CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- If you bike, run or walk around SouthEnd along the light rail trail, you’re likely to see new digital signs. They will count the number of bikers and walkers and then send that information to the city.

CDOT, in partnership with NCDOT, is part of a statewide pilot program to install permanent pedestrian and bicycle counters. The Institute for Transportation Research and Education (ITRE) at NC State University is leading the effort.

As part of the program, CDOT installed 18 "EcoCounters" in 10 locations throughout the city. This marks the first time the City of Charlotte has used continuously monitoring counting sensors for pedestrians and bicycles along city streets.

The purpose of the EcoCounters is to:

  • Evaluate facility usage and prioritize future projects,
  • Provide evidence to support pedestrian/bicycle infrastructure,
  • Improve municipal and regional planning for active transportation, and
  • Satisfy a commitment in Charlotte's Action Plan for the USDOT Mayors' Challenge.

“What we are trying to do is use that data to help prioritize future bicycle and pedestrian improvements around town,” says CDOT’s Scott Curry.

Two of the EcoCounter locations include display towers to show a live count of facility usage:

  • On South Tryon Street between Morehead Street and the I-277 bridge, a new median and display will show a live count of cyclists who use the South Tryon Street bike lanes.
  • On the Rail Trail near Tremont Avenue, a display will show the number of pedestrians and cyclists who use the Rail Trail.

“We have been tracking data on how cars move throughout the city for decades. This investment in Charlotte is able to track how pedestrians and cyclists navigate our city,” Curry explained.

In addition to the goals above, the interactive display towers help celebrate pedestrian and bicycle usage on two high-volume pedestrian/bicycle corridors. They send an important message: the city values all transportation choices and is planning for walking and cycling.

At least 12 other cities across the United States are using real-time EcoCounter displays to achieve similar goals, including San Francisco, Seattle, Indianapolis, Tallahassee and Minneapolis.

The City's participation, $83,655, is funded in the Community Investment Plan under CDOT's Pedestrian and Bicycle Programs.

The signs are expected to be live and turned on in late February.