Patrick McGeehan of the New York Times City Room blog has an interesting post on how to count visitors to parks, especially for well attended beaches and large public events. The case in point here is counting users of New York City public beaches. McGeehan describes how it is difficult to merely go around an event or a beach and just count people, and gets this advice from the National Park Service.
Instead, Mr. Street and his colleagues do what he suggested the city’s park supervisors try. They find something they can count, like cars in a parking lot, and use that number as a reference point for measuring attendance.
At Orchard Beach in the Bronx, for example, the city could survey people on the beach to determine how many of them came by car, then count the cars to arrive at a ratio of people to cars. Similarly, at Coney Island, he said, they could determine how many of the beachgoers rode the subway to the terminal at Stillwell Avenue, then find out from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority how many people got off trains there that day.
“I try to find something that’s a good fixed number,” Mr. Street said. “Bad numbers are just bad numbers,” he said. “You can’t use them for anything.”
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