How many vehicles drive through your community?

The City of Calgary is launching its new traffic reporting system, The Calgary Transit Count System (CalTRACS), in an attempt to make data that has been gathered more accessible. The data in CalTRACS shows everything from pedestrians and cyclists to the number of vehicles at intersections, the types and speeds of vehicles on the road and how many people use crosswalks. “The introduction of CalTRACS makes us one of the first cities in Canada to share transportation data that we have collected online – and at no additional cost to the public,” says Transportation Data and Forecasting Manager, Ekke Kok.


The database that was being used previously for studies was over fifteen years old and the city saw the need to come up with a system that could handle new studies and be available to the public. The CalTRACS system has now been in the works for over three years and has information all the way back to 1971 at the intersection of 1 Street and 7 Avenue SE. Back then, the city saw 6,365 vehicles driving southbound that year. In 2018, that same intersection saw 8,456 vehicles in six hours. It really goes to show how much Calgary has grown over the last few decades. Another example is 7 Avenue downtown with the C-train line built on it; traffic fell from 3,000 vehicles in 1971 to only a few buses in 2018.


You’re probably thinking, so what? Why does this matter to me? Well, viewing this information is an opportunity for Calgarians 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. CalTRACS is currently being used by the city to decide where to build new crosswalks or where to change road markings to make intersections or stretches of road safer for everyone.


Now, how are they getting all of this information? From April to October, the city has data collectors go out to intersections and use a BlueBox, which is an electric counter developed by the city to count all pedestrians, cars and cyclists that go through the intersection. They also place down hoses that count traffic as it passes over it. “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 3-5 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 even need a traffic count to time a traffic signal.”


Now that you have the ability to look at traffic patterns in your neighbourhood and throughout the city, you can start figuring out which route will be best to arrive at your destination at any given time. Plus, you can now watch the city grow year after year.



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