Alec Gosse rides his bike to work at a Charlottesville company that analyzes data, and this year he was working on a PhD in environmental engineering. Those interests led him to try and solve a problem daunting city planners.
“There was no data for how many bikes were using various roads in the city. It just didn’t exist.”
Without that information, they didn’t know where to make road improvements for cyclists.
“If you were deciding say between putting a bike lane on one street or on another street – or putting a bike lane on ten streets or building one very fancy off street path.”
Hiring people to count would be very expensive, with so many streets around town, and bike traffic varies from day to day. When UVA is in session, there would probably be more. When snow is falling, there would likey be none. So Gosse came up with a better idea. VDOT and the city have cameras at many major intersections to better synchronize stop lights with traffic. With $40,000 in funding from the University of Virginia Alumni Association, Gosse and another graduate student, Emmanuel Denloye-Ito created software that could review video from those cameras, identify and count bikes. It wasn’t easy.