Safer cities through GPS data

Governments begin to utilise cycling GPS data to aid urban planning

Much of the difficulty for governments in providing adequate facilities for city cycling, comes from simply not always knowing where provision is most urgently needed. For the first time though, governments are considering using data recorded by cycling GPS devices to understand which roads are most frequently used, helping city planners to make roads safer.

Strava are the first company to provide such data, with local governments of London and Glasgow opting in for the information.

While planners have been able to strategise for investment in infrastructure for cars for some time with the amount of data available, increasing knowledge about bicycle use can substantiate better and more wise investments for cyclists, particularly with more people choosing to commute by bike around major cities like London.

Oregon, USA was reported to be first local government in the world to fully commit to the project, investing heavily in the data. Jennifer Dill, a professor at Portland State University’s School of Urban Studies and Planning praised the move, telling the Wall Street Journal, “right now, there’s no data. We don’t know where people ride bikes. Just knowing where the cyclists are is a start.”

However, there are some concerns over the notion of companies selling user data to governments for profit, though any information provided is due to be anonymised so it isn’t known who has specifically ridden certain routes.

If the first use of GPS data proves successful in this respect, it could signal greater strategic investment for urban cyclists where they need it most.