pedal poll Volunteer hub

Get the latest updates, videos, resources and more.

Thank you so much for signing up to volunteer with Pedal Poll. This count is not possible without you. On this page, you can find the latest updates, announcements and resources to help you before and during the count. Now, we count down the days till we start…

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Pedal Poll 2021 has been completed.
Women biking
Get ready for the count

Download the count instructions

announcement

Pedal Poll COVID-19 Notice

Pedal Poll 2021 will take place across the country, from June 1st-6th. The organizing team has made every effort to create a data collection plan that will not pose risks related to COVID-19 transmission. We recommend that Pedal Poll volunteers count outdoors, alone or with members of their immediate, COVID-compliant social circle, and take other precautionary measures like wearing a mask, keeping 2 metres away from others, and using hand sanitizer.

We recognize that parts of the country are experiencing high COVID-19 case counts and strict public health restrictions have been put in place to stop the spread of the virus. We’re very sorry if these restrictions prevent you from going out to count cyclists between June 1st-6th, 2021. We advise that you play it safe and comply with your local public health directives. We are so grateful to know that there is enthusiasm for a bike-friendly Canada, even if counting in some areas is limited this time around.  

With future funding, we hope that this will be the first of many annual Canada-wide bike counts! We look forward to seeing the Pedal Poll 2021 data empower cycling advocates with much-needed, and never-before collected, information about the perceived demographics of cyclists, all over Canada. We will learn a lot by collecting data in the current COVID-19 context and we know we can make Pedal Poll 2021 count, safely. 

So, in summary, PLEASE follow your local public health guidelines. DO NOT go out and count cyclists if it is unsafe, advised-against, or disallowed in your community. We’ll get you out there when we can!

training webinar

Full Webinar Video

Here is the Pedal Poll Training video. If you missed the training session on May 25th, please take the time to watch this video before your count day.
Play Video
individual webinar sections

Want to review a specific section of the webinar?

Click on the part you would like to view from the 3 sections below.

Play Video

1: Background and Expected Results

Play Video

2: Development of bike counting tools

Play Video

3: Protocol for counting bikes

Download the paper count tool

If you don’t have an available phone with data services, or want to simply count using regular pen and paper, here’s an alternative tool that you can print and take with you to count. Click the button below to download it. 

Resources

View the Counterpoint User Manual

Wondering how to install CounterPoint? How to create an account and start counting? Download the CounterPoint User Manual to get ready for the big count!

FAQS AND THEIR ANSWERS

The answers to your most asked questions

To help you understand the approach we are taking, we have compiled a list of answers to some frequently asked questions about the count. You can click on the questions to reveal the answers.

The app is called Counterpoint – prove it and is available on the App Store or Google Play. You can also download it from the CounterPoint website

First, you should create your own account or log into your existing account. Once you have an account, please join the ‘Pedal Poll Canada’ team before conducting your Pedal Poll counts. You can view the CounterPoint manual for step-by-step instructions: https://www.canadabikes.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/CounterPoint-App-User-manual-.pdf

To find the count screen, follow these steps:

      1. Open the app,
      2. Select a counterpoint (the green marker on the map) or create a new one, 
      3. Select the green ‘Count Here’ button,
      4. Choose the ‘Count Traffic’ method,
      5. Finally, select the ‘Cycling Demographics’ count form.

If you don’t see the ‘Cycling Demographics’ count form, please ensure the application is version (3.5.0) or further.

The latest version of CounterPoint (3.5.1) is available for iOS users, and as of writing, will be available shortly for Android users. If you already have CounterPoint downloaded on your mobile device, visit the App Store to update the app. 

That’s it, you’re already part of the Pedal Poll Canada team! When you complete your counting sessions, your data will be tagged with the team ID. This helps us easily locate the data collected during Pedal Poll amongst the many CounterPoint users worldwide.

This project, which is in its first year, has identified 14 pilot cities to support to be more systematic in their counting because we only have a small budget to work with. We have worked with local ambassadors to choose locations for counting in those cities . We hope to support more cities next year if we can secure some additional funding. Other cities and communities can still participate this year. They just won’t have the same level of support. 

This project, which is in its first year, has identified 14 pilot cities to support to be more systematic in their counting because we only have a small budget to work with. We have worked with local ambassadors to choose locations for counting in those cities . We hope to support more cities next year if we can secure some additional funding. Other cities and communities can still participate this year. They just won’t have the same level of support. 

If you don’t live in one of our pilot cities, you can choose your own location for the Pedal Poll. There are a few criteria to consider when you think of where you want to count. For screen line traffic counts, the sites are always established at mid-block locations (the segment between two intersecting roads or paths), not at intersections. The goal is to choose locations that are important to the local community, and of significance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Choose sites:

    • Where counts have been done before and/or automated counters are located 
    • That represent different travel purposes (primarily commuter, primarily recreational, or mixed)  
    • Located along high, medium and lower volume routes (not no volume sites) 
    • In higher and lower income and/or racialized neighbourhoods
    • Reflecting different types of cycling infrastructure
    • Along pandemic routes (e.g., slow streets, pop up bike lanes) *NOTE: sites should be operational during weekdays and weekends.

These are the same guidelines that we have used to choose count locations in all our pilot cities. That helps us to collect comparable and consistent data. 

Counts will  take place from June 1-6, 2021. In pilot cities, we aim to collect 8 hours’ worth of data on a fair-weather weekday (ideally June 1st) and for 2 hours on Saturday or Sunday (June 5 & 6). We are only asking for a single two-hour shift from each volunteer, which will be scheduled by local ambassadors in pilot cities. In other cities/communities, please aim to collect data in one of the following time slots: 

    • Weekday morning: 7-9am 
    • Weekday lunch: 11-1pm 
    • Weekday mid afternoon: 2-4pm 
    • Weekday late afternoon: 4-6pm 

Weekend afternoon: 12-2pm (Saturday, or count on Sunday as an alternate)

Yes, please count people on e-bikes. We are counting riders rather than bikes so the type of bike is not a variable we can count this year. Do not count people riding vespa-style scooters or mopeds.

Yes, we are counting riders rather than bikes. This means if there are two or more people on a single bike, you should count each person, e.g., parent with child in a bike seat or in a trailer.

Yes, if you are alone, you should always count cycle traffic approaching the screen line from both directions. If the site is busy, you may need to select ‘other/unsure’ for some cyclists to keep up with the high volumes.

In pilot cities, you may be paired with another observer at very busy sites and times; in which case, you will count cyclist traffic from one direction only. Special CounterPoints labelled with the site name and direction of travel will be created for this purpose (e.g., Seaside- Northbound and Seaside- Southbound).

Observers should count all the cyclists that cross the screen line. If a large group of cyclists approaches, we recommend that you select ‘other/unsure’ when responding to the demographic categories to speed up data entry. While you will be omitting demographic information, you will still be counting the cyclists. Resume recording demographic characteristics as soon as you’re able.

In pilot cities, at busier times and locations, two counters will be assigned at a single site, so each person observes cycle traffic from one direction only. Special counterpoints labelled with the direction of cyclist travel to observe will be created for this purpose.

If you’re alone and a throng of cyclists approaches the screen line, you can click ‘other/unsure’ for each demographic category – up to all three! This will still give us total cyclist count data.

Yes, count every person on a bike that passes the imaginary line straight in front of you. Standing on one side of the road or path, count cyclists on the sidewalk, multi-use path, roadway travel lane, painted bike lane, cycle track, etc. Ignore those in the distant background.

Count every cyclist that crosses the screen line, even if you recognize them as ‘previously counted’. Just like with an automated counter, every cyclist crossing the screen line is counted.

On hills where cyclists typically dismount for the climb, screen lines should be sited nearer the base or crest of the hill to avoid missing cyclists. Cyclists dismount for many reasons, and may walk their bike for extended periods – we cannot know the reason or length of time of the dismount. In their dismounted state, the person is a pedestrian and does not meet the criterion of ‘cyclist’, that is, a person astride a pedal cycle.

Not this year, but that is a good suggestion for a variable to add in subsequent counts!

For screen line traffic counts, the sites are always established at mid-block locations (the segment between two intersecting roads or paths), not at intersections. Traffic will always move in one or two directions across a screen line.

For guidance on selecting sites, please refer to an earlier FAQ titled: My city isn’t listed as a pilot city. How do I select a good place to count?

Counting cyclists using CounterPoint requires a mobile device with cellular data. The app will not load and you won’t be able to save your count data without an active internet connection. We recognise that not everyone has access to or need for a mobile device with cellular data. We developed a paper-based counting form that can be downloaded from the Pedal Poll website. Once you complete a shift using a paper-based form, please take a photo or scan each page of the form (including the cover page) and email it to pedalpoll2021@gmail.com. All paper form count data will be manually entered by the Pedal Poll team.

No. We recommend that if you use the paper count form method, please take a photo or scan all pages of the form (including the cover page) and email it to pedalpoll2021@gmail.com and we will do the rest. Transferring your count data from paper count forms to the CounterPoint app will present significant issues as the system will date and timestamp your data at the time of data entry, which may be hours or days after the count was actually conducted. At that point, we will have no way to know the correct day or time of your count nor a way to fix the erroneous timestamp.

You can get forms printed at Staples, your local library, or any available printing or copying centre for a small fee (~12¢ per page for b/w). In some of the pilot cities, ambassadors will also be able to provide you with copies of the paper form.

Yes, you can count at an existing counterpoint close to your home, or you can create a new one. Choose a location where there are people cycling, such as along a designated cycling route. Remember to join the ‘Pedal Poll Canada’ team before counting so we can locate your data within the global database.

We anticipate that all volunteers will receive their schedules over the weekend (28-30 May). Ambassadors are volunteers, too, so please be patient as we work through the process.

It is ok to count at those locations. We are interested in finding out what is happening on COVID-related street changes, even if temporary.

That depends on the city. We are getting more people signing up by the hour. Schedules are being drafted and we will be working with the local ambassadors to decide whether we need more volunteers, more locations, or even reduce the number of locations.

That depends on the city. We are getting more people signing up by the hour so this makes it hard for us to provide a definitive answer. We also can’t share Pedal Poll registrants’ contact info, but the national coordinator  can ask people if they want to be connected with others in their community. Email ed@canadabikes.org to submit a request.

Either your local Ambassador can sign for those, or Vélo Canada Bikes can vouch for your time. The app will have time and date stamps on your count, so we can verify your volunteer hours for you.

Over 800 volunteers in more than 80 communities are participating in Pedal Poll. All data will be used to compile the dataset for analysis, even if not from a pilot city.  This is the 1st national cyclist count. We will build from here and the count data you contribute from your community this year will establish a baseline for future counts.

Typically ‘no’, as you should arrive at your count site about 10 minutes before your scheduled start time.

No, not yet, but this will be a feature available in the future. For now, Android users will need to enter data by tapping response buttons.

We appreciate this may feel uncomfortable and ask you to give your best guess. 

The reason this is important is because we know that some communities are under-served when it comes to cycling infrastructure. We view cycling as a great tool for building equity in our community. We recognize that the data collected will be based on “perception”, and as such, have all the inherent biases and inaccuracies. We also anticipate a lot of unknown/uncertainty within the selections, in general, and with the added complications of riders who may be wearing masks because of the pandemic. But, we feel it is still important to try and get a sense of who is riding out there, and where they are riding. 

As such, we have kept age and gender to very broad categories. When it comes to perceived ethnicity, this is the most challenging. We spent a lot of time talking to researchers and other community representatives in deciding whether we can ethically do this, and how we can do it. This is the result of many months of working through all those challenging questions.

We used the Government of Ontario’s guidelines for “Participant Observer Information of Race”.  https://www.ontario.ca/document/data-standards-identification-and-monitoring-systemic-racism/standards-participant-observer-information-poi-race

We have a lot more background on the Poll and how we got to where we are on our project website https://www.canadabikes.org/pedalpoll/getinvolved/ 

This is a complex question worthy of a few considerations. 

First, although we ask that everyone be as rigorous as they feel they can be, no one person will be able to skew the data just messing their counts up. Know that when someone sets out to collect large volumes of data, like we are here, a key role for those designing the methodology – or anyone interpreting them – is knowing the limits of accuracy, and accounting for user error or input variation, especially with a crowdsourced, sensitive and subjective topic like this. 

Second, note that user error or input variation can often be predictable – that makes it possible to be further investigated separately. Part of the value of this process will be in helping us better understand to what degree of accuracy can demographic based traffic counts be conducted. That means not everything needs to be right the first time. We can still look at the data relative to other other data sets or subsequent studies, such as self-reported data in the census for example, intercept surveys, video recordings with trained experts, etc.

 

Thirdly, when dealing with perceived demographic info, there is no wrong or right answer. There are only patterns in reported data. 

Lastly, although we do not control how the data will be used in perpetuity nor are we responsible for targeting services or funding per se, all data is meant to help us all make better decisions somehow. While we certainly hope it will influence policy-making in some way, we don’t think it will be used to make the type of community-specific project decisions suggested in this question, but rather will contribute to an important narrative about racialized communities and the use of space. 

As with all observed data, we simply ask you to do the best you can, and as a volunteer, everything you do is right and we are very grateful for your help.

We would still welcome your participation! Simply choose unsure whenever you feel unsure and do your best. Accurate and detailed knowledge of ethnic makeup is not necessary or expected here and, remember, ethnicity is a fluid thing and best self reported anyway. There may be some ethnic groups you feel more comfortable identifying (some people who identify as a given ethnicity feel more capable of guessing someone’s else’s lineage if they look like them, for example). That’s OK. It is really up to you. Regardless, there is value in measuring perceived age and gender alone, since even just those two categories will tell us something about the way our streets are working for different populations

Don’t drop out! If you don’t know the gender or ethnicity of a cyclist, just choose ‘other/unsure’ for the relevant demographic category. Remember, there are no wrong answers here. Ethnicity is fluid and usually self-reported. Do your best and know that it’s the bigger picture that matters.

Counts will be completed at the end of the first week of June, after which, we will begin the process of collecting and entering count data captured on the paper count forms. The datasets will be compiled and cleaned in June with analysis to begin in July. Report writing will start soon thereafter and continue until early August. The drafts will go through several rounds of peer-review and we expect a final draft will be published in early September.

Count data collected through the CounterPoint app can be downloaded from the Counterpoint website. Cities typically publish their cyclist count data from automated counters (e.g., Eco-Counters) on their Open Data portal.

The number of pilot cities is set at 14 this year and cannot be changed. If you’d like to suggest counterpoint sites in your community, there are two ways you may do this: 

    1. If you’re in a pilot city, contact ed@canadabikes.org to make the suggestion. The number of sites (each requiring 10-20 hours of volunteer time, depending on traffic volumes) needs to be indexed to local volunteer capacity, so additional sites may not be possible.
    2. Outside of pilot cities, you can create a new counterpoint at your discretion. Please refer to the guidance in an earlier FAQ on how to choose sites: My city isn’t listed as a pilot city. How do I select a good place to count?

We recommended count times that best capture a representative sample of cyclist traffic. For weekend days, that’s between 12:00-14:00. Instead of adding time periods, we recommend that communities with extra volunteer capacity on weekends add count sites. An alternative would be to repeat the Saturday counts on Sunday.

If you feel the count is accurate, save it! If you are just doing a test, or trying it out, skip the saving step to avoid negatively impacting the accuracy of CounterPoint’s database. There are fake test sites you can use if you just want to have a whirl saving the count form (check out Antarctica…), otherwise, simply end your count and choose the “delete” option. For the analysis, we will be pulling the data collected during the official count days and times. We will know which data to pull as all data entered using CounterPoint is team ID tagged and date and time stamped.

Pedal Poll is supported in part by funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

We thank the following organizations for their generous contributions to Pedal Poll:

Vélo Canada Bikes
Copyright © 2021 All Rights Reserved

Thank you to everyone who has participated in Pedal Poll 2021! The count has been completed and registration is closed until further notice.