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Counting the nation's walkers and bikers

Sarah Putt, Contributor. 16 January 2020, 3:25 pm

If you cycle or walk the roads and pathways of Aotearoa, you may be unaccounted for. But that's set to change with the NZ Transport Agency's move to improve the data collected on the number of cyclists and pedestrians that are active across the nation.

NZTA has issued a Request for Quotes (RFQ) for a National Procurement of Bicycle and Pedestrian Counters. Its aim is to make it more affordable for councils to use the latest technology to collect data on cyclists and pedestrians.

"The National Land Transport Fund, alongside local government, now invests significantly into walking and cycling networks, with almost $400 million planned in this National Land Transport Programme period. As we continue to invest in pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, it is crucial to understand where and how the outcomes affect New Zealand," the RFQ documents state.

"Active mode data" (as walking and cycling activity is referred to) is collected by District and Regional Councils and then shared with NZTA, which stores it in the National Walking and Cycling Count Database. This is used to monitor progress and analyse trends in walking and cycling at national and regional levels.

Currently, it is up to each council to purchase the counters and because they are often ordering in small quantities the cost is higher. Consequently, smaller councils may not invest in counters and instead rely on manual counts and/or contracting a traffic data company to carry out the service.

In addition to cost, Councils may not have the capacity to research new products and therefore make the best purchasing decision. It is quite a specialised solution, when you consider the requirements specified by the NZTA in the RFQ, which are:

  • Count bicycles and/or pedestrians
  • Differentiate between bicyclists, pedestrians, and vehicles
  • Detect direction, ordinal directions, and/or trajectory
  • Associate the data and time of day with counts

NZTA doesn't want to buy a solution on behalf of councils, instead it wants to provide them with the opportunity to purchase counters as part of a 'group rate' from preferred suppliers. It estimates that 15 to 20 Councils will collectively purchase between 40 - 60 counting solutions.

The deadline for Quotes is 11 February, with the contract expected to start in March.


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