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Bicycle and Pedestrian Counting Study

Recently, I spent a couple hours collecting bicycle and pedestrian data for the city of Somerville. This is the second time they’ve done this study. The first was back in April, when 35 locations were observed during morning and evening rush hours. Read about the results in the Boston Globe.

I tallied people passing through two sections of Beacon Street, and I couldn’t believe the traffic! It makes sense, because it’s a wide road, with bike lanes most of the way.

163 bicyclists in an hour!

I found this especially interesting because I’m taking a Program Evaluation class this semester. This data collection instrument is nice and simple, but at the same time it would be easy for a collector to miscount while trying to keep track of four directions of traffic. (Once I had 16 people walk through at the same moment.) If the city wanted completely accurate statistics, they could record the intersections on video and then have two separate people tally the results. Of course, that would be far more expensive, and since this study is relying on volunteers, I’m assuming it must not be well funded. This is definitely good enough for a quick and dirty method. However, if I were conducting the study, I would probably want more training of the volunteers and maybe simplify the forms to only include pedestrians and bicyclists.

I’ll be interested to hear how they apply the results.

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