Bicycle Coalition of Philly gets tech assist for annual survey

John Boyle

John Boyle

An annual street-level survey of how many people bike in Philadelphia is getting a technology upgrade.


Volunteers and staffers from the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia head out each fall to street corners around the city. They count cyclists, and take note of details such as who’s wearing a helmet and going in the right direction.

In the past, they were armed with pen and paper. This year, they’ve got a new tool.

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“So we’re here at the corner of 15th and Spruce, and approaching the corner is a female cyclist, riding with traffic, wearing a helmet … enter that,” said John Boyle, the coalition’s research director.

Boyle shows off a new app that automatically sends the information from his phone to an online database.

A glitch slows down the process, but when the app is working correctly, the new system will shave off the dozens of hours normally needed for manual data entry.

Code for Philly, a volunteer team of self-described web geeks, has spent the past year working on the tool.

The final tallies of the survey help influence public policy, including the location of future bike lanes, Boyle said.

“We are using this data to help paint a clearer picture of what people are doing in this city,” he said.

Code for Philly will share the app for free with other groups.

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