Gathering bicycle and pedestrian counts is much more difficult than methods used to count cars. This information, also refereed to as “exposure data”, can assist in determining specific improvement to increase safety, targeting areas for education programs, and even referring to the data as proof of the existence of cyclist and pedestrians along our roadways.
Motor vehicle miles traveled can be calculated using rubber tube counters across roadways. These tube counters are not sensitive enough to detect cyclist and pedestrians, besides the fact that people may not bicycle in a consistent location or pedestrians would simply step over the tube. Laser counters have successfully been used to count off-raid trail users, but this technology is not effective on the road network where cycling and walking is not confined to an exact path and the presence of motor vehicles may be falsely counted.
But the information is critical to understanding where and how many people ride and walk. In an effort to capture the trends in bicycle and pedestrian activity and behavior, the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization embarked on a data collection effort in 2000. Twenty intersections were chosen with counts conducted for either eight or twelve hours. Information was noted such as whether the cyclist was wearing a helmet, where in the street people were walking or ride, their approximate age range, and the time of day they were observed. In 2005 the count data was repeated, as it will be again in 3-5 years, to be able to start seeing trends in bicycle and pedestrian activity.