Bike Data Supports Community in Onkaparinga

Tour Down Under in Onkaparinga

In this interview Andrew Queisser shares with us how the City of Onkaparinga’s bike data is supporting the local community.

The detailed data is used to inform infrastructure upgrades, which in turn encourages cycling and active transport. Together with place-making and way-finding efforts, this increases spending at local businesses.

Bike Data That Supports The Community

Onkaparinga is famous for stage 6 of the Tour Down Under (TDU), where cyclists from around the world compete to reach the top of grueling Willunga Hill in as little as 7 minutes!

Onkaparinga’s experience-based Trails and Cycling Strategic Management Plan connects the city with a broad cycle network.

It also strives to provide Tour-Down-Under-style, on and off-road cycling experiences. These are designed to encourage bike tourists and locals to stay longer, ride more and therefore generate increased revenue in the area.

Let’s chat with Andrew, Asset Plannet for City Operations at the City of Onkaparinga, to find out more!

Why did you start monitoring your bike lanes and shared paths?

Permanent Bike Data Collection device in Onkaparinga

Prior to installation of the bike counters, we had limited, localised real cycling data.

Research suggests that the major barriers to cycling is perceived safety issues and a lack of appropriate infrastructure.

So we wanted to get an idea of cycling demand, understand what sorts of cyclists used our infrastructure and identify any gaps in the cycling network.

Once we started collecting bike data, it enabled us to focus limited resources on key areas and support network expansion and renewal.

We’ve also used the cycling data as part of external infrastructure funding grants.

How do you gather your bike data?

Portable Bike Data Collection device in Onkaparinga

We have 6 permanent cycle data collection sites that give us information on cycling and pedestrian  movements. The data enables us to assess time of day along with speed and direction statistics.

The permanent counters are installed on our shared path network and give us an understanding of seasonal patterns and general growth trends.

We also have 5 portable bike counters with remote access. These are usually placed on dedicated, on-road bike lanes and help us better understand the MAMiL demand (Middle Aged Man in Lycra).

We have also used the portable counters to gather before and after information on specific projects. They are a valuable asset and we’ve used the data collected to apply for black spot funding to improve infrastructure in those areas.

Bike Data That Supports Local Community
Bike survey sites throughout the City of Onkaparinga

Have you noticed a difference in who uses your shared paths vs. bike lanes?

Our research identified a mix in cycling groups seeking different experiences. These comprise of leisure cyclists, including families, who utilise our 118kms of off-road shared paths. Then there’s recreational/sport cyclists and commuters who ride on our dedicated bike lanes and on-road cycling networks.

Bike Data That Supports Local Community

From census data we already knew that only 0.3% of our 170,000 population commute by bike.

This is lower than the state average – arguably due to being a spread-out city and removed from Adelaide.

This, combined with other research, suggested that allocating investments towards off-road shared paths and key on-road links would be most beneficial.

Our focus has been on completing the gaps in our off-road shared path network and improving way-finding – as this will support our local community.

We also recognise visitors associated with events such as the Tour Down Under, and have improved way-finding signage along key on-road cycling routes targeted specifically to them.

Since implementing the strategy have you seen a change in your bike data?

The data has enabled us to have a greater understanding of user demand. When installing our first counter, we estimated it might record 20,000 cycling passes per annum. That counter recorded over 64,000 cycling passes in the first year and each year thereafter.

During the month of January alone, it records over 10,000 bike passes, mainly due to the Tour Down Under. We also notice spikes of up to 1,800 passes in a day that coincides with other large cycling events such as Fleurieu Fondo (Amy’s ride), a local event to raise awareness of sharing the road.

The data has also helped us identify dual weekday peaks associated with school and worker commuting groups in the morning and afternoon.

To have that type of data has enabled stronger advocacy for cycling infrastructure. It has also helped us advocate the inclusion of cycling in areas such as tourism and place making.

Bike Data That Supports Local Community

Who do you share your bike data with?

Every quarter we send out the raw and summarised data we get from MetroCount to our:

  • road design department,
  • road network department,
  • community asset department
  • and projects areas.

We also share data with the State Road Authority, the Department of Planing Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI). This included providing a mix of raw and summarised data to them prior to the Main South Road duplication development.

We occasionally share summarised bike data with community groups and to better inform Elected members. Especially after the publication of news articles like this one; it stated that cycling numbers dropped by 20% in South Australia.

We used our collected bike data to illustrate that this was not the case for Ongkaparinga and that cycling here has actually been on a steady increase.

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