April 23, 2020 at 1:34 pm

Lynch Using Infrared Technology to Study Bike Path Usage Patterns

User counter (gray box in the foreground) on the Ohio University Campus.

User counter (gray box in the foreground) on the Ohio University Campus.

Dr. Amy Lynch is using infrared technology to count pedestrians, cyclists, and the occasional electric scooter or skateboarder on the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway, a prominent feature of Ohio University as it winds along the Hocking River.

Lynch, Assistant Professor of Geography, aims to better understand bike path usage patterns and dynamics. Until recently, there was limited information about the magnitude of bikeway use. Existing counts were short term and did not account for day-to-day or seasonal variation.

In 2018, to address this deficiency, Lynch installed counters at six locations along the bike path, spanning nearly 20 miles from Nelsonville to Athens. One of the counters is on campus. The devices tally users continuously, throughout the day and night. The highest daily count thus far was a Saturday during Mom’s Weekend in 2019 when more than 1,200 people passed a counter near the cherry blossoms.

Amy Lynch, portrait

Dr. Amy Lynch

Some trends are beginning to emerge, but Lynch noted that it will be particularly interesting to see how measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 have affected bikeway usage. Geography majors Mark Vorndran and Ethan Black will be using counter data to explore this question as part of their final capstone research project in the fall.

The data has also been useful for local municipalities and organizations such as the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway Committee as it seeks funding and promotes awareness of this important local resource.

Lynch further noted that as she fine tunes the application of the counter technology and accumulates more data, it will shed light on bicycle and pedestrian use in the understudied Appalachian region and be an increasingly useful resource for further supporting sustainable and equitable modes of transportation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *