Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Bicycling

Bicycle and pedestrian traffic counts

Overview

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Franklin Ave bridge bicycle counter in Minneapolis, MN

The Minnesota Pedestrian and Bicyclist Counting Program, started in 2013, set out to build a network of automated people counters (both permanent and portable) to collect non-motorized traffic data, and develop methodology for analyzing, validating, evaluating, and managing it. The purpose of this program is to generate walking and bicycling information that can be used to inform state, regional, and local planning and engineering initiatives and to assess important transportation policies and programs such as Complete Streets and Toward Zero Deaths. This program is based on well-established principles of vehicular traffic monitoring and it is designed to be integrated with motor-vehicle monitoring programs over the long term.

As with motor-vehicle monitoring, this non-motorized program consists of continuous counters permanently installed at sites across Minnesota, and portable counters which can be borrowed and used for collecting local and regional biking and walking data. If your agency or organization is interested in borrowing the portable counters, please fill out the ‘Check Out Form’ and we’ll contact you. Upon returning the equipment, please fill out the ‘Return Form’ so we can identify what data is yours and get it to you.

For more information, email bikepedcounts.dot@state.mn.us.

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Installing a bicycle counter in Alexandria, MN

Reports and studies

  • Minnesota’s 2017 Walking and Bicycling Data Report (PDF) - The latest statewide analysis of people walking and bicycling between 2014 and 2017.
    • People biking and walking are impacted by weather and climate more than people driving motorized vehicles. Therefore, day-of-year factors have been applied to the data to account for better estimate non-motorized volumes. As a result, the following Excel files contain daily volumes collected with automated counting equipment at 22 reference sites across Minnesota for the years 2014 through 2017. The majority of the data in these files are daily volumes collected at each site, but about nine percent of the volumes were imputed. National best practices, weather data, and regression modeling was used to create the imputed volumes and replace outliers (i.e. runs of zeros and overcounts). The specific steps for imputing the data are documented on pages seven and eight of the report.
    • Bicyclist Data (Excel) - Contains bicyclist data collected by counters that use wire loops imbedded in pavement to specifically detect metal bicycle rims.
    • Pedestrian Data (Excel) - Contains pedestrian data collected by counters that use infrared sensors to detect body heat and count pedestrians.
    • All Traffic (Excel) - Contains data for ‘all traffic’ which is the sum total from each site where both people biking and people walking are counted.
  • Data collection manual (PDF) - A Minnesota-specific manual for collecting bicycle and pedestrian data
  • Economic bicycling study - A study detailing the economic impact of bicycling in Minnesota. Produced by MnDOT, Minnesota Department of Health and the University of MN.
  • The Minnesota Bicycle and Pedestrian Counting Initiative: Institutionalizing Bicycle and Pedestrian Monitoring (PDF)

Media and news

Manual counting

In 2012, MnDOT began encouraging communities around Minnesota to organize volunteers and count people walking and biking for two hours periods once or a few times a year. While useful for gathering some data and building community advocacy around walking and biking, in 2013 MnDOT decided to focus data management activities on automated rather than manual bicycle and pedestrian counts. Doing so allows for the continuous collection of non-motorized data without concern for weather, climate, or daylight. Continuous data collection can also be more easily integrated with existing procedures for motorized vehicle traffic data management and it will provide richer datasets for local governments interested in bicycle and pedestrian traffic. Regardless, manual counts are still valuable for collecting qualitative data (type of bicycle, people walking or rolling with assisted devices, skateboarders / rollerbladers, etc.), identifying and validating volumes at a site before installing automated equipment, and counting during community events where people traffic may be disperse and chaotic.

Here are some resources for standardizing a manual counting program:

Related links