We’ve installed an automatic bicycle counter on Florida Street, just north of Virginia Avenue. The counter is part of The Big Jump project targeting South Memphis, and is the first permanent on-street bicycle counter in Memphis.
PeopleForBikes, the organization behind The Big Jump, provided the counter at no cost to the City.
We selected the location on Florida Street for two reasons. One, Florida is one of the few relatively bicycle-friendly streets that connects South Memphis with the south end of Downtown (and also in close proximity to the Big River Crossing at the Harahan Bridge). Most other streets in the area terminate at Crump Boulevard or are characterized by multiple lanes of fast moving car traffic. Second, this segment of Florida will receive protected bike lanes next spring. As such, the counter at this location will allow a good before-and-after assessment on the impact of the bike lanes.
This induction loop counter functions by detecting the presence of a passing bicycle. Wires buried just below the street’s surface establish an electromagnetic field that is altered whenever a metallic object of a certain mass passes through. The counter registers this disturbance and logs it as a bicycle (passing motor vehicles leave a different signature and are not logged by the counter). Wireless transmission of the data allows us to access the count logs from any computer or smartphone.
After a week or so of being online, the counter is reporting a daily average of four bicycles. We expect this number to raise dramatically over the next couple years as the network of safe bicycle facilities increases in this part of the city, and especially after the protected bike lanes are added to Florida.
Finally, as attested by the following photo taken before the installation, the counter also filled in an existing hole in the sidewalk and resulted in the removal of weeds that had been growing in said hole. That’s one counter enabling data-driven decisions, rectifying a pedestrian safety hazard, and reducing a bit of blight in one swoop — and the City didn’t even pay for it! Talk about a good investment!