Software to Analyze Bicycle and Pedestrian Count Data

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

In recent years, communities have seen an increasing number of people walking and riding bicycles for both recreational and business (e.g., biking to work) purposes.  In addition local, regional, State and/or Federal funding programs are increasingly looking at linking funding to Complete Streets considerations, that is, streets “designed and operated to enable safe access for all users.”

The latest FHWA Traffic Monitoring Guide (TMG) even includes a new section providing guidance for agencies on reporting non-motorized count station and count data for input into national databases, including the Travel Monitoring Analysis System (TMAS).

In order to better understand trends in walking and bicycling activity, and satisfy Federal reporting requirements, local transportation agencies need a system that enables them to objectively and consistently measure, analyze, and report on the volume of these users along trails, sidewalks, and roads.

Many agencies around the country are already implementing non-motorized transportation data management systems.  For example, Central Lane Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) in Oregon “is in the process of upgrading its analytical tools for bicycle-related transportation planning and recently began a comprehensive regional bicycle count program” according to their 2015 UPWP.  They have also “initiated a Regional Bicycle Count Program to collect bike counts in three seasons.” The City of Arlington, VA “continues to … implement ‘Complete Streets’ projects, bicycle and pedestrian counting technology and wayfinding signage.” Recently, the Marin County, CA “Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Program has kicked into high gear, with many new facilities currently under construction including new bike lanes.” Marin County has been collecting bicycle volume counts since 2006.

MS2’s cloud-based NMDS allows users to query multiple station attributes
MS2’s cloud-based NMDS allows users to query multiple station attributes

As non-motorized routes increase in popularity and use, city planners and engineers need to improve the way they manage, map, and analyze the growth of bicycle and pedestrian volume counts.  For low-volume sampling, software in the data collection hardware may suffice to store and analyze bicycle and pedestrian counts.  But as the number of count stations in a region increases, the amount of data also increases, and managing the data using the basic collection hardware becomes impractical and more powerful analytical and mapping tools are required.

Ann Arbor, Michigan-based MS2’s Transportation Data Management System (TDMS) is a market-leading, web-based, cloud-hosted software solution, currently in use by several State Departments of Transportation, and dozens of Cities, Counties, MPOs, and COGs.  The MS2 Non-Motorized Database System (NMDS) module provides analysts, planners, and engineers with a powerful tool to manage, analyze, visualize, and report on non-motorized bicycle and pedestrian volume count data.  The NMDS displays count station locations on an interactive Google map providing one-click access to station data including: peak AM and PM volumes, Average Daily Traffic, annual adjustment factors, long-term trends, and more.  The software provides users with multiple reports that can be used to satisfy Federal reporting requirements and to distribute key data findings to stakeholders both within and outside of the organization.  As a web-based solution, agency data can be easily shared with the public via a standard web browser.  And, since the MS2 solution is a worry-free cloud-hosted application, agencies avoid the hassle and overhead of hosting, maintaining, and managing their own IT infrastructure for non-motorized count data.

An interactive map allows the user to quickly access station data.
An interactive map allows the user to quickly access station data.

As more and more residents turn to walking and bicycles for health benefits and as modes of transportation, city planners and engineers need a better, more powerful, way to analyze volume data. MS2’s software allows analysts to better understand bicycle and pedestrian route choices, thus aiding in decisions on where to improve or expand facilities given scarce public resources.  MS2’s Non-Motorized Database System empowers agencies to make better data-driven decisions.

For more information, please contact Lev Wood at (734-995-0200 or 

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