Mobility turnaround in hamburg: senate automatically records cyclists

In the future, cyclists will be counted around the clock at 91 locations in Hamburg. The goal is better traffic planning.

There is more bicycle traffic than the Senate can count: Child in autumn leaves Photo: Marcus Brandt/dpa

The red-green Senate has put a network of automatic counting stations for bicycle traffic into operation. As Transport Senator Anjes Tjarks (Greens) described to the press on Tuesday, 55 thermal imaging cameras record passing cyclists around the clock. The data is immediately forwarded to a server, the Hamburg Urban Data Platform, and can be viewed online. "We’re making cycling in Hamburg transparent with this," Tjarks said. "This will have a big impact on traffic planning."

The Senate already counts cyclists once a year in August and September at 38 neuralgic points – but by hand – with the exception of a counting column on Gurlitt Island. These "gauge measurements" show a 120 percent increase in bicycle traffic since 2000, and the counters have recorded 33 percent more cyclists compared to 2019. "Bicycle traffic in Hamburg is booming," Tjarks noted.

In order to be able to draw traffic planning consequences from this, the automatic permanent counting stations are now being set up. There are to be 91 at 40 locations by the end of the year, and 100 in the medium term. On the Hamburg traffic portal, the counting stations can be clicked on and diagrams can be called up showing the volume of traffic over the day, the week, the year. The data can be linked with information about car traffic, electric charging stations and bicycle routes, for example.

"The collection of data is an essential basis for our work," said Stefan Klotz at the state press conference. Because they are more meaningful than the level measurements, the road space can be divided up according to need and traffic light intersections can be optimized so that cyclists get a green wave. "Priobike" is the name of the project that the Senate wants to have funded by the Federal Ministry of Transport.

Camera on lamppost

The federal government is also paying just under half of the 1.4 million euros for the counting stations. Volker Rech of Hamburg Verkehrsanlagen assured that anyone driving past such a camera mounted on a lamppost would not be detected on the thermal image. The counting network is one of 85 projects with which the Senate hopes to distinguish itself at next year’s Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) Congress in Hamburg.

Rech praised the system for its flexibility. The cameras could easily be dismantled and used elsewhere. According to Tjarks, the previously considered counting columns have proven to be too expensive.

An example of what can be detected with the new system is provided by the Hochbahn strike in October: bicycle traffic increased by 143 percent, car traffic by only ten percent.

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