Portland, Oregon is consistently at or near the top of rankings touting the best cities for biking in the United States. So it’s not surprising that it has installed something that you might expect to find in some of Europe’s uber bike-friendly cities.
It’s the first city in the U.S. to install a digital bike counter, also known as a “bike barometer.” On one of the city’s most popular biking corridors, the Hawthorne Bridge, the new device does exactly what you might expect it to do. It counts the bikers that pass by the counter. It displays the total number of bikers that have passed the counter each day, in real time, along with the total number of bikers for the year. But the device isn’t just about making data of bike riders visible to the public, it can also be a useful tool for the city. The data is available to the city to track biking patterns. The more bike counters the better. And you can track the data from anywhere using this website.
Bike Portland explains how the system works:
The counter works via four sets of air hoses strung across the Hawthorne Bridge path. There are two sets of two hoses placed about 10-15 feet apart on both sides of the bridge. According to PBOT data collection expert Tom Jensen, when someone on a bicycle rolls over the hoses, their weight depresses the hose, which creates a pulse that is converted into a radio signal that beams wirelessly to the counter.
The system is rigged so that it can only count bicycle trips. It’s based on the timing sequence of a bike and the amount of strength that goes over the hoses.
Over at Streetfilms, they have a great video of the new bike counter and how similar devices are used in other countries. Check it out below:
Photo: Flickr/Steven Vance