New technology improves bike and pedestrian counts
The Cape Cod Commission is employing new technology to provide a broader picture of pedestrian and bicycle use of our roadways and shared-use paths.
In 2022, the Commission acquired ten Eco Visio PYRO-Box Eco-Counters (eco-counters) that use an infrared sensor to detect when users pass in front of the counter. The sensor detects heat (a person) and counts it as it passes the sensor. These small, lightweight counters are reliable and accurate for tracking pedestrian and bicyclist use. Counters can stay out in the field in one place for weeks at a time or can easily be moved to new locations.
The infrared sensors count any source of heat that passes in front of them. In most cases, this is a person who is walking, running, or biking past the counter. Sometimes, the counter will detect a large dog (technically a pathway user), but these instances are rare, and the data can largely be assumed to be that of pedestrians and bicyclists who have passed by the counter.
In the past, Commission staff conducted pedestrian and bicyclist counts by stationing themselves at a location and manually counting any biker or walker that passed by. This method is still used in many scenarios when more detailed data is needed. The new eco counters allow data to be collected on a broader area and more frequently than manual counts, and counters can be efficiently relocated to support a range of data collection activities and events.
Supporting a shared-use path on new canal bridges
Four counters are in place around or near the Cape Cod Canal bike paths. Data collected indicates the number of non-motorists in the area that could benefit from the new bridges having a shared-use path.
Counting pedestrian traffic in downtown Chatham
The Commission is currently conducting a parking and utilization study in downtown Chatham. In addition to numerous manual counts and observations, an eco-counter is in place on Main Street between Library Lane and Cross Street. This summer, it has detected an average of 5,500 non-motorists per day. To validate that data, staff conducted a manual count and, in just two hours, logged 1,300 pedestrians.
Understanding use of a new crosswalk in Falmouth
A counter located in Falmouth at a newly installed crosswalk and pedestrian hybrid beacon connecting the Shining Sea Bikeway to Goodwill Park is logging nearly 80 crossings per day. The high number of users shows the crosswalk and beacon installation benefit the community.
Supporting safety upgrades in Orleans and Eastham
Counters can be deployed at locations currently under design to help towns and MassDOT make informed decisions when designing pedestrian or bicyclist improvements. A counter located near the Orleans/Eastham Rotary gathers non-motorist data to support a safety upgrade project that is in design by MassDOT. The counter is collecting data at the only marked crossing currently at this rotary to understand walking and bicycling patterns in the area. Since deployment, the counter has collected an average of 41 non-motorists per day.
Tracking year-round rail trail use
Four counters have collected over a year’s worth of data on the region’s rail trails. Data collected shows a significant increase in use on good-weather days, when school gets out and when summer begins. Usage peaks on the weekends and dips mid-week and on rainy days. While the numbers dip during the off-season, they show that the year-round population uses the rail trail all year, even in winter.
Data gathered by these new counters shows the breadth of non-motorist activity across the region. Collecting this data can help to support projects to improve accommodations for pedestrians and bicyclists.