ARCHIVES: This is legacy content from before Sustainable Cities Collective was relaunched as Smart Cities Dive in early 2017. Some information, such as publication dates or images, may not have migrated over. For the latest in smart city news, check out the new Smart Cities Dive site or sign up for our daily newsletter.

Counting Bikes on London's Cycle-Only Street

Hackney Council launched this bike counter on their bicycle-only street, Goldsmiths Row, at midnight on Monday, August the 5th.  Just 15 days later and it has already seen over 69,000 people on bikes have ridden past.

It works by detecting metal-rimmed wheels rolling over a wire loop in the carriageway which then sends a signal to the counter.  Every time a bike goes past, the tally goes up.  There's two numbers on the counter; one for cyclists who rolled past that day, and one for the total for that year (which presumably will be reset on December 31st so that in the future we don't have to remember that the counters were installed on August 5th!)

Whilst these cheap and cheerful counters might not do much to improve cyclist's physical comfort and safety, I believe they can certainly help to increase their subjective safety.  At times, riding in London can feel like it is 'you against the world', so it is good to be reminded sometimes that not only are you not alone, but that in fact there are thousands of others also riding bikes around you.  The cycle counts would be through the roof on busier central London cycle routes, something for Transport for London to consider perhaps?  It also sends a bold message to keep a look out as there's (lots) of bikes about.


On warm and dry Wednesday evening (yesterday) I was cyclist number 4,645 to have ridden past that day at 8.15PM.  When I returned about half an hour later bikes were still passing by every few moments and the counter had clocked up 4,967.  That's 322 bikes in half an hour, or 10 every minute.

Checking this counter will become a bit of a compulsive thing every time I ride past, and I think it is great that Hackney are sending out a message that says "Bikes are great, and welcome here".  Perhaps they could give a new bike away to rider number 500,000, like they did in Copenhagen, to really celebrate?


We've written about Goldsmiths Row on ibikelondon before - it's quite the favourite haunt of ours.  A simple series of bollards has created London's best bicycles-only street, and is the perfect example of what an effective "quietway" (as proposed by the Mayor in his bold new cycling strategy) ought to be.  Hackney's main roads leave a lot to be desired and are just as unpleasant to ride as everywhere else in London, but the Borough does this sort of quieter back road treatment very well, and we approve.

What number rider will you be today?


**UPDATE AT 11.30AM 22/08/2013**

There is a fantastic Council-built and well-used BMX track next to Goldsmiths Row which only helps to add to the feeling that this really is a corner of cycling paradise.  We stopped and watched for a while last night, as there were some really incredible riders using the track and performing tricks, as well as some very small brave souls (and one lad who it would appear came dressed as Evil Knievil)  It turns out that BMX legend Bob Haro was in town and stopping by to check in with the local BMX talent, and our friends at Cycle Love were there and captured these awesome photos.  It's a small world after all!