BB’s DCF Post, 8.23.16: More Cycling Data Collection Fun

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Note: It isn’t all about bike lanes anymore. Or at least it doesn’t have to be. Here’s the BetterBurque does Duke City Fix post for this week. Throw BB an email if you’re interested in either/both proposals below.

 

We’re continuing to measure all Duke City bike lanes, yet that’s just the potential beginning of a ever-widening data collection spree involving bicycles, pedestrians and you. Here are two other proposals that can most definitely involve you, DCF reader, as well as your friends, acquaintances and colleagues around town.

Data Collection Proposal #1: Duke City Participation in the National Documentation Project

Even more frustrating than our lack of knowledge regarding width of ABQ bike lanes is our lack of knowledge regarding how many cyclists and pedestrians are on our roads. The lack of data results in a number (see what I did there?) of infuriating conversations like this one:

Me: We want better bike lanes on Candelaria.

Traffic Engineer Person: Well, how many cyclists use Candelaria now?

Me: I don’t know.

Traffic Engineer Person: Then why should be provide better bike lanes?

Such conversations often involve other wrinkles, such as

Me: I know not many people ride Gibson because it’s dangerous and the bike lanes are old and poorly marked.

Traffic Engineer Person: But nobody rides Gibson, so why should we bother restriping the lanes?

Me: But people would if it were more safely striped.

Traffic Engineer Person: Do you have any pre/post striping counts of riders on other roads that have been restriped to make them safer?

Me: No.

Traffic Engineer Person: (rolls eyes and walks away)

The bike/ped count dilemma exists just about everywhere and is why the National Documentation Project was created. It’s quite simple: You place a bunch of volunteers at pre-selected street corners and they spend the day(s) counting how many cyclists and pedestrians go by.

Period.

I hear from others in the cycling community that ABQ participated in the effort a few years ago, but I was busy teaching 8th Grade back then. I ran across the national Project only recently when I noticed Fort Collins will be conducting a big volunteer bike/ped count next month. One click lead to another and I now know such counts happen twice a year.

It’s not posted on the Project webpage, but it would appear that, after next month’s count, the next national count will be in mid-May of 2017.  Personally, I’d like to see it moved up in Burque to late April, a bit further from “Bike to Work Day,” and during UNM’s term instead of just after it’s finished. I can certainly be coaxed into another way of thinking by anyone willing to volunteer themselves and 50 of their friends, acquaintances and colleagues to the effort.

Ergo, let’s participate in the National Documentation Project next Spring and help us all when talking to Traffic Designer Person. Planning toward such participation can, and should, begin today

Data Collection Proposal #2: School Bikes-on-the-Bike Rack Counting Project

I got this idea from my riding buddy John Fleck, who is the new Director of the Water Resources Program at University of New Mexico (Congrats, Professor Fleck!). John, like me, suffers from an incurable inclination to collect data and has started a daily count of bikes on the bike racks outside his Program office.

Here’s Professor Fleck’s methodology:

Step 1: Look at the bike rack.

Step 2: Count the number of bicycles on the rack.

Step 3: Note time/date.

Step 4: Keep log of entries.

John and I have discussed other variables, including weather conditions (temperature/precipitation), as well as ways to compare data for trends: time of day, day of the week, etc. As a retired K-12 teacher myself, one who used to casually do the same thing every day, but never bothered to write the numbers down, this seems a splendid Project.

Data collection can obviously be done anywhere there’s a bike rack, but I’m particularly drawn toward applying such research to schools. For example, John tells me he rode from his office to the School of Architecture and Planning today, and guess what he found there? Yup, “big numbers” of bikes.

In other words, John is calling on others to join him in a UNM-wide bikes-on-bike rack-counting effort. I’ll extend that, most certainly, to all branches of both UNM and CNM.

On a larger scale, the idea of tracking how many K-12 students, and possibly teachers/administrators, ride a bike to school has implications on a wide range of societal considerations that make up the Safe Routes to Schools Program. Increasing the number of kids who walk or ride to school involves health issues such as childhood obesity, as well as fundamental health issues, such as not getting injured or killed doing so.

Hence, bicycle counts at schools, K-12 or higher ed., helps in convincing Traffic Engineer Person and others to makes roads more safe surrounding schools, and, with so many schools, such counts could eventually lead to improved cycling safety over much of town.

Ergo, let’s start systematically counting bikes-on-bike racks ASAP. Let’s include weather conditions (precipitation and temperatures, if possible) in our simple count of bikes on the rack and time/date. 

K-12 School teachers/administrators who are interested can just begin tomorrow, Wednesday, August 24th and get about 170 days of delicious, nutritious data. University folks, and anyone else employed at a place with a *bike rack(s), is also very much encouraged to participate. 

I’d love to also count numbers of those walking to school, and such could be accomplished at many K-12 schools via teachers “on duty” prior to first bell, but such data collection is far more complicated than just looking at a stationary bike rack(s). I’m open to any and all ideas on how to make pedestrian counting as simple as possible.

Anyone interested in either/both of the Proposals above can contact me at BetterBurque, my little blog on, uh, making, eh, Burque, ummmm, Better. The same, of course, goes for the ongoing Auditing Albuquerque Bike Lane Effort (AABLE).

Thanks for your interest and possible participation in all of the data collection fun!

*Admittedly, there is the issue of employees who do not use the bike rack, instead just taking the bicycle to their office. Ideas are encouraged toward accommodating inclusion of such data.

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