Australia’s largest visual bike count

Man seated on camp stool counting bikes

Make it count: Super Tuesday collects data to help councils plan bike infrastructure.

Did you happen to be out on the road Tuesday morning on your bike between 7.00am and 9.00am riding around the streets and paths of City of Greater Bendigo? If you were then there is a fair chance you added to the Super Tuesday statistical data being collected on cycling movement’s right across Australia but more importantly this our City of Greater Bendigo.

Bicycle Victoria with their motto of “more people cycling more often” are a wonderful advocate and organizer of the collection of important and up to date statistical data for all interested parties to draw from.

The annual Super Tuesday bike count first took place in 2007 and comprised a bike count in four inner Melbourne local government areas. In 2008, the count expanded to include 13 metro and regional local Government areas in Victoria. In 2009 Super Tuesday took place outside of Victoria for the first time and this year, the fourth year of the count, the event has seen participation from municipalities in all six states.

Of the 33 participants in 2010, 20 were new to the event and 13 had been involved in previous years.
Super Tuesday 2010 observed and recorded rider numbers and movements at a total of around 900 sites across the country and engaged with over 100 local riding groups, schools and other clubs and community groups to recruit people to act as counters on the day.

2011 sees the program the biggest visual bike count yet, with 47 municipalities participating across Australia at more than 1100 sites. More than a thousand bright orange T shirt clad bike counters were on streets to mark cycling commuting process. Locally the main base of counters were volunteers from the Friends of the Bendigo to Kilmore Rail Trail and members from the Bendigo Cycling Community doing a magnificent job at collecting the data that is used to plan future bike networks in our city. The City of Greater Bendigo can hold their head high and deserve full credit for their commitment to developing bike facilities based on sound data and analysis collected over the past 3 years or so.

Local Government welcomes Super Tuesday for a wide range of reasons:

  1. The data on bicycle commuting collected and analysed in the count allows those providing for bike riding to base their judgements on accurate, relevant and up to date information.
  2. The count has established an achievable, efficient low cost solution to put data in the hands of decisions makers in Local Government.
  3. Without current, accurate data, council professionals, even with the best intentions, are guessing and can easily get it wrong.
  4. Super Tuesday is a relatively low cost tool – approximately one-third of the cost of commercial data collection.
  5. Local Governments receive the data on rider numbers and movements in a number of forms – Web-based – Hard copy report – Spreadsheets of data
  6. Super Tuesday is collaborative with other municipalities:  The count adopts a collegiate approach enabling council officers to view rider flows across Local Government boundaries – Participation in the count enables each municipality to get a bigger picture result and is able to see regional answers.
  7. Community engagement – The Bicycle Network recruits people to work as counters on a volunteer basis.  Funds flow back into the community, to local riding groups and schools and other groups.

The Super Tuesday count for Bendigo in 2010 highlights were the following site

  • The intersection of McIvor Highway and Mitchell Street was the busiest count site, with a total of 76 riders.
  • The Bendigo Creek Trail is a significant commuter route in Bendigo, with the two count sites on this route recording 54 and 39 riders.

It seems very evident that the commuting population is increasing and we already know how strong the recreational community is at large across Bendigo.

Looking back at the 2010 count across Australia for many sites for which comparative data existed showed increases of 20%. This natural increase in rider numbers is due to systemic reasons (and not just infrastructure improvements) as more people see the health, economic and environmental benefits of riding.

We as cyclists don’t need a count to make us aware of the benefits of cycling but certainly any means by which it can be clearly demonstrated to the decision makers and authorities that there is an increasing number of cyclists joining the ranks yearly and their safety on the road and paths is a reality that has to be considered in any planning phase.

Looking forward to seeing you on the road soon God willing.

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