IN THE FIELD – Automatic Bike Counting in Cottesloe
Cottesloe is an iconic beach community in the city of Perth, Western Australia. With a long history of vehicle monitoring using MetroCount tube counters, the council has recently turned its eye to automatic bike counting with the Portable Bike Counter.
We caught up with David Lappan, Engineering Assistant, to discover how bike data fits into the council’s plans. With a passion for road engineering and as a cycling commuter, David was happy to talk about the council’s efforts to improve multi-modal transport options within the community.
What is your experience with MetroCount systems?
It’s been roughly 9 years since I started working with the MC equipment. Currently, we have a number MetroCount portable vehicle counters, most of which are dedicated to the regular monitoring programme, and one that is used for responding to community concerns. We usually cover the whole townsite using tubes, including the main arterial roads around it, within a year. Each counter collects data from a site for two weeks, enough for us to get a virtual week of data.
What types of data do you normally look for?
Most of the time we analyse traffic volumes, but sometimes we’re dealing with incidents, and the police asking for speeds at specific locations. In this situation, we generally send speed reports in the form of Excel spreadsheets or text files. Traffic volume and classification data makes a big difference in the thickness of the asphalt or spray seals that we are putting down and also the size of the aggregates.
Traffic volume and classification data makes a big difference in the thickness of the asphalt or spray seals that we are putting down and also the size of the aggregates.
How does cycling data fit into the equation?
We’ve had the bike counters here since November and I’ve been checking them and downloading data every 4 weeks. This is the first time we’ve used an automatic bike counter, previously we only used to do manual counts for 1-2 hours.
I’ve been surprised by the number of bikes compared to cars. We’re looking at about 7.5% of on-road traffic along Marine Parade. Also, a lot of professional bike riders use this route so we’re getting 85th percentile speeds around 31-32 km/h on the road while the adjacent shared path has much slower speeds around 17km/h.
Do you plan to extend your bike monitoring locations?
I know there are a few other cycle routes along Forrest Street or Curtin Avenue that we don’t currently monitor, so we’d like to get some counts along there. We’re covering our main areas, but we’d like to know more about the overall cycling network.
What areas of the current cycling infrastructure are you hoping to improve?
We have had interactions between cyclists and pedestrians at crossings and when people are getting out of their cars and not seeing cyclists. A dedicated cycle path would help to reduce these interactions. Our plan is to try and include some sort of cycle lane, but how we are going to do that is another issue. We’ve also got about 4km of concrete dual use path along the beach and, as you can tell, it’s pretty tricky to ride over it.
Are you confident you’ll obtain the budget you require for these changes?
Hopefully, the increasing volume of cyclists will strengthen our grant applications.
Is it fair to say that the Town of Cottesloe is putting an increased emphasis on bike infrastructure?
The way everything is going in Perth at the moment, it looks like we’re set for an increase in bikes. Cottesloe is currently working on a 5-year Bike Plan. The ability to collect accurate data over extended periods of time with the new bike counters, which wasn’t previously possible, will help us to determine areas we need to focus on. Cottesloe Council is carbon neutral, so we encourage our staff to use sustainable transport which includes bikes. I think if we continue to improve infrastructure, we’ll see more and more people out on their bikes using it.
Cottesloe is currently working on a 5-year Bike Plan. The ability to collect accurate data over extended periods of time with the new bike counters, which wasn’t previously possible, will help us to determine areas we need to focus on.