For a couple of years now Heart of the City has been providing pedestrian counts at a number of locations within the CBD. They are delivered thanks to a growing network of automatic pedestrian counters which means a huge amount of detailed information is available from them rather than what is available from someone standing on the street counting people. I first wrote about it back in March last year. One of the reasons this is so important is the old adage that “you can only manage what you can measure”. For so long the only thing we could easily measure was vehicles and so it was easy to justify new and improved roads often at the expense of other users.

Heart of the City have now taken things a step further, there are more pedestrian counters and they’ve now launched an interactive map that allows people to easily see the results.

Heart of the City Map

Click on one of the counters and you get a quick glimpse of the result and can see how it compares to last year.

Ped Count Map detail

By clicking on the View Graph button they now provide a much greater level of detail too including counts by the time of day.

Ped Count Map detail Time of day

You can also create a comparison chart of multiple sites and the data is available daily, weekly, monthly or annually.

Overall this is a fantastic resource that Heart of the City have produced and they should be congratulated for making it so easily accessible. It would be fantastic if Auckland Transport did the same with their automatic cycling counters and even their PT data.

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  1. Pity there isn’t a counter at upper Shortland and Princes… to help make the case for a pedestrian crossing. Seems to me there’s a constant stream of peds taking their lives into their hands in that death trap.

    1. By all means a good idea in general to sample more data than we do now, but I wouldn’t expect AT in its present state to respond constructively to it.

      Experience making such cases to AT suggests that the data will be twisted to support private motor vehicle priority at the expense of everything else. For instance, the lower Shortland St, High St & Jean Batten Pl intersection has two proximate counters, and AT’s position so far has been that vehicular traffic deserves the most priority there, using those counts among other data as a basis. (A new investigation is now due next month, so their view may yet change.)

      AT uses low pedestrian counts to justify lower priority, and high pedestrian counts to claim a good level of service — and everything in between, there is no sweet spot.

      But of course vehicular counts are a different matter entirely. And interestingly they sometimes misuse it represent bus movements, thereby wrapping a PT shield around the sacred flow of cars, so you can’t have even marginally improved walking/cycling amenity because think of the buses.

  2. AT always tells me that street x doesn’t need any changes because of low pedestrians numbers but when you push it turns out they don’t have any figures at all. It’s just a generic response they send back to rebuke any and all query as to why pedestrians are treated so poorly.

    1. There is an opportunity here for Auckland Council or even an institution like AUT / UoA to install counters at various suburban locales to better understand pedestrian activity. Such evidence-based research would surely contribute to a higher quality of decision-making on infrastructure improvements city-wide.

      1. My understanding is they aren’t cheap to do. I can’t remember the exact costs but I think it was a few thousand to install and then even more per year in OPEX. It was fairly comparable in price to getting a human based survey done however has the benefit of having daily and time specific data so works out pretty good but not something that can be done cheaply everywhere.

        1. If the per unit install and operating cost of these ped counters is a barrier to wider usage of them, a NZ tertiary institution or technology company should develop a more affordable version for use in NZ – with sales to larger, more lucrative markets overseas in mind – a GoPro-smartphone combined unit perhaps?

      2. Pay some students to become AT Commuters, mobile counters or alternatively mobile complaint points.

        Hook them up with dictaphones, or phones that record rather than speak, and people can get their respective message through to AT HQ.

        I’d suggest AT staff do this themselves, but what with the shuttles and fleet cars, that seems a tad like wishful thinking.

        I do wonder of they were forced to walk Queen Street etc, if it might focus minds.

        1. Off topic but the huge problem with the shuttles in my mind is that AT staff are then failing to actually see how PT and walking can be improved, rather their minds are focused by the shuttle on what can be done to speed up cars and minivans.

  3. How are they exposing the data and will we be able to join it other emerging datasets to create products before and after the CRL is finished?

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