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CDOT Partners with Kaiser Permanente, local communities on new bicycle/pedestrian counting program

October 5, 2010 - Goals to track trips, better plan for multi-modal safety improvements. STATEWIDE - It’s the perfect fit—the Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) Bicycle and Pedestrian Unit is partnering with Kaiser Permanente Colorado on a new program to increase active transportation in the state.

Kaiser Permanente has recently awarded CDOT with a $50,000 grant to increase the newly-formed bicycle/pedestrian counting program. The funding will purchase six new bike/pedestrian counters to be placed in various locations throughout the state. Each in-pavement counter installation will cost between $4,000 and $10,000, depending upon the complexity of the site.

“Data collected from each counter will be used to support decision making, as well as future policies and plans that accommodate biking and walking,” CDOT Bicycle and Pedestrian Unit Manager Betsy Jacobsen said. “Additionally, a portion of the funding will be used towards development of data storage and educational outreach.”

The hope is that this new program will help reduce congestion and improve air quality by getting more people to walk and bike to their destinations, particularly those within five miles or less.

CDOT initiated a bicycle/pedestrian counting pilot program in September 2009 as part of the annual National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project (NBPD).  However, instead of using staff or volunteers to count a specific location for a short period of time (two hours a day), CDOT worked with EcoCounters to install electronic devices to count 24 hours per day/7days a week. In addition to quantity of users, the counters also provide directional information that later can by reviewed for specific patterns such as commuter traffic and recreational traffic.

Two counters were installed on trails in the Denver Metro area as part of the pilot project and immediately began providing data. Since then, CDOT has purchased five more counters and has begun collecting data at various locations around the state. The Kaiser Permanente funds allow CDOT to expand the program to include roadways as well as trails.

“At Kaiser Permanente, we’re trying to make the healthy choices the easy choices for all members of the community,” Donna Lynne, DrPH, president of Kaiser Permanente Colorado said. “Our hope is that by creating places that encourage safe, active transportation, we’ll start to change the conversation in Colorado from moving cars to moving people.”

Previously, this type of information was only collected for motorized traffic.  As time goes on, the counts will also help measure whether or not bicycle usage has increased in areas where there have been improvements in the infrastructure.

In-pavement counters have been installed at the following locations (see attached map):

Durango on US 550 - MP 22.9, south of 27th Street

Steamboat Springs on US 40 and RCR129 (Elk River Road)

North Boulder on US 36 - MP 32.12, north of North Broadway Street

Broomfield on US 287 Broomfield Underpass

Arvada SH 12 (Wadsworth) at West 72nd Avenue

Aurora south of 6th Avenue and Vaughn Street

“We received 105 recommendations from communities as to where these counters could go – there was a great deal of interest,” Jacobsen said. “We ultimately chose these initial sites based upon location, need and local partnership commitment.”

Another aspect of the Kaiser Permanente grant is to share experiences and information with other agencies. In addition to making presentations and submitting papers at several key conferences, CDOT will provide its findings to local governments and agencies that have an interest.  This will increase the knowledge base and again help lead decisions around active transportation.

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ABOUT KAISER PERMANENTE COLORADO

Kaiser Permanente Colorado is the state’s largest nonprofit health plan, proudly working to improve the lives and health of Denver, Boulder, and southern Colorado area residents for 40 years. Kaiser Permanente Colorado provides comprehensive health care services to more than 515,000 members through 20 medical offices and a network of affiliated hospitals and physicians. The health plan was recently named “ Highest in Member Satisfaction” among Commercial Health Plans by J.D. Power and Associates for the third straight year. Kaiser Permanente was also named the top-ranked private health plan in Colorado and #9 in the nation for quality and member satisfaction by NCQA.  In 2009, Kaiser Permanente proudly directed more than $82 million to community benefit programs to improve the health of all Coloradans. For more Kaiser Permanente news, visit kp.org/newscenter or follow us on twitter @kpcolorado or facebook.com/kpcolorado.