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Meet Our ‘Bikes Count’ Data Competition Winners

How can even the smallest amount of data make a big impact on people riding bikes in your community? This summer, we asked folks to give us their best answers to this question by once again partnering with our friends at Eco-Counter to host the second-annual ‘Bikes Count’ Data Competition

Bicycle Friendly America (BFA) program participants and advocacy organizations were encouraged to submit their bike data – whatever state it was in: whether it was manual counts of people biking to work or GPS traces, we welcomed it! Now, our winners will receive expert analysis and optimization of their data from Eco-Counter’s data services team, including custom branded infographics, graphs, social media cards and other data communication tools, plus training on best practices for analyzing and communicating bike data. 

We’re proud to announce the winners of this year’s ‘Bikes Count’ Data Competition: Lincoln-Lancaster County Planning Department, our BFA participant awardee, and two advocacy organization awardees Madison Bikes and Bike Fitchburg, Inc. Each of these applications was hand-picked by data experts and members of the League team — and we can’t wait to see them and their data continue to make an impact in the biking community and get more people moving. 

“We were provided with an impressive array of different data sources across all submissions, varying from manual counts to trail survey data.,” said Catherine Fralich, data analyst at Eco-Counter. “We ultimately selected Lincoln County Planning Department, Madison Bikes and Bike Fitchburg Inc. as winners, not only for their data, but also for their goals and objectives that aligned well with our data analysis capabilities at Eco-Counter.”

This fall, you’ll learn more about our winners through the League’s blog and a webinar featuring the winners and Eco-Counter’s data experts, but for today, here’s an introduction. 

Lincoln-Lancaster County Planning Department

Lincoln-Lancaster County Planning Department is located in the Silver-level Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) of Lincoln, Nebraska. The staff runs the trail counts program, maintains online resources for biking, including the existing and proposed bike facilities map, assists with the implementation of the Lincoln Bike Plan and coordinates the Complete Streets committee.

Lincoln has been collecting pedestrian and bicycle count data since the first of now six permanent counters was installed in 2014, however, despite many years of data collection, they have yet been able to analyze this data in a meaningful way and communicate the results to the public. Their goal is to use this invaluable opportunity to help them develop a better system for managing and validating counts, develop communication materials to educate and garner support for more bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and make decisions about these facilities that reflect an equitable approach. 

Madison Bikes

Madison Bikes is an all-volunteer non-profit bike advocacy group located in Madison, Wisconsin. The city has a relatively extensive network of counters, but that data is not readily available to the public, and city staff lacks the time and resources to analyze and communicate the data. Madison Bikes has undertaken a few targeted manual counts in support of specific advocacy projects (i.e. using bike/ped counts to argue for the continuation of COVID-related road closures) but mostly relies on the city’s network of bike counters. 

Data from the two counters have been used to communicate trends in biking to the public and the city and for practical purposes such as identifying peak traffic times for scheduling events or, early in the pandemic, identifying times when the bike paths could be used without crowding.

Bike Fitchburg

As the local all-volunteer bicycle advocacy group for Fitchburg, Wisconsin, a suburb of Madison, Bike Fitchburg works with the mayor, council, and city staff, as well as partners across the region including Madison Bikes and the City of Madison, to make biking and walking easier, safer, and more fun. They hope to use its manual counts and infrared counter data to get a bigger picture of bicycle traffic through one of Fitchburg’s busiest areas — the Capital City Trail eastbound leg of the Velo UnderRound. 

“We know that achieving Gold Bicycle Friendly Community status will depend on documented mode share. Members of our business community, which have embraced our identity as a BFC, are also interested in our progress to justify their attention to and investment in biking. For these reasons, we are grateful to the League and Eco-Counter for this opportunity to show that ‘Bikes Count!’”

With this joint award for two neighboring advocacy organizations, Madison Bikes and Bike Fitchburg, Eco-Counter’s data experts plan to use Madison’s automated count data to help put Fitchburg’s manual count data into context – one of many ways that regional partners can collaborate to aid bike advocacy and planning efforts! 

Want a peek at our winners’ results? Join us on October 26, 2022 at 3pm ET for a webinar to see the results in depth and learn from data experts. 

Register for the webinar!

Last summer, Eco-Counter supported the first-ever ‘Bikes Count’ Data Competition winners, the City of Charlottesville, Virginia, and advocacy organization Treasure Valley Cycling Alliance (TVCA), in getting the most out of their cycling data and using those insights for better biking in their community. Those insights were also presented in a two-part webinar series. 

Quick Takeaways On Data Collection From Last Year’s Winners

  • It’s better to capture trends over an extended amount of time i.e. 2 weeks to 6 months to 12 months to 24 months. Doing so can justify an expansion of community bicycle improvements or help you understand where to focus efforts.
  • Take into account events that will affect counts like festivals, covid-19, weather, etc. Carefully noting events and weather patterns will allow you to better understand data anomalies when comparing across time periods. 
  • Distinguish areas of high traffic. Know where your busiest areas of cycling traffic are. Can’t afford to put automated counters at multiple intersections? Form a volunteer manual count group and have your group split up into different intersection sites. TVCA counts bikes twice a year through its volunteer bike count data program.
  • Sharing the results of your bike data can help justify investments in biking in your community, university, or business. It’s also another way to engage the community and demonstrate the value of active transportation facilities.

Who knows what we’ll learn from the 2022 ‘Bikes Count’ Data Competition winners? Register to attend our free data reveal webinar and stay tuned for more!