Tagged: cycling

Cycle Competence Austria @Velocity2017

Take all relevant research institutions, planners and consulters, interest groups, authorities and manufacturers that are engaged in bicycling – voila, what you get is “Cycle Competence Austria” internet, an association of researcher and practitioners, who joined forces for the sake of further pushing the current bicycling boom and making knowledge available.

Klick on the picture to open a short Storify summary of the session.

The world’s biggest bicycling summit – Velo-city internet – takes place in Arnhem-Nijmegen, in the Dutch province of Gelderland these days. Today the Cycle Competence Austria had the nice opportunity to present bicycling knowledge “Made in Austria” to a broad audience.

Being a nation with still a lot of potential for a larger bicycle mode share, but quite exhaustive experiences and a growing body of knowledge, Austria can serve as front runner for so called climbing nations. In this session, six members of the Cycle Competence network presented their respective contribution to a prospering bicycling environment.

Martin Eder, the national bicycle advocate internet, started the series of presentations with an overview of national activities for bicycle promotion. He paid special attention to the second edition of the national masterplan internet, in which the official goal of 13% in the modal split by 2025 is published. In order to reach this, several national initiatives, such as the research funding program “Mobility of the Future” internet are launched and supported.

After Martin, Andrea Weninger from Rosinak & Partner internet shared here extensive experience in bicycle masterplan creation processes. She came up with a list of six points, which she regards to be essential for successful planning processes. Two of these success factors are to go for user-tailored masterplans (instead of copy-pasting elements from elsewhere), which are inspired by locals.

Andreas Friedwagner (Verracon internet) went on with a GIS-based analyses of accessibility and travel time analysis in the federal state of Vorarlberg. His beautiful maps clearly indicate which areas are well-served in terms of bicycle infrastructure and where improvements need to be made in order to motivate people to switch from car to active mobility. Interestingly, Andreas found in his studies that speed limits for cars (30 km/h within residential areas) have the most direct impact on overall bicycling safety.

Currently we are in an interesting transition phase from data scarcity in bicycle promotion to a data deluge (one of Andrea’s argument was that not everything that could be measured really contributes to a better understanding). However, the colleagues from BikeCitizens internet with their CEO Daniel Kofler do a great job in packing routing and navigation, promotion with gamification components and bicycle intelligence into a single app: the BikeCitizens app internet.

The session was completed by two contributions from research institutions. First I gave an overview of three current research project and argued that the spatial perspective facilitates joint efforts across domain boundaries:

After my presentation, Markus Straub from AIT internet presented two projects, each with a spatial optimization component: the EMILIA project internet seeks, among others, to optimize parcel deliveries in cities. In order to so the last miles from central distribution hubs to the consumer should be done by cargo-bikes. Markus and his colleagues have developed a route optimization algorithm for the delivery bicyclists. In the BBSS project internet a spatially explicit planning tool for optimizing the location of bike sharing stations was developed. This tool allows planners to estimate the potential demand for any location in a city.

Got interested in what happens in Austria in terms of bicycling research and promotion? Leave a comment here, visit the Cycle Competence Austria association booth at Velo-city or you can use Twitter internet or e-mail internet anytime.

Floating Bicycle Data

Our colleagues from Salzburg Research (SR) internet are very active in the field of floating car data generation, management and analysis. Among others, this real-time traffic status service internet is fed by their data.
In order to establish a community of researchers, authorities and companies around the topic of floating car data, SR hosts the annual “FCD Forum” in Salzburg. This year, I had the honor to contribute to the program internet. Since we have been working a lot with bicycling data over the last years, I was asked to evaluate the potentials of a conceptual transfer from FCD to “Floating Bicycle Data”. Well, a very fundamental finding in my research is that the term “Floating Bicycle Data” is not established yet in the scientific literature. Thus, the term is to be regarded as a word game derived from the forum’s agenda. However, I think it makes perfectly sense to invest some efforts in this context.

In my presentation internet, I started my argumentation from the fact that a) bicycle traffic is a relevant element of urban mobility, b) the modal share is likely to increase in the next years and c) a sound evidence base is required for future investments in bicycling infrastructure.
Currently, very little is known about the spatial and temporal distribution of bicycle traffic within cities. Comparably few permanent counting stations, sporadic, punctual counting campaigns and irregular mobility surveys do not provide sufficient and reliable data to support evidence-based policies on the local scale level. On the other hand, the popularization of the “humans as sensors” concept (Goodchild 2007 internet) has opened new possibilities to acquire data on bicyclists’ movements in urban networks. When talking about floating bicycle data, I used it as a catchy term, which summarizes all kind of geo-located movement data from bicyclists; they don’t need to be necessarily in real-time.

As I’ve shown in my presentation, there a numerous application examples where floating bicycle data would make perfectly sense. However, there are several conceptual challenges, which need to be considered (most of them are also relevant for floating car data):

  1. When floating bicycle data are harvested through crowd-sourcing applications the data are not necessarily representative for the entire population. I referred to participation inequality or the 90-9-1 rule (see Nielsen 2006 internet) in this context. Additionally, different apps are used for different purposes. Thus, the data might be biased for example towards leisure trips (as it is the case with Strava internet data in Salzburg).
  2. Currently, there is no common data standard and the heterogeneity of bicycle mobility data is huge. Good news in this context were published earlier in this year by the European Commission (see this report internet from the COWI project).
  3. Since there is no obligation to register bicycles, the (spatial distribution of the) total population is unknown. Consequently, it is hard to estimate the total bicycle traffic volume from samples. In contrast to that, cars are registered and at least the car holders’ address is known.
  4. In order to further process movement data (GPS trajectories), a sound and very detailed reference graph is required for map matching. In most cases network graphs are not available at this level of detail (this holds true for authoritative data as well as for OSM). Consequently, GPS trajectories can only be matched to center lines at the moment.

Although this selection of challenges might be regarded as obstacle for a broader engagement (I prefer to interpret them as research opportunities), I expect the topic of floating bicycle data to emerge in the coming years for a simple reason: the market for floating bicycle data is definitely smaller than for floating car data. But, bicycle traffic is already a major element in urban traffic and its share will become even more substantial in the next years. As a consequence, cities need to invest in adequate infrastructure and these investments will hardly be made without a sound evidence base. Floating bicycle data could close a significant gap in this regard.


If you are already working with floating bicycle data (but haven’t used the term yet), have ideas on how to further push the topic or simply want to comment on the concept, please do not hesitate to contact me! I’m happy to learn from your expertise.
For those who are about to write a thesis in this or a related context, have a look at this proposal internet.

Lecture series “Active Mobility”

Since the VeloCity internet conference took place in Vienna in 2013, the Institute of Transportation internet (Vienna University of Technology) hosts an annual lecture series on bicycling and active mobility in general.

This semester, 80-100 students from various planning domains (urban, transport, regional planning) are attending the weekly lecture on “Active Mobility” internet. Yesterday I had the privilege to present parts of my current research and provide an overview of potential contributions of spatial information to an enhanced bicycling safety situation (slides in German language):

Although some of the students have already worked with GIS, none of them employe GIS in the context of mobility or transport research (at least nobody raised his/her hand when I was asking). Thus, I was happy to serve an appetizer for introducing the spatial perspective to a rather “technical” planning community.

GIS & bicycling – recent research activities

This post is an update of current research projects I’m involved in as member of the GI Mobility Lab internet. The nice thing is that all three projects allow us to work with domain experts from very different fields: public transit planners, medical doctors, transport engineers etc. And although the contexts of the featured projects are diverse, they all have two things in common: (1) the bicycle is in the focus and (2) we add a distinct spatial flavor to the overall research approaches.

Bike Sharing

The city of Salzburg is definitely not a front runner when it comes to bike sharing. However, the city is currently pushing the topic. In order to achieve a better evidence base for future decisions, our lab was invited for a study on the expected user potential of bike sharing in Salzburg.


For this study we developed a study design that on the one hand incorporates existing findings from literature and on the other hand explicity considers the spatial configuration of the city. Additionally we launched an open online survey with which we aimed to better understand the needs of potential users.


Different to most of the existing planning approaches we used spatial, socio-demographic data to estimate the number of potential users on the local scale. We extracted the most relevant socio-demographic determinants of bike sharing usage from literature and mapped them. These maps nicely represent the character of the city (e.g. the distribution of academics or the spatial patterns of work places). Based on structural analysis of the city we calculated different scenarios of bike sharing penetration levels for every single census block.
Currently we are working on the final report – results will be published on our website internet.


The project FamoS (Fahrradverkehrsmodelle als Planungsinstrument zur Reorganisation des Straßenraums) aims to establish a sound data base for transport models, develop bicycle flow models, and implement these models into planning tools for the evidence-based re-organisation of the road space. The project (FFG #855034), which is led by the Technical University of Graz internet, is funded by the Austrian Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology under the “Mobilität der Zukunft” program internet.


The background of the research project ist to strengthen active forms of mobility and to provide an evidence base for targeted interventions. For planning and (re)organization of public roads and places, suitable data and innovative planning tools must exist for these user-groups. Widespread analyzing, planning and simulation tools already exist for motorized forms of mobility, but to introduce evidence-based measures and politics for active forms of mobility, still considerable information- and planning barriers exist.
Our role in this project is to establish a consolidated data base for transport models and to develop an agend-based model for bicycle flows in Salzburg. It gives us the opportunity to further improve a first ABM-based bicycle flow model for Salzburg internet and for Gothenburg. Methodologically the project partly builds on one of my recent papers internet on GIS in transport modeling.


At a first glance there seems to be little overlap between sport medicine and GIS. Nevertheless we recently kicked-off a project, which is located at the intersection of medicine, mobility management and GIS. GISMO internet – Geographical Information Support for Healthy Mobility (FFG #854974) is also funded by the Austrian Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology under the “Mobilität der Zukunft” program internet. The project is coordinated by our department. We cooperate with five partners from Vienna, Zurich and Salzburg (a German language overview of the consortium can be found here internet).


GISMO internet aimes to support healthy mobility in the application context of corporate mobility management initiatives. As part of the project, the health effects of several interventions that promote sustainable, active mobility are investigated quantitatively. These data are then combined with spatial models and analysis routines in an integrated information platform which is subsequently evaluated.
The overall research goal is to estimate the health effect for each mode of transport for the individual, spatial relation between place of residence and working place. With this approach existing lines of argument that primarily focus on mobility and environmental effects as well as on efficiency, are complemented with components addressing employee’s health and health prevention. The drafted information platform serves as innovative solution for evidence-based planning, consulting and information.

For the projects FamoS and GISMO we are currently looking for an additional researcher. In cases I have raised your interest and you want to join us, have a look at the job advertisement internet.

I see many, many links to similar, existing projects and studies. The body of literature on bike sharing, transport modeling and healthy mobility is huge. Nevertheless, a lot of work still lies ahead. GIS and the spatial perspective on bicycle mobility are capable to leverage existing approaches to a next level and to generate additional insights.
Which links and overlaps do you see to your work? Feel free to comment on this post or use the contact form – I’m happy to learn from your experiences and ideas!

Lessons learned from the winter cycling survey

For a recently finished project we conducted an online survey on winter cycling internet in February 2015. The outcomes serve as evidence basis for future developments of information tools for winter cyclists.
Some of the results are published on our research group’s website and can be downloaded here internet (in German language). An in-depth analysis is currently prepared for submission at a conference.

Apart from the results as such (which were enormously helpful, to some extent surprising and indeed relevant for what we are doing), we have learned quite a lot about the winter cycling community and how to engage with them. Additionally some fundamental and methodological insights could have been gained.
Because I thought these lessons learned might be interesting to other research groups, I’ve shared them with my colleagues and professors at this semester’s PhD intensive week – and of course with you:

  1. Ask your prospective community.
  2. Social media are the optimal channel to reach communities.
  3. Communities are ready to share if the topic is interesting and relevant to them.
  4. It‘s much easier to reach the affected community than the general public.
  5. Invest only in online information provision.
  6. The role (effect) of information potentially overestimated.

Have a look at the slides; I’ve tried to illustrate these lessons. Some of them might be rather expectable, but still, I see very little indication in literature and practice that they are already widely anticipated.


Have you made similar experiences? What is your opinion on information tools for winter cycling? I’d be very happy to engage with you and to learn from your insights! You can use the contact form or the commentary function below. Or you just connect on Twitter internet.

Cycling Chicago

Yesterday I had the privilege to spend some time with Steve Vance internet – of course on the backs of bicycles, riding through some neighbourhoods in Chicago.
Steve is the mastermind behind the Chicago Bike Guide internet and a dedicated OSM mapper internet. It was a great experience to connect with a local who is deeply rooted in Chicago’s bicycle community, to learn from him and his work and to exchange current challenges and ideas for further bicycle promotion.

Chicago: a city shaped by the car.

Chicago: a city shaped by the car.

Typical for almost all US cities, Chicago’s transportation network is mainly built for cars. Standing on the tallest building – the Willis Tower – you see how the city is shaped by the car culture. Everything is drive in and thru …
But it would be unfair to brand Chicago a car city without mentioning some really cool bicycle features. First of all to mention is the extensive bike sharing scheme Divvy internet. Thanks to a dense network of docking stations the light blue bicycle are omnipresent in Chicago downtown. Steve told me that the trip per bicycle ratio of Divvy bike is lower than in New York City or Washington DC; but this might change soon due to a further expansion of the network.
Tightly connected to the bike sharing scheme is Steve’s app for iOS internet and Android internet, which is a route planner and Divvy bike station finder. It are such tools, that help bicyclists to navigate through the city. Interestingly hardly any bicycle routes or signs can be found in the streets. Thus the bicyclists rely on routing recommendation systems or local knowledge much more than for example in Salzburg.

Sign that remind car drivers of bicyclist's right to exist.

Sign that remind car drivers of bicyclist’s right to exist.

I had the privilege to enjoy the latter and learned among others, that Chicago’s boulevards are ideal for bicycling. This might surprise at the first glance, as these roads were the precursors of modern highways. But thanks to an enormously space consuming design the side roads leave plenty of space for bicyclists. These roads would be predestined shared spaces or bicycle roads! Let’s see how long it takes the authorities to switch from mere recommendations (Steve explained the meaning of these signs internet to me) to legally binding regulations.

Chicago's boulvards are great to ride: the side roads leave plenty of space for bicyclists, with almost no traffic.

Chicago’s boulevards are great to ride: the side roads leave plenty of space for bicyclists, with almost no traffic.

Apart from the side roads of the boulevards, there are two other types of roads which are more or less suitable for bicycling: arterial roads with painted bicycle lanes (some of them buffered, what is great!) and minor roads with little traffic. Comparing these types of roads led to an interesting discussion about the representation of such roads in OpenStreetMap and their consideration in routing recommendation systems which are built on this data basis. On the one hand bicycle routing applications should generally favor roads with a distinct infrastructure, but on the other hand they might be not the safest (or most optimal) connection, for example due to the danger of parked cars (dooring internet). Steve’s suggestion for highlighting minor roads which are suitable for bicyclists in OSM is to use the tag bicycle = yes, although this information is inherent in e.g. highway = tertiary. Another alternative, which we were actually following for Salzburg’s Radlkarte internet, is to consider various and factors for the wayfinding. For this, we have developed the indicator-based assessment tool internet, which allows a certain independency from single attributes in the routing optimization.

Coming from Salzburg – which can be hardly compared to Chicago in any terms – I found the following concluding comparison remarkable:
Chicago has a very poor physical bicycle infrastructure: the road surface is of low quality, there are hardly any separated cycleways and only few bicycle routes exist. But Chicago has an extensive bike sharing scheme and innovative information tools. Additionally key data about cycling and transportation in general are available. Be this the accident data set internet or the departure times internet of the CTA trains.
Salzburg is the exact opposite: having an excellent network of cycleways, the city is still waiting for a reasonable bike sharing system. And there are only very few information offers for bicyclists, mainly because of the pertinacious data conservatism (it’s politically a hot topic, but fortunately things are changing currently in the wake of OGD internet initiatives) – for the Radlkarte internet we had to go several extra miles!
Nevertheless, I still have some hope, that one day cities start searching for and adopting best-practice examples from all over the world. Since yesterday I can say, that several interesting aspects and above all, some very smart bicycle enthusiasts can be found in Chicago!

Winter cycling

Currently we internet are working on a small project about wintercycling. The aim is to provide a basis for user-tailored information for winter cyclists. In the context of this project I’ve started to take pictures on Salzburg’s cycleways, as they help us to distinguish between various categories of road conditions and specific situations. Apart from this rather “technical” interest, I’ve been reminded once again what a pleasure it is to cycle to work – especially on a sunny but freezing cold winter day. In this story map I’ve collected some impressions:

Click on the image to open the story map in a new window/tab.

Click on the image to open the story map in a new window/tab.

If you have any thoughts on winter cycling, literature you’d like to recommend, experiences you’ve made or simply a collection of winter cycling photos you would share – please, do not hesitate to contact me or leave a comment here.