Ride on!

The Tucson metropolitan area is one of the top regions in the West for people biking to work. The Regional Transportation Authority has contributed to our biking infrastructure in a big way, funding more than 300 miles of bike lanes/paths in the region since voters approved the RTA plan in 2006. There are 250 miles to go.

With people biking to work, school and for recreation, it’s important to understand their needs for future planning. Pima Association of Governments, which manages the RTA, conducts an annual bicycle and pedestrian count across the region to identify habits, trends and characteristics. Volunteers are stationed at some 80 intersections or locations to capture bicyclist and pedestrian data. The 2020 count wrapped up in late October.

PAG Senior Transportation Planner David Mitchell says the data collected helps PAG and communities understand bicycle and pedestrian activity throughout the region. “As with other modes of travel, bicycle commutes often include routes that cross multiple jurisdictions.  Having a regional understanding of these commute patterns helps planners, project managers and engineers include appropriate bicycle and pedestrian accommodations when designing projects.”

The annual event is more than a bike/ped count. Behaviors also are observed. For example, PAG collects the number of riders wearing helmets, riding on sidewalks and riding against the flow of traffic. This information, Mitchell says, can be used to improve safety measures. “This data is collected to examine trends over time and can be used to analyze the effectiveness of safety education and outreach.  The data can also help reveal locations where possible redesign can contribute to better safety outcomes.”

This year’s data still needs to be processed, but if you want to look at results from previous counts, we suggest you check out the Bicycle and Pedestrian Data Explorer. You can look at characteristics at locations across the entire region over the past five (5) years.

The count would not be possible without support from volunteers including University of Arizona students, jurisdiction staff, public health care workers and citizens. They put in more than 300 hours of volunteer time to ensure a comprehensive and accurate count of the region’s cyclists and pedestrians. Thank you to all those who participated.