The MPO has collected data for seven consecutive years, the results of which are summarized in our annual count program report. Since the first count, conducted in 2010, bicycle traffic has increased by an average of 5 percent each year, and pedestrian traffic has increased by an average of 6 percent. For more interesting trends and information on our active transportation traffic patterns, click the image to the left to open the report.
Volunteer Count Program
The Metropolitan Planning Organization initiated the Bike & Pedestrian Count program in 2010 in order to better understand active transportation mode traffic patterns in Missoula. The program is designed to capture a "snap-shot" of bicycle and pedestrian traffic at locations throughout Missoula, which can then be extrapolated to determine the average annual daily traffic (AADT) over a 24-hour period at those stations. Although the counts do not provide total non-motorized traffic for the City, the data do help us understand trends and patterns over time.
Counts are conducted by volunteers at 17 annual stations each year and an additional 12 stations in odd years (e.g. 2011, 2013). Stations were chosen to cover a range of different facilities (commuter trails, bike lanes) and geographic areas (downtown, University neighborhood), and road types (arterials, collectors, local streets). A map of all 29 count stations can be found here. Volunteers are recruited twice each year, once in late spring (mid-May) and once in late summer (early September), to conduct 2-hour counts on Tuesday from 4-6pm and on Saturday from 12-2pm.
Counting at the 17 annual and 12 odd-year stations requires the assistance of many volunteers, but allows the MPO to collect data at a much wider geographic scale than would otherwise be possible. The methods for counting were developed using standards provided by the National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project (NBPD). In addition to setting out standard data collection methodology, NBPD collects and reports on data from across the country. Missoula's count program contributes to that national effort.
For more information on the Bicycle and Pedestrian Count Program, check out our annual report. If you are interested in volunteering for the next count, fill out this form to be notified of upcoming activities.
Permanent Automated Count Program
One of the many challenges we face with our volunteer count program is how to deal with fluctuations in weather, special events and seasonal changes when estimating AADT. Although seasonal adjustment factors are available from NBPD, those estimates are based on regional data and don't strictly apply to Missoula.
In order to address the variability in the 2-hour counts, the MPO installed Missoula's first permanent automated bicycle and pedestrian counter in 2014, followed by five more in 2015 and one in 2017. Developed by EcoCounter, the Eco-Multi combines a dual-lens infrared camera with an in-ground inductive loop to differentiate between bicycles and pedestrians and to measure the direction of travel for both modes.
The Eco-Multi counter logs each bicycle and pedestrian trip continuously, 24-hours a day. Every 15 minutes that data is transmitted via satellite to EcoCounter, who then upload the data to a web portal. Continuous data from the counter is available through the portal, and users have a variety of analysis tools or can download the data for more involved analysis.
To explore the automated count data, visit the EcoVisio web portal and login with the username: public and password: public. For more information on the permanent counter program, contact David Gray at (406) 552-6669.