In the modern era of urban and regional planning, the importance of walking and bicycling as essential modes of transportation has become increasingly appreciated. Planning organizations across the country and even the world have begun to increase emphasis on infrastructure improvements and other strategies intended to improve mobility and accessibility of pedestrians and bicyclists. It is imperative to generate data on how people use pedestrian and bike facilities in order to accurately identify the challenges facing pedestrian bicycle travel. Data collection can also be used to measure the positive impact of infrastructure improvements and land use changes along with the characteristics of pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure. In the fall of 2014, Metroplan, the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) servicing Orange, Osceola, and Seminole Counties conducted the second installment of its Bicycle and Pedestrian Count Program. The program was to analyze the infrastructure and pedestrian/bicycle use in the Central Florida area.
The Emerging Urban Knights Student Planning Organization from the University of Central Florida (UCF) are proud to claim that many of its members volunteered to assist in the data collection needed for Metroplan’s study. On Thursday September 11, and Saturday September 13, 2014 numerous Urban Knights members ventured out into their community to designated areas to count pedestrians and bicyclists for a two hour period. The locations were determined by Metroplan and were either high pedestrian/bicycle areas or Sunrail stations. New participants attended training sessions in order to fully understand the purpose of the program, the methodology, and how to count to help make sure the data was collected uniformly and accurately.
At the Urban Knights general meeting following the counting exercise, all participating members (which were the large majority of us) shared details about the experience. Participants were intrigued and astonished by the stories of either overwhelming or underwhelming count numbers shared by the other members. A brief discussion ensued among the group of the importance of collecting the essential data required to make meaningful improvements to the pedestrian and bicyclist environments. In the end, all participating members voiced positive reviews of the experience and agreed to volunteer their time again the next time Metroplan conducts its bicycle/pedestrian data collection installment.