Evaluating the Accuracy of Pedestrian/Bicycle Counters Conference Paper uri icon


  • With the growing trend toward concepts such as walkable streets and livable communities, the need to accommodate pedestrian and bicycle traffic is also increasing. Similar to needs with vehicular traffic, it is necessary for transportation agencies and jurisdictions that employ these concepts to ascertain the current and potential demand on their infrastructure by other road users such as pedestrians and bicyclists. This will enable them to determine where these users now travel and help predict where increasing travel demand will occur. One means of quantifying this demand is using automated pedestrian/bicycle counters. Similar to automated motor vehicle counters, pedestrian/bike counters provide traffic engineers and planners with a tool to count volumes and record traffic patterns on shared use paths, sidewalks, and other linear spaces frequented by pedestrians and bicyclists. A recent research project evaluated three automated pedestrian/bicycle counters and compared their relative strengths and weaknesses in metrics such as ease of installation, accuracy of count, and ability to distinguish pedestrian groups. A break-beam counter exhibited the best overall count accuracy (including groups), but lacked user-friendliness in setup and operation. The first of two infrared counters had both moderate ease of installation and counting accuracy, but missed detecting a large percentage of bicycles. The second infrared detector was the easiest to both install and upload the post-test data, but lacked the detection range to count wide trails and had slightly less overall accuracy than its counterparts. Slight modification of the sensors' detection algorithms could improve their accuracy and more user-friendly interfaces could enhance their ease of use.

published proceedings

  • Institute of Transportation Engineers Annual Meeting and Exhibit 2007

author list (cited authors)

  • Brewer, M. A., Eurek, R. M., & Turner, S. M.

complete list of authors

  • Brewer, MA||Eurek, RM||Turner, SM

publication date

  • January 2007