Back in mid-December, a low-key electronic sign was installed beside the Galloping Goose Trail just after the Point Ellice Bridge as you approach downtown.
I saw it for the first time while out for a bicycle ride on Sunday. It is a nice looking sign.
It’s a vertical slab with lighted information on each side — the temperature, the date and time, and perhaps most importantly for its designers, the number of bicyclists who have come by.
When I went by early Sunday afternoon, the sign had counted a modest 351 cyclists, including me. But there are great ambitions. There’s a thermometer-style scale for “cyclists this year” that goes up to 1,000,000.
The sign was proposed by the City of Victoria, and cost $21,000 to supply and install. The money came from the federal gas tax fund, and was part of a $473,650 bundle of money that the Capital Regional District handed out last year. Most of the money was designated for improvements to bicycle trails and infrastructure, such as $75,000 for a buffered cycle lane on Kelly Road in Colwood.
I’ve seen some complaining about the sign, that $21,000 was way too much for what it is. I’ve also seen complaining about money in general going to bicycling, when so much needs to be done for motorists, who are by far the majority.
Sign supporters say it’s a good way of showing why the trail system is needed; it’s confirmation with hard numbers that cyclists want it and use it. The sign is also a cheerleader.
Here’s how Karen Brooks, at peopleforbikes.org, put it: “When you see that ticker go up, you know you’re not alone. On a dreary Monday morning commute by bike, it can be surprising—and encouraging—to see just how many other people had the same idea you did. Wherever you ride, for whatever reason, it’s nice to know that we’re being counted.”
I’m a pro-sign guy, biased, to be sure, by the fact that I commute by bicycle.
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Statistics from some bicycle-counter signs are being posted on the Internet; this one is from Portland, Oregon. Haven’t heard if that will also happen in Victoria.
A debate about the Galloping Goose bicycle-counting sign, and funding for bicycling infrastructure at reddit.com
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