We’re always on the lookout for interesting new pieces of transport data. Smartphone apps and automated trip counters provide an increasing amount of usable, timely data that can tell us how, where, and (at times) why we’re travelling.

Moreover, transport agencies are increasingly open about publishing their data and opening it up for others to analyse. For instance, Auckland Transport now publishes data from dozens of automated cycle counters on its website, allowing organisations like Bike Auckland and Transportblog to track and analyse the benefits of investment in safe, separated cycleways.

But transport agencies aren’t the only people with data. I recently ran across two interesting sources of data on cycling that are being collected and published by private companies.

First, Strava, a social network that allows cyclists and runners to track their routes and publish them online, recently published a global map of user-submitted cycling routes. While Strava is targeted more towards athletes (or at least weekend warriors) than everyday cycle commuters, it still provides an interesting glimpse into where some people are cycling. (But not all!)

Here’s Auckland. This map pretty clearly shows the impact of recreation/sports cycling – although major commuter routes like Lake Road, Tamaki Drive, and the Northwestern Cycleway show up strongly, so does Scenic Drive in the Waitakeres, which is definitely not a common commuting route:


Here’s Christchurch – again, some of the same patterns, with hilly rides to the south of the city showing up stronger than cycling within the city:


And here’s Wellington. Perhaps not surprisingly, the busiest Strava corridors are on the flat areas around the edge of the harbour, and the ride up to the Hutt Valley:


Second, I happened to find out that the data from the automated cycle counter that AT installed on the Quay St cycleway is published online by Eco-Counter, alongside data from a whole bunch of similar counters around the world. (The only similar counter in NZ is in Hastings.)

The data shows daily trips on the Quay St cycleway. We’ve just ticked over 41,000 trips, or an average of 574 per day since it opened:


That’s pretty good for Auckland, but Eco-Counter’s data also shows how much better we could be. For instance, here’s a cycle counter in Freiburg, Germany, which I wrote about after a visit last December. They get an average of 9,134 cycle trips per day passing by their city centre counting point:


Closer to home, here’s a cycle counter in Darebin, a middle-suburban part of Melbourne, that gets more trips a day than Quay St – 1,340 cyclists a day on average. If the Australians can manage that in the ‘burbs, why can’t we?


As always, discussion is encouraged! Also, if you have any additional sources of interesting data, leave them in the comments.

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  1. Are counters expensive? It would be very nice to have a bike counter and pedestrian counter installed at the Light Path.
    Light Path is a mixed commuter/recreation/touristy pink path and have high cycling and pedestrian traffic. Having those using the path know how many people have used the pink path would be very nice and may encourage more to use it.

    1. > Are counters expensive? It would be very nice to have a bike counter and pedestrian counter installed at the Light Path.

      I presume you mean a “totem” counter display? Because Lightpath has had cycle counters since opening, and finally now, pedestrian counters as well. It just doesn’t have a display – you have to look at the very first link in this blog to get the data.

      The totems are likely reasonably expensive – I would guess in the high four or low five figures of dollars. If we re-did Lightpath now, we certainly would add one, and I think AT will add the odd further one as bikeway construction proceeds in the next years.

  2. I look forward to nelson street being finished. Should provide a big jump to the other routes as we start to get a bit more of a network.

  3. Just FYI the Darebin counter is in East Brunswick, which is really inner suburban old school flat griddy historic neighbourhood. It’s also hipster central and probably has the highest concentration of cyclists in Australia, given it has relatively poor public transport and traffic capacity but good cycling streets.

    1. And it has a pretty big university, so plenty of students to use bikes.
      How many cyclists would actually need to travel via Quay St. It’s a great cycle path, but seems to be slightly out of the way for many would be users.
      Now when the Harbour Bridge has a cycle way, then it becomes a main route.

      1. Are you talking about Quay Street, Auckland? It’s VERY busy with cyclists. Which is not surprising, as the busiest cycle route of Auckland (Tamaki Drive) leads straight to it. However, many of them peel off into the CBD before getting to the counter west of the Ferry Terminal – so this part of Quay Street is actually a lot quieter (in terms of bikes) than, say, 500m east.

  4. The problem with the counters is choosing a location for them that gives good data. We have found that at times we have chosen a location where cyclists end up doing multiple trips through the detector in an off-road location (mainly mountain biking) and the decision makers rely on that to mean that each detection is a unique rider. This isn’t unique to cycle counting of course. The strength of the Strava data is that you can isolate unique trips rather than just detections which makes for some pretty cool analysis. The trick is getting the raw data from Strava of course.

    1. It’s not clear if the Strava data is journeys or routes created – you can create a route, which is different than journey data. Either way, it is like a self-selecting survey, and there are plenty of other apps out there collecting similar data – MapMyRide, RunKeeper etc.

  5. Amazed at the thick line Onehunga Mall through to Manukau Rd – what a vile bike-unfriendly route, its only attraction is directness.

    The rule should be pedestrians get the straightest routes, cycling somewhat more indirect, and motorised vehicles have to wind their way through side streets.

    1. Yup
      Totally with u on your description of onehunga mall. Get that sorted for peds and cyclists for a huge boost to making Ak a livable city to be proud of. Every local nana and grandad would take the kids thru there for a muffin on their way to the gorgeous onehunga waterfront rides.

  6. How is the data fed to Strava and from what?
    As an older person who complained to AT about the Passage through the Takanini interchange for bikes. Then they got to work on it and directed the cyclist on a lengthy detour which is not really my idea of a bike friendly route. I wondered if there was a way to get the numbers using this area so we could perhaps make it more user friendly.

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