Next month, the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission will put volunteers on local streets to tally up walkers and bike riders to help make thoroughfares safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
The agency’s counts of bikers and pedestrians are set for the week of Sept. 18-24, in connection with the National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project.
“The counts, conducted exclusively by volunteers, provide vital data to our region’s planners, decision makers, and anyone else interested in making walking and biking safer and more convenient,” TCRPC officials said.
TCRPC will send volunteers to 38 locations in Dauphin and Cumberland counties, from Hershey to Shippensburg. The locations were chosen in a cooperative effort between HATS planning staff, the HATS Bike/Ped Task Force and other local stakeholders. HATS stands for Harrisburg Area Transportation Study.
HATS was created in response to the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1962, which mandated regional transportation planning as a condition for receiving federal funds for transportation projects. It covers 103 municipalities, and is led by TCRPC.
A 2014 HATS bicycle and pedestrian study noted that Millennials — defined as 16- to 34-year-olds — drove 23 percent fewer miles on average in 2009 than in 2001, which was the greatest decline in driving of any age group. Members of that generation also are more open to non-driving modes of transportation and seek out urban and walkable neighborhoods, the study indicated.
Coupled with concerns about high obesity rates statewide and the sustainability of motor vehicle use, the study called for a more coordinated approach to planning for improved bike and pedestrian facilities across the region.
Anyone interested in participating in the upcoming counts can visit TCRPC’s sign-up page, or e-mail Andrew Bomberger with questions.