Lori Kessler and the Healthy Harvey Coalition moved the annual bike count to later on the calendar this year, hoping for better weather.
“We have changed the date over the years. We used to do the first week of May and we had very unpredictable weather,” Kessler said. “We want to take a snapshot of what biking looks like in Newton and North Newton.”
The Annual Newton and North Newton Bike Counts will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday. Volunteers are needed to count bicyclists.
Of course, Kessler acknowledged, that in May it is hard to know about what kind of weather will welcome the event — one of a couple of unknowns going into the annual count.
Another unknown is what to expect from a count being done during a pandemic.
“I never know what to expect, regardless of what is going on health-wise,” Kessler said. “... I tell you just from looking at people’s posts on Facebook and seeing what is happening as I travel from place to place, I see more people out walking and biking. I do not know if that will translate into the counts. We are going to find out.”
The count is a joint effort of Newton, North Newton and the Healthy Harvey Coalition, starting in 2015 as Healthy Harvey and others began working on a master bike plan for the city of Newton.
Locations were picked based on existing bicycle infrastructure and possible expansions to that infrastructure.
“Some of the locations are on the Sand Creek Trail. Some are on roads that will have bike lanes or sharrows on them,” Kessler said. “Some are places that we do not plan to place infrastructure on them like Main Street just so we can see what is happening and to know what is happening.”
The count is a gauge of the Health Harvey and Roll Harvey’s effectiveness over the past few years. It checks for increases in bike ridership and missed spots for infrastructure under the master plan.
“This is, ’Lets take a picture of biking in the two towns every year just so we know what is happening,’ “ Kessler said.
For more information or to volunteer contact Kessler at 316-283-5667.
“If you don’t volunteer, just get out and ride around town that day,” Kessler said.