the first of its kind in Idaho, will provide information on the number of bicyclists and pedestrians using certain routes and the days of week and times of day they are using them.
“This information will help us understand not only how many people are using pathways, but also how different pathways are being used,” said Laws. “For example, high usage during ‘rush hour’ tells us that the route is used by commuters; high use on weekends tells us that the route is being used for recreation.”
COMPASS has been able to analyze the “supply” side of bicycle and pedestrian facilities in Ada and Canyon counties, but not the “demand” side, explained Laws.
“We can map existing bike lanes, paths, and sidewalks, and measure the characteristics that make them more or less appealing for biking and walking,” explains Laws. “This new data will help us examine the ‘demand’ side of the equation. We’ll be able to determine if people are using existing sidewalks, bike lanes, and bike paths, or if they using other routes that we haven’t anticipated.”