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Why Are San Diego State Researchers Counting Bicyclists?

Sherry Ryan, a professor of city planning at San Diego State University who manages the Bike Count program, and Chris Kluth, the senior active transportation planner for SANDAG talk to KPBS about "Bike Count."

We're sorry. This audio clip is no longer available. A transcript has been made available.

Bicycling is fun. It's also an important part of city planners' vision of our future. As a region, we have to cut our carbon footprint even as the population grows. So planners and government officials think researching who is biking where is worth the investment. That's just what San Diego is doing.

Researchers from San Diego State University's Active Transportation Research Center have undertaken the most extensive bicycle count system in the nation.

Photo by Tom Fudge

SDSU Professor Sherry Ryan poses over an electronic loop, embedded in the street, that keeps track of the number of bikes which travel on that route.

"Bike Count" began with a $16 million grant to the San Diego County Health Department. It paid for the installation of electronic sensors in 28 locations in San Diego County. There are monitors in 13 cities. Sixteen locations are in the city of San Diego.

The bike sensors have been in place now for about three months, and they tell us a lot about bike traffic volume in San Diego. The number of daily bike trips, on a given road, can range from 25 to 2,500.

Sherry Ryan, a professor of city planning at San Diego State University who manages the Bike Count program, told KPBS they are also using infrared sensors attached to street posts to count pedestrians.

She said their method for counting bikes, using a loop in the road that registers bikers, is innovative, and that their vendor is the only one that provides this service.

Chris Kluth, the senior active transportation planner for SANDAG, said the data will be used to plan the best places for bike facilities.

Both Kluth and Ryan said male cyclists are seen far more often than women, and Kluth added that women cyclists are more commonly seen in areas with more bikers overall.

Claire Trageser contributed to this report.

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