Why Count Cyclists?

This article was published in 1997, in Newsletter 13.

An enumeration subgroup has been set up within the Campaign. Why does it exist, you may ask, what does it do, and what does it hope to achieve?

It exists to support many of our suggestions and proposals with data. It was formed earlier this summer, in part because of some of the problems raised by the proposals for the Barton Road cycleway.

The main count we have done to date was 0700-1900 on Trumpington High Street (between Trumpington Village and Long Road). We hope this will be the first of several to look at the distribution of cyclists between road and shared use ‘footway’. The site was chosen as one where the shared use route has few side roads, few houses and generally good sight lines, although its surface is poor. It was found that over 50% of cyclists opted for the ‘off road’ route. We plan to do a similar count (probably on Queen Edith’s Way) where the shared use facility is of a much lower standard. We have also been given the County Council summaries of the counts they conducted in Barton Road.

Graph of Trumpington Road cyclists on 22 May 1997 (5k)

We have also done ‘pilot’ half hour counts of cyclists at Hyde Park Corner (junction of Lensfield Road and Hills Road) and the junction of Hills Road and Long Road, in response to letters in the press claiming that 50% of cyclists go through red lights. As you might expect, this was false – the true figure at Hyde Park corner was 20%! Most of these were ‘technical’ infringements (use of pavements to turn left or avoid stationary cars, creating forward stop lines, and cycling on pedestrian crossings) rather than deliberately crossing on the red. A well designed junction with adequate priority provision for cyclists would remove danger and frustration, and hence greatly reduce infringements. We did have two of the breed who give us all a bad name, cycling at speed through the junction without regard to red lights or traffic. We plan to do a more extensive survey here, and perhaps at Mill Road-Parkside as well. For comparison, Government figures published in June show 72% of cars exceeding the 30 mph speed limit at sites not limited by traffic congestion.

In the autumn we are planning to count cyclists coming into the City on some of the ‘radial’ routes, hopefully at about the same time as the County’s annual ‘traffic monitoring’ exercise.

We would also like to do some counts of cycle parking in the city centre, to quantify the lack of provision and to help in suggesting an ‘Under Cover, Under Surveillance’ facility for all day cycle parking, perhaps associated with proposed city centre developments.

We hope this work will support many of our arguments with facts, and provide City and County planners with the information they need to justify better provision for cyclists.

To do all this we need more volunteers. If you could spare a couple of hours before or after work or during the day please contact the Campaign. If you have already volunteered, but not yet been asked, your turn will come!

Finally many thanks to those who have helped already; without your support we could not have started the subgroup.

Jim Chisholm

Data copyright (c) Cambridge Cycling Campaign, 1997