A cycle network from Big data: How digitisation and the participation of citizens in Styria create the cycle path network of the future
The province of Styria pursues the vision of being a bicycle friendly region. The cycle traffic strategy of the province of Styria helps to achieve the underlying goals. This is also where the cycle network study fits in, which will be prepared in 2019. Its purpose is to ensure that the cycling infrastructure is conceived across borders. You can also contribute to better cycle traffic strategies in the future.
The city for people: A thought experiment
Imagine there are trees growing in your city. There, where until recently, white lines were marked on the centre of the road. You breathe deeply – wonderful fresh, clean air. Right in the heart of the city. On your way to friends, you see children playing – in areas which were previously reserved for car parking. Green oases and gardens line the playgrounds, and a small fitness circuit. You are already looking forward to the return journey, past the marigold meadow.
Wait a moment! Your dream of life in the city stops at the city limits. The quality of your cycle path leaves a lot to be desired. How is that possible? And: How can that be avoided?
“The cycle network study is a strategic element in order to make cycling in the Styrian agglomeration area even more attractive.” DI Dr. Peter Sturm, Amt der Steiermärkischen Landesregierung, Abt. 16 – Verkehr und Landeshochbau
Where does the cycle network start? Where does it end?
Let’s jump from the thought experiment to the green heart of Austria: Styria. In some municipalities, cycle paths have a higher priority than in the neighbouring municipalities. The result: Several cycle paths (networks) that can not cover the needs of cycle traffic, such as continuous cycle connections.
The cycle network study of the Styrian agglomeration area, which is part of the cycle traffic strategy 2025 of the province of Styria, would like to counter this: In order to meet the mobility needs of citizens, a continuous, well developed cycle path network across borders is required.
This is where the cycle network study starts: Its aim is to create a planning basis for a (municipal) cross border, well developed cycle path network. In addition, it should serve as the basis for financial support for cycling infrastructure projects. “The cycle network study is a strategic element in order to make cycling in the Styrian agglomeration area even more attractive.” That is what Peter Sturm from the Office of the Styrian Provincial Government, Department 16 -Transport and Provincial Building, commented about the project.
Styria province as a pioneer in cycle traffic digitisation
As part of the cycle network study, a strategic network of cycle paths will be developed on the basis of GPS cycle traffic data and additional information will be provided on where and how many bicycle parking facilities are necessary.
Together with the traffic planning company PLANUM Fallast Tischler & Partner GmbH and the Institute of Road and Transportation (ISV) of the Graz University of Technology, Bike Citizens has been working on the project since autumn 2018 commisioned by the Styria province.
For this purpose, the flowing cycle traffic is considered closely. The resting cycle traffic is also examined in order to be able to make statements about where and in which quantity bicycle parking facilities will be necessary.
The planning focus is on Graz and municipalities in the south of Graz, because this region particularly is growing due to strong influx and there are new jobs and housing developments. The results are expected for the end of 2019.
What GPS cycle traffic data can do
As a basis for various scientific studies, such as currently in the cycle network study, GPS cycle traffic data provide an image of digitised cycle traffic with the highest information density: GPS points are recorded every second and provide not only position information but also related information such as source-destination links, route selection, waiting time, or average speeds on a road segment basis. Deviations from the shortest and actually driven route and potentials for cycle infrastructure measures can also be derived from the available data.
Thanks to the many years of cooperation between the Province of Styria and Bike Citizens, in which the use of the Bike Citizens App was promoted and the App was (and will be) increasingly used, a comprehensive data basis is available. Compared to data from sports tracking apps, these are not focused on sports cycling but capture everyday bicycle use. An extremely relevant path for traffic planning, as the morning peak hour in traffic is largely defined by the commuter traffic.
The first step is to clean up the GPS data basis. Next is a comparison of the counting points, as well as a calibration of the traffic model of the Graz University of Technology.
Finally, the future cycling potential will be calculated if there is an ideal network of cycle paths with additional crossings over railway lines or the river Mur, or also additional connections between individual municipalities in the south of Graz.
In order to prevent the dream world from ending at the municipal boundary, there is a regular exchange with municipal and city representatives, for example through workshops and presentations of the interim results.
Can children play tomorrow where there are parking spaces today? Contribute to it! Track your journeys – for the future of mobility and a safe cycling infrastructure.
From benefit for yourself to the benefit of all, or: From supply orientation to needs based orientation
With the Bike Citizens App, cyclists have the opportunity to donate their tracked cycling data and thereby do something good for the entire cycling community (always in line with the EU GDPR). Therefore, the utility of the App goes well beyond the own benefit that it brings. Personal data becomes Big data and these serve a higher value in community and society.
Contribute so that children will soon play in areas that are still reserved for cars today. So, download the Bike Citizens App now and provide tracks for the promotion, planning and research regarding cycle traffic. With your help, we pave the way from supply oriented planning to needs-based planning.