Friday, December 5, 2014

Curious about the Cordon Count?

For the first time, The City of Calgary is releasing the information collected in the Central Business District (CBD) cordon count. Every May, The City of Calgary conducts a cordon count which collects data on how people travel into and out of downtown Calgary. This helps us understand how people are travelling now and how they will likely travel in the future, so we can better plan Calgary’s transportation system.

The 2014 data gives us a breakdown of how many people are driving, walking, biking or using transit.

Over time, the data has shown that less people are travelling into and out of downtown by car, and more people are using transit, walking, or biking.

Transportation Data counts all pedestrians, bicyclists, transit passengers, and vehicle drivers and passengers, entering and exiting the downtown area. Data from the downtown area is used to examine changes in the transportation mode split and to monitor the goals set out in the Calgary Transportation Plan.

The cordon count:
  • Tells us how many people are walking, biking, using transit or driving vehicles
  • Helps us monitor how the existing road system and transit facilities are used, and the impact of growth on these facilities
  • Identifies emerging travel trends
  • Assesses the need for new infrastructure
  • Allows us to develop policies towards more sustainable transportation options
How the Data is Collected
The cordon count is performed at about 30 locations around the CBD over a three week time period. Data collectors are positioned at each cordon crossing location from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and they count every single person entering or exiting the downtown and how they were travelling; whether on foot, by bicycle, on a C-Train or bus, as a passenger in a car or as the driver of car.

Each location is counted on only one day per year and numbers can be impacted by weather or events happening in the area. However, because it takes three weeks to count the entire cordon, the weather and community activity averages out to provide a more accurate understanding of downtown travel activity.

Check out numbers of the cordon count to see this year’s travel trends.


  1. No idea why they post real people at these locations. 30 strategically positioned go-pro cameras recording every day and played back at high speed an counted by a person in front of a computer would lead to far more reliable and more cheaply obtained metrics.

    1. Real people are needed to conduct the cordon count so we can determine how many passengers are in each car, bus or train. A camera can’t affordably capture that information as well as a person. We do, however, use cameras at locations where we don’t need to count vehicle occupants such as at pedestrian bridges. Those cameras (made by a Canadian company called MioVision) use software to analyse the video and do the counting for us so that a person doesn't need to sit and watch the video.