SDOT installs seven new bike counters

What the heck is that? 

Pedaling down 58th Street in Ballard or along the I-90 bridge trail over the past month, riders may have noticed some mysterious new infrastructure—rubbery diamond loops attached to small metal boxes—spanning the path. Say “hello” to Seattle’s newest bicycle counters!

The sensors were approved back in September, and the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) announced this morning that seven new electronic bike counters have been installed throughout the city.


Four counters have been installed on multi-use trails (see map below): 

  • Elliott Bay Trail in Mrytle Edward Park
  • Burke-Gilman Trail north of NE 70th Street
  • Chief Sealth Trail north of S Thistle Street
  • Mountains to the Sound Trail west of the I-90 floating bridge

And three counters were installed on neighborhood greenways:

  • 26th Avenue SW at SW Oregon Street in Delridge
  • 39th Avenue NE at NE 62nd Street in Wedgewood
  • NW 58th Street at 22nd Avenue NW in Ballard

What the counters DO (and don't do)

Like the Fremont and Spokane Bridge counters before them, the new generation of sensors will help SDOT collect data on ridership to help assess the effectiveness of bike-friendly projects and better serve the bicycling community.  

“It is important to use our limited funds wisely and data driven decisions help us do this,” said Kristen Simpson, SDOT Plan Implementation Manager. “Collecting bike and pedestrian data helps guide our investments and measure our progress while building a transportation system that gives Seattleites great travel options.”

Unlike their predecessors, though, the new sensors do not feature display totems that show a running count.

"While these bike counters may not offer the instant gratification of being visually counted like the Fremont and West Seattle counters, they are an important addition to SDOT's measurements of Seattle's progress toward getting more people to travel by bike,” said Jeff Aken, Principal Planner at Cascade Bicycle Club. “The more data we have, the better we'll be able to plan for and build a safe bicycling network for people of all ages and abilities."

Some, like the Elliot Bay Trail counter, will also count pedestrians. 

Looking ahead

Starting in February, curious raod users (and data junkies) will be able to track the results on the SDOT website. For a taste of what’s to come, check out the page for the Fremont Bridge counter. Fair warning: with copious data and gorgeous graphs, this page may bring your productivity to a grinding halt.     

SDOT says it plans to install three more counters by the end of the year, so keep your eyes peeled. With so many new sensors in place, it's time to hop on your bike and be counted! 

For more info on Seattle's Bike Master Plan, check out: