If you think counting sheep will put you to sleep, then Pittsburgh officials are hoping that counting cyclists and pedestrians will invigorate you.
The Department of City Planning is holding two-hour volunteer counting sessions at 36 intersections across the city for their second annual CountPGH event. For three separate sessions taking place next week, volunteers will be stationed at designated intersections to count the number of cyclists riding by and the number of pedestrians walking by.
A post on Pittsburgh’s Bike and Pedestrian Facebook page highlights the need for these counting days: “This is incredibly important. These numbers help us plan new bike/ped investments and also help us show that our efforts to construct better biking and walking facilities are making a difference throughout the city.”
Last year, more than 70 volunteers participated in the count, and this year the city is anticipating more. Anyone new to CountPGH must attend a pre-count training session on May 9 at 6 p.m. at a to-be-announced location Downtown. Those interested can sign up at pghbikeandped.ivolunteer.com/countpgh2016
. A similar count will also take place this fall.
Counting sessions are the following:
Tue., May 10, 7 a.m.-9 a.m.
Tue., May 10, 4 p.m.-6 p.m.
Sat., May 14, 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
And even more counting has recently started. The bike counters on the Downtown Penn Avenue protected bike lane were reinstalled two weeks ago and have already recorded thousands of rides (more than 530 trips per day so far). The counters are maintained by public-private partnership organization Envision Downtown, and the data blog for the counters can be accessed here
These numbers run contrary to some loud voices critical to bike growth in the city. At a recent meeting in the North Side where the city announced the installation of new bike lanes on a small section of Federal and East street
s, some residents spoke in oppositions saying they didn’t believe enough people rode bikes to warrant a bike lane.
Many of the same residents also believed the city was funneling too much money into bike-infrastructure projects. However, the city’s Bike and Pedestrian coordinator Kristin Saunders informed residents at the meeting that while bike commuters make up 2 percent of the Pittsburgh’s population (and some surveys have that number higher
), the city only dedicates 1.2 percent of the its capital budget to bike-infrastructure projects.
Laura Thomas, a North Side resident, spoke at the meeting and summed up Pittsburgh's growing bike culture: “The city is changing, and younger people don't want to drive cars. A new population is coming to Pittsburgh, and we have to figure into that new population.”