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A Live Bike Counter Shows A City How Many People Are Riding

This device in San Francisco creates up-to-the-minute stats for all to see about how popular the bike lane is.

Just glance at the steady flow of cyclists cruising along downtown San Francisco’s major thoroughfare Market Street at rush hour, and you’ll get the sense that the bike lanes are being well utilized. But observations aren’t the same as cold, hard data, and the city has installed a new bike counter that visualizes just how much the number of bikers has grown, joining cities like Seattle and Copenhagen who have taken on similar awareness-raising projects.

In recent years, thanks to some traffic calming measures, Market Street has become one of the country’s busiest cycling thoroughfares, according to StreetsBlog. The counter is a visual demonstration of the number of cyclists riding east on Market Street between 9th and 10th streets. Each bike that passes by will up the counter, with graphs showing statistics for both the day and year.

"The installation of this innovative bicycle barometer comes at a critical moment in San Francisco," the SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin said in a statement. "As more and more San Franciscans are using a bicycle as part of their everyday commute, this visual bike counter will raise awareness of the positive impact bicycling has on traffic congestion, air quality and personal health."

And if that doesn’t happen in time, there are always more DIY versions of the tool, that let biking advocates count their own transportation flows (but those don’t come with the fancy cool, digital displays, of course.)