The urban bike magazine

Heatmap – Visualisation of cycle traffic

Always with these facts and figures! For mathematicians, they belong to everyday life, but how many of us can actually imagine slightly below 2 tonnes of CO2, or 300,000 travelled kilometres? Sometimes we simply lack reference to such statements. Therefore, Bike Citizens has been engaged in different methods over a long period of time for making numbers and comparisons more tangible. The heatmap method of visualisation has emerged as an essential element.

Cycled to the moon 5 times

Over the past five years, around 2 million kilometres, in over 400 cities, have been cycled by cyclists using the Bike Citizens bicycle App. Put it another way, this means that the Bike Citizens community has cycled a distance equivalent to the moon, 5 times. That’s quite a lot! But who can claim to have driven to the Moon? No, that’s also probably not a good comparison to imagine. What would it be like to have a video in which movement flows and kilometres travelled are represented as a heatmap? That’s what the makers of Bike Citizens thought. They then created an end-of-the-year review for Bremen, Vienna, London and Madrid in which it could be seen where and when cyclists were on the road.

During rush hours, a heatmap looks similar to an anthill. Even in the early hours of the morning there are quite a number of people who travel by bike. Heatmaps provide a good way to visualise patterns of movement – for the community, but also for individuals – create your personal heatmap. A look at the activity overview within the Bike Citizens App shows how large the personal route knowledge is and how many other routes can yet be discovered. The route knowledge is defined by the number of individual routes travelled using the app in the users city – compared to the ratio of all routes able to be walked or cycled on. A look at the activity overview shows how large the route knowledge is and how many other routes can yet be discovered.

Personal Heatmap within the Bike Citizens App

personal Heatmap and Wegschatz

Heatmaps for city planning

Bike Citizens strives to make cycling more accessible in cities for many people and to positively influence city planning – doing so with a more efficient evaluation of cycling data through the self-developed bicycle App. A undertaking by which each individual cyclist can make their own contribution. App users optionally submit their records and in this way, provide records which aid for city planning purposes. Heatmaps are formed by the anonymous App users “activity data” being evaluated and shown in heatmaps. Heatmaps displays frequently travelled routes in highlighted colours and provides mobility behaviour information about everyday cyclists. An example where heatmaps could be beneficial in practice, is by Goldschlagstraße in Vienna. Goldschlagstrasse was recently opened for cycle traffic. The Bike Citizens heatmap demonstrates the need for an opening.

One year of pedal power-heatmap

With heatmaps being created in this way, the results are a new and more complete map of our urban environment. For this overall picture, the resulting behavioural patterns that appear are of great importance: “Congestion is here every morning”, “Over there should really be a bicycle path” or “This crossing is avoided – could the reason be a lack of safety?” Experiences such as these can help by beneficial decision making in city planning and for the implementation of necessary improvements (such as construction measures against congestion). Therefore, every cyclist has the opportunity to contribute positively and influence the future measures taken in their living environment. By implementing this objective, Bike Citizens can build on the findings from numerous research projects. Currently, for example, the feasibility of analytical tools for the analysis of the recorded cycling data is being researched in a study entitled “Space-Tech for Cycling” (link only available in German) for the European Space Agency, ESA.

There are now heatmaps for almost all 350 cities – if you want to see the heatmap of your city, then please contact us at

Foto © Bike Citizens

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