New Project: Mobile-Device Data, Non-Motorized Traffic Monitoring, and Estimation of Annual Average Daily Bicyclist and Pedestrian Flows

Understanding pedestrian and bicyclist flows is vital to distributing a limited construction budget to new infrastructure for improved safety on specific roads. Unfortunately, statewide data collection for active transportation flows is challenging.

MnDOT and local agencies historically have lacked estimates of bicycle and pedestrian traffic on Trunk Highways and County State Aid Highways.

Since about 2016, MnDOT has begun monitoring bicycle and pedestrian flow at more than 25 locations across the state, but, given the small number of counters and the variability of flows in response to variations in weather across Minnesota, these monitoring data are insufficient for estimation of Annual Average Daily Bicyclists and Annual Average Daily Pedestrians.

One option for obtaining travel data without expensive infrastructure is relying on mobile data collection.


A new research project will review and synthesize information to determine which mobile device data platforms and data sets would allow additional bicyclist and pedestrian travel information to be gathered and analyzed as part of future traffic detection systems. The synthesis will aim to present benefits and challenges of using each data source based on MnDOT’s desired applications so that MnDOT can better address future bicyclist and pedestrian safety, risk assessments, investment needs and funding decisions along and across trunk highways and local roads.


Researchers will conduct a thorough review of mobile data sources, including their availability to MnDOT and the quality of data obtained. They will select sites for data collection and/or validation, where they will manually count pedestrians and bicyclists for comparison with mobile-sourced data. With modeling, they will visualize the predicted pedestrian and bicyclist flows for the seven counties comprising the Twin Cities metropolitan area and integrate them with MnDOT’s system.

“This project will explore development of a software tool which incorporates mobile device data to better understand bicycle and pedestrian flows, vital to addressing safety and mobility needs for these transportation system users,” explained Michael Petesch, pedestrian and bicyclist data coordinator, MnDOT Office of Transit and Active Transportation.

Project Details

Details of the research study work plan and timeline are subject to change.

To receive email updates about this project, visit MnDOT’s Office of Research & Innovation to subscribe.

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