In September 2019, GObike and a crew of dedicated volunteers conducted bicycle and pedestrian counts. Included is a summary of our findings.

Regular bicycle and pedestrian counts are crucial transportation data. In street design considerations, if you’re not counted, you don’t count.

Counting bicyclists and pedestrians allows communities to understand where people are currently walking and biking, and where they are avoiding. Conducting counts allows biking and walking pattern changes to emerge and demonstrate how street design influences bicycle and pedestrian volumes. Data enables informed conversations between community members, advocates, and elected officials.

While scattered bicycle and pedestrian counts currently exist in the Buffalo-Niagara region, there is no regular count program. To fill this gap, in 2019, GObike organized a volunteer bicycle and pedestrian counting program using National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project count methodology. Volunteers dispersed across the region to assigned locations, and, following national methodology, counted people biking and walking on sidewalks, streets, and trails.

Thanks to our volunteers, we have first-year estimates (baseline) for the volume of people walking and biking each day at 40 locations around the region, from South Buffalo to Lewiston.

According to our data:

  • The most popular biking spots are the Shoreline Trail (Niawanda Park), LaSalle Park, Elmwood Avenue, and the Tonawanda Rail Trail.
  • The greatest pedestrian volumes were observed on Elmwood Avenue (North of Breckenridge), Allen Street (East of Mariner Street), and Bidwell Parkway.
  • Many more men than women bike. On average, women make up just 22% of the average observed bicycle traffic. In comparison, we recorded an average of 45% observed female pedestrians.
  • Some existing bike lanes aren’t working so well. On South Park Avenue and Fillmore Avenue, which both have dedicated bicycle lanes, more than 60% of bicyclists observed were riding on the sidewalk.
  • Wrong-way riding is common on some streets, such as Broadway and South Park avenues. Either people don’t know they should be riding with traffic or they feel safer riding towards traffic.

This report is the first step in building a robust system of regional bicycle and pedestrian counting and allows us to talk to community members, agency partners, and elected officials about improving comfort and safety for people biking and walking. We can ask questions such as: Why aren’t more women riding bikes? Why are so many people riding on the sidewalk in some locations? How can we use our data to make this region safer for all road users? By counting again in 2020, we can start to answer these questions, build a bigger data pool, and make the case for installed counters to collect continuous, year-round data.

Read the full report here.