Philadelphia is counting bicyclists with new tech embedded in the street

A bicyclist rides over a new bicycle counter embedded under the surface of Center City bike lane. (DVRPC)

A bicyclist rides over a new bicycle counter embedded under the surface of Center City bike lane. (DVRPC)

Philadelphia has installed permanent bicycle use counters along two heavily used Center City bike lanes.

While various planning agencies occasionally deploy temporary use counters across the city, officials announced on Friday that the new, first-of-their-kind counters had been embedded in the surface of Spruce and Pine, near 12th Street. Both streets host crosstown bike lanes.

“Unlike the other permanent counters on our region’s trails, these in-street counters are the first of their kind in a bike lane on a city street,” said Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission executive director Barry Seymour. “This is a great new source of data because we’re able to monitor the levels of biking on each street, 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.”

The new counters were a joint project of DVRPC and the city’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure & Sustainability. The in-street counters were installed by the city’s Streets Department.

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Officials said there had been a recent increase in bike ridership, likely due to COVID-19 restrictions driving more residents toward outdoor activities. Christopher Puchalsky, policy director at OTIS said they would help improve accuracy of usage estimates and guide future projects.

“The data from these counters will help…better understand trends in transportation cycling and also improve the usefulness of the short term counts,” he said, in a prepared statement. “Good data is a necessary condition for both project prioritization and project selection.”

DVRPC will share related data from the new counters on their website.

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