Bicycle counter costing €20k unable to give proper tally of passing cyclists

A BICYCLE-COUNTING device on the N11 near University College Dublin has cost nearly €20,000, but is unable to keep an exact tally of all cyclists who pass it.

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council would not give a full breakdown of costs, but said that the €19,800 spent included the cycle counter unit, installation and calibration.

It is understood that a large portion of the cost was for the unit itself, which is a large piece of street furniture with two electronic displays built in.

The displays in the unit show how many cyclists pass each day and the total so far for the year. But the council admitted this type of counter is only able to record bicycles on the cycle track and is unable to count those who legally use the bus lane.

“In the case of the bicycle counter on the N11 near UCD, the National Transport Authority provided grant funding for its installation as it provides both a means to collect data on cycling numbers and as an advertisement for the promotion of cycling,” said Conor Geraghty, assistant engineer with Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council.

Mr Geraghty explained: “The counter operates using an electromagnetic loop detector system.

“When the bike passes over the loop, it detects and counts the cyclist — therefore if the counter was set up in the bus lane it would detect buses and taxis, providing inaccurate results.”

The National Transport Authority (NTA), which funded the counter, says it wants to roll out a trial of bicycle counters in Dublin.

“The NTA has requested both Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown and Dublin City Council to trial cycle counters — we will analyse their performance and outputs, and propose an overall cycle counting scheme in due course,” said Michael Aherne at the National Transport Authority.

Ciarán Fallon, the cycle officer at Dublin City Council, said the City Council would have to put its part of the project out to tender and could not comment on the cost.

“The function these serve is counting the number of cyclists, showing to people the large numbers of people who are using bicycles,” said Fallon.

“Crossing the canals in the morning there are as many as 27 people cycling through green traffic light phases — as many as cars, sometimes more.”

Aherne said that, as well as counting the numbers of cyclists, the display unit promotes cycling and its importance to other road users and encourages cyclists as they go past.

He said the counter was recording about 500 cyclists per day in one direction and this is expected to increase over the summer months.

About 17,000 cyclists have passed the counter this year, although he says because of start-up glitches the real figure is higher. It is unknown how many more cyclists use the bus lane.

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