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Short Duration Count Program

Short duration bicycle and pedestrian traffic counts can last from five minutes to multiple months. They can be collected manually by volunteers or by portable automated equipment.  Short duration count programs tend to be more common than permanent count programs because they don’t require special equipment. However, without corresponding permanent counters these short duration counts cannot be adjusted to an annual average. 


The National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project offers a standard procedure for collecting manual short duration counts.  

Boulder County, Colorado conducts a short duration bicycle counting program as part of its motor vehicle count program using pneumatic tube counters. Through extensive testing using various equipment configurations, the county determined that bicycles were being counted as trucks.  To improve the accuracy of the off-the-shelf pneumatic tube counter, the county modified the counter’s vehicle classification scheme so that fewer cyclists were misclassified.1  Below is a presentation from Alex Hyde-Wright and Brian Graham of Boulder County as well as instructions for the classification scheme and a copy of the classification scheme.




Similar to motorized traffic monitoring, the majority of non-motorized locations will be monitored using short-duration counts. However, in some non-motorized monitoring programs the distinction between short-duration counts and special needs counts is not clearly defined. Short-duration counts are performed on specific facilities based on certain needs for that facility (e.g., before-after), but it is not known whether that specific facility is representative of other facilities and can therefore be expanded to a sub-area or regional estimate of overall non-motorized travel.

Unfortunately, clear guidance does not yet exist on this statistical representation issue and one will have to use their best judgment in determining which special needs counts also can be used to represent sub-area or regional travel estimates and trends.

1Hyde-Wright, A., B. Graham, et al. (2014). "Counting Bicyclists with Pneumatic Tube Counters on Shared Roadways." ITE Journal.