Performing a one-time cycle traffic count: a comparative study of existing technologies.

For a local authority, measuring the traffic of cyclists contributes to the evaluation of the cycling policy, makes it possible to anticipate changes in the use of facilities and thus to adapt the strategy if necessary. To meet this need, Cerema, in partnership with the Department of Isère, carried out an initial comparison of temporary traffic counting technologies, which can be moved from one site to another.

For follow the evolution of cycle traffic on its territory, but also sometimes to respond to financing conditions cycle facilities, the use of permanent or occasional metering technologies has experienced significant growth in recent years. This is demonstrated by the development of the National Frequentation Platform (PNF) led by Vélo et Territoires, which makes it possible to pool and make public permanent counting data over a large part of the territory.

The study “Comparison of temporary cycle traffic counters – Evaluation on 2 sites in Isère” is part of this dynamic by focusing on the temporary sensors, i.e. able to change site according to knowledge needs. Carried out within a framework of public-public cooperation between Cerema and the Department of Isère, its objective is to offer a first level of analysis of existing systems.

Operational implementation and performance comparison

Indeed, unlike road traffic sensors, there is currently no qualification or standard for cycle traffic sensors, which makes it difficult toactual performance evaluation. In addition, the standards developed for motorized traffic with high speeds and volume are difficult to apply to bicycle counting. This study has therefore cleared a method for comparing sensors based on road metrology studies adapted for cycle traffic.

Two experimental sites were chosen with the Department of Isère:

  • the first on a Greenway accommodating exclusively active modes on a separate road
  • the second on a departmental road at the exit of agglomeration with a cycle lane only in one of the directions of traffic.

Each observation site was also equipped with a camera to compare results counters for each cyclist passage with reliable measurement.

The results make it possible to analyze the performance of each technology according to the situation encountered, cycle traffic as well as the difficulties encountered during their installation and during their operation. Thus, beyond the theoretical precision, the study makes it possible to note the limits or the difficulties of implementation of each one according to the characteristics of the development or the traffic.

The selection of meters included in the comparison

laser sensor on the edge of the green lane
Laser sensor on the edge of the greenway – Cerema

The cycle traffic counters were selected to meet both the objectives of the evaluation, the obligation to be temporary, and a logic of availability of technologies. The result is a fairly heterogeneous sample with sometimes different areas of use, with various technologies :

The speed cameras and the pneumatic tubes are already well known by road managers and have the advantage of being easy to deploy. However, their level of precision decreases when the traffic is shared between different types of users, which limits their field of use essentially to own sites.

Conversely, the laser sensors and the video analyticsless known and diffused, present an interesting detection potential in complex situations where different modes of travel coexist.

In summary, we were able to develop flowcharts to allow each road manager wishing to carry out a cycle traffic count to choose the best technology. adapted to his needs. It may evolve and gain information through future performance analyzes reproduced on other technologies or on other types of facilities.

Find the report on CeremaDoc:


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