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December 13, 2019 05:30 pm

City Planners Zero in on Cyclists Through Exercise App

With 47m global users Strava has the potential to generate big data for public development [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled]. From a report: When the UK capital built a "cycle superhighway" in 2016, Strava indicated where people had changed their route and showed that the number of cyclists increased by 60 per cent when a bike-only lane was built along the Victoria Embankment on the Thames. Planners can observe changes, such as many cyclists avoiding a direct route, to see where roads may be dangerous. Granular data from Strava also show where cyclists have to stop and wait, information Ms Hall used to review traffic light patterns so more cyclists could get a clear run on their commute. While recognising its potential, however, researchers warned that Strava and other crowdsourced data sets should be treated with caution. Giulio Ferrini, from cycling charity Sustrans, said the average Strava user was probably "not representative" of the average cyclist. Strava says it has 5.5m users in the UK. But researchers fear they are a self-selecting group, filtered by an affinity for exercise apps that may make them more competitive than others. According to Ms Hall at TfL, they "tend to be more gung-ho." Relying on crowdsourced data, Mr Ferrini said, could lead to cities being designed for "white men in Lycra" who usually travel speedily from A to B and neglecting groups such as parents who cycle with their children to school. Tom Knights, who oversees partnerships at Strava Metro, acknowledged the tool was not "trying to do everything." But he pointed to several academic studies that found similar travel patterns on Strava data and other sources.

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