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Martin Lucas-Smith
26 Aug 2016

Cyclestreets – making crucial data available for campaigners

We’re really pleased to announce that we’ve been awarded an Outlandish Fellowship to help support development of tools for local cycle campaigners. We’re going to be expanding our collisions data pages into a broader resource covering more types of data (e.g. traffic counts, pollution) and add lots of new ways to access it.

Helping campaigners campaign

Getting more people cycling will lead to a more sustainable and efficient transport system, improved public health, and greater access to employment. However, in the UK, cities have failed to make space for cycling on our streets, preventing mass uptake.

We know, from our own activity as campaigners in Cambridge, that making a good evidence­-base for reallocating roadspace or challenging poor developments involves significant work. For instance, developers often claim that their route has “good connections to the local cycle network” whereas in practice we know that this often means a shared-use path that is hard to access.

We lack the data to – for example – make a strong case that a combination of a high collision rate, congestion, pollution in an area means that a developer or a Local Authority needs to improve their plans. Solid data for specific cases also helps to back-up arguments based on broader policy, such as that cycling should be prioritised as a positive and healthy form of transport.

We’re aiming over time to build up a multi­functional resource to help build a case for improved cycling infrastructure, enabling users to a build and link to an interactive display of the relevant data (involving multiple layers, clickable points, reports, summary info) for a particular location or route, that they can use in their advocacy and liaison work.

Mark, better known as ‘Ranty Highwayman’ in cycle planning circles, said:

“The project looks really exciting. From my point of view, the ability to generate information from one place is a great idea as at the moment, it’s a really labour-intensive process, this could create maps for reports, committee papers etc.”

Our plan is that it would be available for embedding in local campaign websites, exporting to reports, used in apps, and so on.

What changes can people expect?

We’ve started from our collision data viewer as the base, and to this we’re adding:

  • Completely reworking the search facility so that it’s actually useful – currently it’s stuck in a prototyped state, with lots of non-useful fields. This will mean that common scenarios like “Collisions between a date range in area X” are possible.
  • Adding typical scenarios as new front-end ways to access it. Currently, it’s very map-based, whereas we want to enable common use-cases much more easily.
  • Making everything Local Authority -aware. Currently it’s all manual boundaries, but we’d like users to be able to do things like compare casualty rates (and other data – see below) between areas.
  • Upgrading the interface. We’ve now got some nice new icons for a start 🙂
  • Adding a better way to import the data. Currently, updating it each year is not as easy as we’d like, and new data types (see below) need to be supported.
  • Adding generalised origin-destination data for areas, using analysis from our own journey planner
  • Adding traffic count data, from the DfT
  • More data (in future – after the current Fellowship work)
  • Adding the ability to switch between multiple layers of data
  • Making all the above available through a more generalised Advocacy data API. In fact, this will be the system powering all the above!
  • Adding the ability to embed custom views of the data in other sites

The code will be open source too 🙂

We’ll be giving updates via this blog over the coming 6 weeks – stay tuned!

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