Bike Activists Rejoice: A Low-Cost, DIY Tool for Urban Transportation Planning
For anyone trying to advocate for better bike lanes or other improvements to city streets, there's a critical tool in getting changes made: better data. Not long ago, the only way to know how many cars or bikes used a particular street was to hire a contractor using expensive equipment, or to stand in place with a clipboard manually counting the traffic going by. The TrafficCOM was designed to make data collection much easier—it's a small, portable, low-cost device anyone can use to measure traffic.
Built with the open-source electronics platform Arduino, the device comes with a long plastic tube that can be stretched across a street. A DIY urban planner can choose the setting for either cars or bicycles, and each time a car or bike rolls over the tube, the TrafficCOM will record it.
The system goes beyond collecting data to help display it as well; the device can be plugged into a computer, and when the data is uploaded to the TrafficCOM website, it's all displayed conveniently on a map. Unlike traffic data collected by most city governments, all of the TrafficCOM data is open and cumulative, so an advocacy group can pull from the research others have done without having to necessarily do a new traffic count themselves.
The TrafficCOM has been used from Moscow, to San Francisco, to Santiago, Chile, and a new version launched on Kickstarter today. Support the project here.
This project will be featured in GOOD's Saturday series Push for Good—our guide to crowdfunding creative progress.
Images courtesy of Tomorrow Lab