More counters to show bike trip numbers

4 December 2018

Additional electronic counters and improved online data will help show how Wellington City travel patterns change over time as more paths, lanes and other changes are made to make it safer and easier for more people to make some trips by bike.

Image demonstrating location of bike counter in Karori

Image representing bike counter

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Wellington City Council installed electronic counters on eight key routes earlier this year, and has just installed counters in another 11 locations. Three more will be going in early next year.  

From today, data collected is also being more comprehensively displayed on the Council website transportprojects.org.nz

Wellington City Council’s Portfolio Leader for Walking and Cycling, Councillor Sarah Free, says it is early days yet.

“Over time, the Council wants to be able to track how the numbers change as safer facilities for people on bikes are developed, the population grows, and the city eventually has a connected cycle network.

“The counters will give us year-round 24/7 counts, showing seasonal variations, and what’s happening at different times of the day on different routes. We regularly get asked for this information so we are keen to make it readily available and easy to understand,” says Cr Free. 

Based on what has happened in other places around the world, Cr Free says we can expect to see more people – and different types of people – biking once we have safe routes in place. These need to connect suburbs with the central city, adjoining suburbs with each other, and provide safer access to neighbourhood facilities including sports fields and schools.

“At the moment most of our counters are on the road in lanes shared with general traffic but we are seeing an increase in the number of trips made by bike. We expect this to increase even more once there is better and safer bike infrastructure in place.”  

Cr Free says the city’s population is expected to grow by up to 80,000 people by 2043 (from 200,000 to 280,000), so the Council needs to plan for the equivalent of five to six suburbs the size of Karori over the next 25 years.

“This, plus our goal to reduce emissions, and the huge health benefits associated with walking and cycling are some of the reasons we are prioritising these modes along with public transport.

“We know the city’s collective desire is to make Wellington an even more sustainable and attractive place to live and visit, because it is an aspiration that comes through strongly every time we ask people about what they value about the city and want for the future. Making things safer so people have more choice in the way they get around is an important part of that.”

More on the counters

The new electronic counters work in a similar way to the vehicle detection loops at signalised intersections that help activate traffic lights.

Thin cables are laid into the road or path surface, which feed information to a logging chamber. The chamber stores the count data, which at this stage is collected monthly. The counters detect the electro-magnetic signature of bicycles, and distinguish them from other vehicles. They can also determine and record the direction of travel.

In most locations, only bikes are being counted. In a few locations – typically where the path is shared or the footpath is right next to the bike path – pedestrians are also being counted.  At this stage, the counters are not able to detect carbon fibre bikes.

The Zelt counters, supplied by the French-based company Eco-counter, are used by a number of other councils around New Zealand including Auckland and Christchurch.

The Council will still collect information from manual counts carried out from 7am to 9am over one week a year in March. This count is done at 28 locations in the same week every year by people with clip-boards, regardless of the weather.

It has provided useful information, and shows a gradual increase in numbers over the past 20 years, but doesn’t show how many people are using these routes at other times of the day and year.

The first of the electronic counters were installed in the following locations earlier in the year:

  • Hutt Road (on the shared path and road)
  • Thorndon Quay (on the road in both directions)  
  • Evans Bay Parade (on the shared path)
  • Airport subway
  • Aro Street (on the road)
  • Karori Tunnel (on the road)
  • Oriental Parade (on the shared path between the yacht club and Herd Street)
  • Ara Tawa (in two locations on the shared path)

New ones recently installed, or soon to be installed, are in the following locations. Data from these ones will be displayed online from early 2019.

  • Seatoun Tunnel (on the road) 
  • Cobham Drive (on the bike and foot paths near Miramar cutting) 
  • Mt Victoria Tunnel (on the shared path)
  • Oriental Parade (on the new bike path and on the road)
  • Crawford Road (on the new bike lane heading up and on the road heading downhill)
  • Tasman Street near Pukeahu National War Memorial Park (on the road) 
  • Basin Reserve (at the southern entrance to the park)
  • Adelaide Road (on the road near Wakefield Park)
  • Brooklyn Road (on the road southbound)
  • Willis Street (on the road northbound)
  • Salamanca Road (on the road)
  • Glenmore Street (on the road)
  • Burma Road (on the road)
  • Willowbank Road (on the road)