Bike-Ped Map Adds Data To Tippecanoe County Anecdotes

Jul 11, 2017

Volunteers went to each of the marked locations and counted the number of cyclists and walkers they saw.
Credit courtesy Tippecanoe County Area Plan Commission

Tippecanoe County leaders will get a look Thursday at one of the first data-driven attempts at measuring cycling and walking in the community.

The Area Plan Commission will see a map showing more than 40 sites where volunteers have measured the volume of bikes and pedestrians.

APC Assistant Director for Transportation Planning John Thomas says it’s just a first step – more sites will still be surveyed – but it’s a way to keep lawmakers skeptical of building more bike-ped infrastructure engaged in the discussion.

“There are still policymakers who don’t see as much of a need for improved bicycle facilities as others," Thomas says. "And everything we can bring to bear to highlight the need; show them the need, the better.”

Thomas says much of the community’s decisions to build trails, bike lanes and other amenities have come at the whim of city and county leaders in the past, and not because there was demonstrated need based on the traffic in a given area.

“The decisions to invest in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure have been, by in large, policy decisions based on some anecdotal information, based on the mayors’ and the city engineers’ feedback,” he says.

And Thomas says this week’s update, to the Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Policy Board, is just the start of the county’s plans to map its non-car traffic.

“It’s a living, breathing animal and we will revisit it and I’m sure count other locations as the counting program grows in size – as it should.”

Most of Lafayette remains unexplored, including all thoroughfares east of 18th Street.

Many more sites in West Lafayette have been surveyed, including more than a dozen along or within a block of the city’s State Street overhaul.