Sofia will soon have its first two stations for automated counting of bicycles moving around the city. The data so far came either from manual counting by volunteers at key locations or from the results of surveys among the citizens.

The data about the number of bicycles in cities are used to help plan and develop urban infrastructure and organize traffic. In Europe, bicycle counting stations have been shown to raise awareness of this type of transport, increase road safety and tolerance, and encourage more people to use their bicycles. Accurate data also ensures policy transparency and civic participation.

The first two bicycle counting stations will be developed by students at the Technical University of Sofia and the Technical University of Gabrovo. The Sofia Development Association for and Sofia Municipality in partnership with TU - Sofia and TU - Gabrovo announced a challenge for development of an automated counting station for bicycles. The winning projects will receive funding to be developed into working prototypes and installed near the main bike lanes in Sofia. The competition allows the students to practice their knowledge and show their talent by offering solutions for more sustainable transport and cleaner air in Sofia.

The competition is held within the INNOAIR project, the first and so far the only project from Bulgaria, co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the Urban Innovative Actions Initiative. The project introduces for the first time in Europe on-demand public transport, as well as for the first time in Sofia and Bulgaria low emission zone, green corridors, and the mobile application SofiaCoin with prizes for active transport. However, sustainable urban mobility still has many dimensions.

"Automated bicycle counting will be definitely necessary in the future, so it is important to start the process together with the future engineers. I hope this will be not only for the benefit of the city, but also a career springboard for the young professionals that Sofia needs," said Yordanka Fandakova, Mayor of Sofia.

"Competitions like this, in which students, with the help of their teachers, not only seek solutions to real cases, but also have a chance to turn them into real products and services, show the link between higher education, local government and industry. The competition helped us to develop new partnerships.” Prof. Iliya Slavov Zhelezarov, PhD, Rector, Technical University of Gabrovo.

"By designing and creating a real prototype, students from the Faculty of Electronic Engineering and Technology (FETT) at the Technical University will increase their skills for solving real problems, achieve a better understanding of the issue and increase their competitiveness and opportunities for realization on the labor market. The cooperation between the teams of TU-Sofia and the Sofia Development Association leads to increasing the level of education of students from TU-Sofia and the opportunity to deal with real problems of everyday life of Sofia residents." Assoc. Prof. Dimitar Nikolov, PhD, Technical University of Sofia.

You can follow up-to-date information about the competitions on the Facebook event.