Bike counters to tally number of cyclists

Paul Downie of Sustrans monitors sensors at Middle Meadow Walk. Picture: Neil Hanna

Paul Downie of Sustrans monitors sensors at Middle Meadow Walk. Picture: Neil Hanna

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DIGITAL cycling counters are to be installed on two of the city’s busiest bike routes in a Scottish first.

Already widely used in Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen, right, the devices will be put on Middle Meadow Walk and the Union Canal at Edinburgh Quay, and will show a live LCD bicycle tally that will constantly update as bikes pass the device’s sensors.

People will be able to go online to keep track of cycling numbers, with tallies to be updated daily on the Sustrans and city council’s websites. Seven other
locations across Scotland will get the machines, with three to go in Glasgow and one each in Stirling, Inverness, Perth and Benderloch.

A master digital totem pole will also be installed outside the Scottish Government’s Victoria Quay office in Leith that will display counts from all the devices.

The counters will be installed by Christmas, and the £250,000 project has been applauded by sustainable transport groups and the council, with claims that the figures provided would help to justify any increased spending on cycling projects and 
infrastructure.

Sustrans community links project officer Paul Downie said: “Cycle counters have been used to great effect in a number of European countries and research shows that they can serve as promotional tools to encourage people to cycle on a daily basis.

“In the future, we will have accurate data on the number of cyclists using the nine different routes that have been selected, which will make transport planning easier.

“We hope that the first nine cycle counters will prove to be highly successful and that the Scottish Government will consider rolling out these installations to other locations throughout the country.”

Sensor loops in the ground connected to the new counters only pick up the wheels on bicycles, not pedestrians or other traffic such as cars.

However, the devices can be adjusted to also count pedestrians if needed.

Funding for the counters has come from the Scottish Government, with Danish cycle counter company Falco supplying and installing the innovative devices.

Ian Maxwell, from cycle campaign group Spokes, said the city’s north-east cycle path network was another series of bike routes that could benefit from a digital counter.

He said: “We’ve heard stories of people from Copenhagen cycling past one more time to get it up to a number – not that we want people to cycle up and down just to boost the numbers.

“However, any public display that promotes the idea that cycling is growing is
welcome.”

CCTV cameras or other security measures are not expected to be installed to make sure the counters are used correctly.

The council is aiming to have 15 per cent of all commuter journeys in the Capital made by bike by 2020.

City cycling spokesman Jim Orr said: “They are a visible statement of our commitment to making Edinburgh a more cycle-friendly city.

“Every time someone decides to leave the car at home and take the bike, we all benefit due to better air quality, reduced wear and tear on the roads and reduced congestion.”

dale.miller@edinburghnews.com