Curious to know how many vehicles travel through your community?
The City of Calgary is making transportation data that has been collected in Calgary more easily accessible. Using a new web application called the Calgary Traffic Counts System or CalTRACS, you can now search The City’s transportation data.
Data in CalTRACS displays counts of pedestrians, bicyclists, and vehicles at intersections and on streets across the city. There are also data on the number of pedestrians using crosswalks, the types of vehicles and the speeds of vehicles travelling on selected streets.
“The introduction of CalTRACS makes us one of the first cities in Canada to share the transportation data that we have collected online – and at no additional cost to the public,” says Transportation Data and Forecasting manager, Ekke Kok.
The idea to develop a system that would have all The City’s transportation data online began more than three years ago. “Our existing database was more than 15 years old and we needed to build a database that could handle new study types. Also, providing the public direct access to this information was a priority for us,” says Kok. “After researching commercial products, we decided to develop a system in-house. I am extremely proud of the team that developed CalTRACS, creating a unique application to fit our needs and for about 30 percent less than an equivalent commercial product.”
The oldest traffic count found on CalTRACS dates back to 1971 at 1 Street and 7 Avenue S.E. Back then, 6,365 vehicles were southbound on 1 Street and in 2018 there were 8,456 vehicles counted over six-hour period. Of course, with the implementation of the 7th Avenue LRT line, the vehicular traffic east/west dropped from 3,000 vehicles in 1971 to just a few buses in 2018.
Viewing this information is an opportunity for citizens to identify travel trends in their community. This web tool will also be useful for professionals who help assess The City’s need for new infrastructure and develop future plans to accommodate Calgary’s growth.
The City collects the data stored in CalTRACS to help decision makers make informed decisions on how to manage Calgary’s transportation system. For instance, the data is used on an ongoing basis to help The City to decide where to install crosswalks or make road marking changes to improve safety in a community.Curious to learn how The City collects this data? Well, there are different methods that are used. One way is where data collectors wearing a safety vest and carrying a BlueBox (an electronic counter also developed in-house) go to selected streets. As the vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians pass through a street, the data collector records the traffic by pressing buttons on the electronic counter. You can see data collectors out there on Calgary’s roadways counting from April to October.
Data is also collected using hoses that are placed across the road and these hoses detect movement as vehicles drive over them. Next time, you see a tube across the street, you will know The City is counting traffic.
“It’s important to note that not all streets in Calgary are counted,” explains Kok. “The City decides what streets to count based on a schedule (outlined once every 3 to 5 years) or for other municipal purposes. Roads in developing areas are counted more frequently than roads in developed areas. Or the Roads business unit may need a traffic count to time a traffic signal.”