It’s important to log numbers of public highway users – knowledge is power. Traffic counts (think eyeballs and clipboards) have been carried out since Victorian times, and automated traffic counters have been around since the 1930s – the one pictured is from a 1935 issue of Popular Science – but manual traffic counts are irregular, costly and date quickly, and automated ones are usually complex, expensive and can’t always capture fleet-of-wheel bicycle riders. Bike-specific automater counters are available, and famously used in cities such as Copenhagen to publically flag cyclist numbers, but they tend to be at high-use junctions and on bridges rather than spread out to capture widespread data.
Bikeportland reports that a local app developer has created a Bluetooth-enabled bicycle counter that’s small, cheap and will be able to count cyclists in locations where traditional automated counters can’t.
William Henderson is the developer of Knock, an app that uses Bluetooth to unlock Macs without typing passwords. His $50 bike counter will make it easier for towns and cities to understand the peaks and troughs of bike traffic, and 24/7, every day of the year. The Knock counter is equipped with a tiny infrared camera and other detectors, and can relay its count via Bluetooh to an official with a paired app on a smartphone.
Portland is to trial Knock. Bikeportland quotes an official saying that, if the tech works it "would free up a ton of staff time and spreadsheet time. If the cost goes down, then we can put them in places that we’re not counting as much right now."