By Kate Cagle
Cyclists heading down Main Street in front of city hall will get a chance to see their numbers add up because of a new “Eco-TOTEM” installed near the bike line.
In real-time, a digital counter will keep track of daily and annual bike riders on a bright green LED display. Similar bike counters are already in use around the world, including sites in Portland, Oregon and Montreal, Canada.
“Our goal is to see how quickly we can get to a million cyclists,” Mayor Ted Winterer said to a crowd of about a dozen cycling enthusiasts and environmentalists at Wednesday’s unveiling.
Mayor Winterer rode his 20-year-old Specialized bike to the ceremony and proudly parked it in the mayor’s designated parking spot, flanked on both sides by cars. He says his family-of-four has five bikes and just one car, underscoring his support for cycling in the city.
Over the past few years, the city has worked to encourage bicycling to ease traffic, decrease greenhouse gas emissions, and promote a health lifestyle. Six years ago, city leaders unveiled a “Bicycle Action Plan” to encourage locals to bike. In 2013, the City Council voted to expand green bike lanes on Main Street between Colorado Avenue and Ozone Avenue and on Broadway between 6th Street and Centinela Avenue to connect popular destinations. Today, more than 43,000 people subscribe to Breeze Bike Share, the green bicycle rental service throughout Santa Monica. Locals make up about half of the Breeze trips taken every year.
The bike counter will now allow the city to keep track of the popularity of the Main Street route.
“It’s part of the long-term procedure we’ve undergone to give people more options,” Councilmember Kevin McKeown said. “You don’t have to get out of your car but now there’s an opportunity that you can.”
Eventually, the counter on Main Street will be connected to a website where the public can see the numbers for themselves. For now, you’ll have to head over to city hall to get a glimpse at LED display.
“It’s huge,” said Cynthia Rose, director for Santa Monica Spoke, a bicycle advocacy group that works to improve biking.
“It’s a symbol of the city’s dedication to biking and multi-modal transportation. It’s all party of this synergy that’s building.”
The manufacturer of Eco-TOTEM claims the aluminum frame and polycarbonate coating are shock-resistant and graffiti proof. They have placed more than 100 bike counters around the world, with the busiest locations in Denmark and France, each tracking well over 1.5 million bike trips so far this year.