Posted by: adamgilg | July 26, 2010

Count me in – visibly measuring bike traffic in Copenhagen

bike counter in Copenhagen(CC Licensed image from Spacing Magazine’s flickr stream)

As Erin O’Melinn’s recent post pointed out, cycling in Vancouver has never been easier.  The Burrard Bridge no longer threatens a foot-plus drop from the sidewalk into busy traffic, while the Dunsmuir Viaduct lane turns the former slog through Chinatown traffic into an easy jaunt straight into the heart of downtown.  While riding along the new car-free route on Dunsmuir, a cyclist will go over several sets of black cables in the road.  These are pneumatic hoses used to measure the traffic and provide valuable data for the city – the data collected for the Burrard Bridge bike lane, formerly a trial, certainly played a part in making it permanent.

These hoses (and the “wire loops fixed to the bike lanes which detect the metal wheels passing over the loops” used on the Burrard Bridge), however functional, lack some imagination.  Copenhagen, renowned as one of the world’s great cycling cities, has taken an interesting approach to counting its cyclists.  It not only measures the traffic for statistical purposes, but displays the numbers along the route using the device pictured above.  This makes for more interesting streets, particularly when compared with the utilitarian stainless steel boxes of the current Viaduct setup.  It also adds to a sense of civic and cyclist pride, encouraging riders along as their number gets added to the daily tally.  Copenhagen even ran a competition: the 500,000th rider got a free bike.

I love all the bike lanes popping up across the city, especially with the interesting barriers along Dunsmuir (plants, mid-street bike parking), but taking a lesson here from the bike-fixated Danes could only make things better.

Bicyclists Count in Copenhagen

– By Adam Gilgoff



  1. What are the cyclist stats along Dunsmuir?

  2. Not sure – it doesn’t look like the city has released the data for it yet, as they have for the Burrard Bridge lanes. I’ve sent an email asking about the data, but I can’t imagine we’ll be seeing it anytime soon. You can get the detailed Burrard statistics here:
    Certainly not as user friendly as a big counter on the side of the road, but still fun to look through and see how various events change the traffic patterns.

  3. After having been away from Vancouver through the winter and spring months, I’ve been delighted to return to see the Burrard Bridge cycle lane being well used. I love seeing cycling being encouraged and made both safer and easier through both the Dunsmuir Viaduct and the Burrard Bridge designated cycle lanes, both significant improvements to the Vancouver’s cycle routes. Visual counters would be a lovely touch, a great idea. That way the stats would be immediate too.

    Any idea what it would cost to install such technology?

  4. Somewhat unrelated, but on the subject of getting more people to bike: I know the city has been repaving a number of roads along the bike routes this summer, but they have to work faster! I rode along 7th Ave. last night and hit TWO abrupt dips in the road, resulting in, of course, a blown tire. I almost flew off too!

  5. I haven’t seen cumulative numbers, but for the Dunsmuir Viaduct, cyclist numbers went from 100 per day to 1000 per day in the first month or two.

  6. According to page 10 of this Council Report – the City is looking at doing this:
    “establishment of a prominent and permanent bike count display kiosk to provide
    the public with a continuous visual reminder of the significance of cycling in our

    Click to access csbu5.pdf

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