Bikedata beta – data for campaigning

This article was published in 2017, in Newsletter 135.

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CycleStreets is a not-for-profit social enterprise based in Cambridge. We’re a kind of spin-off from the Cambridge Cycling Campaign, set up in 2009 to provide online cycle journey planning as well as tools for campaigners.

We’ve been working on a new website, Bikedata (working title), providing cycle campaigners around the UK with a ‘one-stop shop’ for data that helps back up their invaluable campaigning work.

We’ve just launched an open beta of the site: ready for you to try out, but we know there are bugs.

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Helping campaigners campaign

Getting more people cycling means improving the infrastructure on our streets so that everyone, whatever ability or level of confidence, is able to cycle easily and safely.

To achieve this, cycling campaign groups around the country work daily to make the case for cycling.

They look at traffic consultations, propose changes to the highway, scrutinise planning applications, and work with local people and their local council to achieve these improvements.

Getting changes on the ground involves making a solid factual case for improvements as well as an emotional one. For instance, reducing speed limits to tame traffic relies on having good access to collision data to demonstrate that there is a problem.

Thanks to a Fellowship grant from London-based web development co-operative Outlandish, we’ve been working on Bikedata.

Data for campaigning

The site gives open access, visualised on a map, to UK data for:

  • collisions
  • planning applications
  • traffic counts
  • cycleability ratings of streets
  • cycle theft
  • cycle parking locations
  • trip length
  • problems reported by cyclists
  • issues reported on Cyclescape
  • over 76,000 located photos
  • UK campaign groups

In most cases, you can use filtering controls to show what you want to see. For instance, perhaps you’d like to see all the reported places where cycle parking is needed. Or you can filter collision data to show serious/fatal incidents at junctions.

Some layers also have an export facility, so that you can easily obtain a spreadsheet of the same data as the map is showing.

You can enable multiple layers at once. Our aim with this in the future will be to enable various correlations, e.g. showing how high pollution and traffic levels in an area might result in low levels of cycling. You can also (again, in most but not all cases) draw over an area to filter for that.

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The site is also mobile-friendly, so you can get all this on the move.

Next steps

Things we want to do include:

  • change the user interface so that it automatically ‘tells a story’
  • add charting to show change over time, ‘telling a story’. For instance, you could filter collisions and draw over a street to show how things have changed on that street over time, perhaps demonstrating how new cycle infrastructure has made things safer.
  • add more data layers, e.g. pollution, census trip data, school travel data, accessibility analysis… and more!
  • add heatmap views of several layers
  • enable comparisons between Local Authority areas
  • add a proper design and interface as the current UI is essentially a prototype. Are you a designer that could help?
  • adding more filtering controls
  • add permalink URLs to enable all views to be persistent dd permalink URLs and so enable all views to be viewed; currently this is only partially working.

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We’re on the lookout for funding to enable us to develop this further. We’ve achieved everything you see with under £7,000 of funding, so think how much further the site could go.

If you have any ideas for how we could obtain funding to support any of the above developments, please do get in touch via the feedback link at the bottom of the Bikedata site.

Also, code contributions are very welcome – the code is open source and on Github at www.github.com/cyclestreets and should be very easy to start working on, so let us know if you need advice, or just submit pull requests!

Lastly

What should we call this site? Bikedata is just a working title, and not a particularly imaginative one at that! Let us know your thoughts.

Martin Lucas-Smith

CycleStreets
bikedata.cyclestreets.net