Today, I had the honour to chair another special session that dealt with GIS and mobility research at this year’s GI-Forum conference . The session “Spatial Perspectives on Active Mobility” was the third in a series (see here for a review of the 2016 and here for the 2015 session).
Of course, we will have a “Spatial Perspectives on …” session in 2018 again – the call will be published in December this year. So, consider this as an option for your publishing and dissemination strategy (by the way, the GI-Forum journal is open access!)
This year’s special session was a paper session with four speakers, who all went through a rigorous review process. The diversity of the contributions was high, demonstrating the wide range of mobility research where GIS plays a crucial role:
- Irene Fellner from Vienna University of Economics and Business opened the session at the very local scale. She presented her work on landmark-based indoor navigation. Although the applied ILNM (“indoor landmark navigation model”), an extended version of Duckham’s et al. (2010 ) LNM, performed well, Irene pointed to two major challenges: first of all, the ILNM requires very detailed data, which are not always available and secondly, the visibility of landmarks from the perspective of the user is not always given or unknown.
Irene’s paper emerged from her master thesis at the University of Salzburg, where she successfully finished the UNIGIS MSc study program. Dr. Gudrun Wallentin, UNIGIS program director, regarded this special session as perfect stage to hand over the UNIGIS International Association (UIA ) award for excellent master theses. Congratulations!
- Ulrich Leth (Vienna University of Technology) presented the findings of a recent study where they investigated the impact of a bike sharing system on public transit ridership in the city of Vienna, which is famous for its extensive and well-performing public transit system. In total, Ulrich and colleagues analysed 1 million Citybike trips from 2015. Different to the expectation the title provoked, they found that the bike sharing system virtually has no impact on PT ridership, simply because of the huge difference in size and capacity. However, some details in their results were interesting and probably of relevance for other BSS: a) Citybike trips primarily substitute short and inconvenient PT trips, b) most bike sharing trips are made when the travel time ratio compared to public transit is 0,5 and c) the most popular OD relations are typical student trips (between transport hubs and university and student dormitories and transport hubs or universities).
- Tabea Fian, a student from Georg Hauger’s (lead author of the paper) group, also from Vienna University of Technology, presented a spatial analysis of urban bicycle crashes in Vienna. Interestingly, the data were very similar to those I’ve extensively used in my PhD (see this paper ). In a purely exploratory study design Georg has tried to identify blackspots in the network and tested for their significance. However, as it became evident in the discussion, final conclusions are hard to draw without a statistical population.
- The last presentation was given by Anna Butzhammer from RSA iSpace. She presented parts of her excellent master thesis, in which she analysed the inter-modal accessibility of central places. For this, she developed a model that facilitates door-to-door travel time calculations with different modes. Her findings are especially important for planning and optimizing public transit systems, which can be regarded as backbone for sustainable mobility.
Tomorrow, the German-speaking sister conference, AGIT , will host a special forum on autonomous driving and on Friday I will chair another session on advances in GIS-T. Well, there will be a lot to discover, learn and discuss; if you don’t have the chance to be there physically, follow me on Twitter and stay updated.
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” , an association of researcher and practitioners, who joined forces for the sake of further pushing the current bicycling boom and making knowledge available.
The world’s biggest bicycling summit – Velo-city – 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 , 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 , 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” are launched and supported.
After Martin, Andrea Weninger from Rosinak & Partner 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 ) 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 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 .
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 presented two projects, each with a spatial optimization component: the EMILIA project 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 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 or e-mail anytime.
After several months of setting the stage and doing lots of preparatory work, we are currently entering the ‘core phase’ in two research projects at the GI Mobility Lab . In this context we provide the opportunity to Master’s students to participate in the projects and write their thesis in GIScience (or related fields).
Our part in the FamoS project is, among others, to develop an agent-based bicycle flow model for an entire city. In this context we offer two topics:
- Behavior to space (description )
- Exploring geoprocessing, geovisual analytical and mapping functionalities of GAMA (description )
Experts from sports medicine, GIScience and transport planning and management are collaborating in the GISMO research project in order to provide a sound evidence basis for the promotion of active commuting. Part of the research is a clinical study, in which we document the subject’s mobility by different means. For the analysis of this data we offer the following two topics:
- Analysis of movement data from fitness watches (description )
- Linking travel diaries and GPS trajectories (description )
Since the VeloCity conference took place in Vienna in 2013, the Institute of Transportation (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” . 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.
Originally, this blog was intended to document the progress of my PhD research. Mhm, this goal has been successfully reached yesterday …
I finished my doctoral studies with a thesis on Spatial Information and Bicycling Safety and yesterday’s defense. The thesis is based on five peer-reviewed, published papers and aims to strengthen the spatial perspective in bicycling safety research.
The thesis is motivated by the fact that bicycling safety research is dominated by non-spatial domain experts, e.g. with backgrounds in trauma medicine, psychology, bio-mechanics, sociology, epidemiology, engineering, planning, law and some more. Interestingly, the spatial perspective on bicycling safety is hardly ever considered in these domain-specific approaches. This holds especially true for bicycle crash analyses, where basic geographical concepts, such as nearness, spatial autocorrelation and topology, are hardly ever considered.
Neglecting location as a co-determining attribute of safety is remarkable for a very simple reason. Mobility of people – and thus bicycling – as such is spatial by its very nature. Consequently, bicycling safety (from the physical environment to crashes to individually experienced safety threats) has spatial facets, which can be modeled and analyzed accordingly in order to gain relevant information for safer bicycling.
The primary hypothesis of my doctoral thesis is that spatial models and analyses contribute to a better understanding of certain aspects of bicycling safety and provide relevant results, which support measures to mitigate safety risks for bicyclists. Specifically I argued that:
- Geographical Information Systems (GIS) facilitate holistic approaches for improving the bicycling safety situation. The spatial perspective is relevant for virtually all stages of the implementation of bicycling safety strategies.
- Model-based approaches have a great potential in safety assessment and can form the basis for a number of applications – from status-quo analysis to planning and route optimization.
- The spatial analysis of bicycle crashes reveals significant and safety-relevant patterns and particularities, which remain hidden in common, non-spatial or highly aggregated approaches.
- The spatial perspective is crucial for advanced (simulation) models, which are necessary for reliable risk estimations on the local scale. Furthermore, the spatial implications of risk mapping on the local scale must be made explicit.
The thesis is structured in three elements. The first paper demonstrates the contribution of GIScience to bicycling safety research and is intended to set the stage for the remaining papers. Two of them primarily deal with spatial models in the context of road space assessment and transport modeling, while the rest is about spatial analysis of bicycle crashes.
Although the completion of my doctoral studies is a huge, personal milestone, there is still a lot of research work in this context to be done. Besides the further development of the spatial models, the applied statistical methods and analysis routines, I see research gaps in the context of data (from static to dynamic real-time data and data streams), information (e.g. what are the effects of information provision on decision process or on individual and collective behavior?) and cross-domain collaboration.
The amount of work that still lies ahead motivates me to further blog on some of our research activities and to connect with anyone who is interested in spatial information, bicycling safety, urban mobility etc. I’m looking forward to learning, reading and hearing from you in virtual and – even more preferably – in face-to-face communication!
150 participants from 23 countries gathered on November 30th in Rotterdam to attend the VeloCittà bikesharing conference, which was held in conjunction with the annual POLIS conference (450 participants, according to the organizers). While the VeloCittà conference was exclusively dedicated to bikesharing, the POLIS conference offered a broader perspective on sustainable transport. I was in Rotterdam primarily for the POLIS conference because I had a presentation, but it was also a great opportunity to get an impressive update of recent bikesharing practice and research. Lot’s of what I’ve learned can be directly linked to our current involvement in the planning of a bikesharing system in Salzburg, Austria.
All presentations of both conferences can be found on the respective websites. Thus, I will focus only on two topics I’ve found especially relevant for our research and project work.
Success factors for bikesharing systems
In a very interesting session at the POLIS conference on sharing systems, Sebastian Schlebusch from Nextbike gave some insights into the company’s history. Several years they were treated quite harshly by public transit operators who feared for their business. However the break through of bikesharing systems (BSS) came. In accordance with Sebastian’s talk the following success factors occurred in various presentations at both conferences:
- Political support. Obviously this seems to be the most decisive factor for successful BSSs in any country.
- Integrated systems. An increasing number of cities regard bikesharing systems as an element of public transit services. This is reflected in the planning of the network, pricing and promotion. Cologne’s BSS is a good example for a large, integrated system.
- Robust business models. This factor becomes important when initial subsidies fade out. Alberto Castro , one of the keynote speakers at VeloCittà, demonstrated how fast BSSs without sound financial (and operational) basis disappear .
- Appropriate planning. Nicole Freedman, keynote speaker at VeloCittà, made a compelling case for the importance of realistic projections and tailored BSS design. Cities are comparable only to a certain degree and thus, BSSs cannot be simply transferred. Specific (mobility) characteristics of cities, from PT service level to topography, need to be taken into account.
- User-tailored, easy solutions. The needs and expectations of users must be addressed in every aspect: from intuitive interfaces for initial registration to the ease of handling the hardware.
To know and consider people’s reasons for not using BSSs is especially valueable when systems should be improved. In many cases the barriers for BSS usage can be lowered or removed with small adaptions.
- Visibility in public space. In order to raise awareness for bikesharing it is necessary that the system is visible in public space. This visibility can be achieved by an appropriate station design, but also with art in public space.
- Make it beautiful. Directly associated to the latter point Nicole Freedman strongly argued for aesthetically pleasing, beautiful bikes and infrastructure. Way too often BSSs are shaped by technicians and technology. With a good design of hard- and software people can be made curious; once they are attracted to the system, the possibility is high for turning prospective into active users.
At both conferences lots of case studies were presented. At least two of them were really remarkable:
Krakow (~ 760,000 inhabitants) initially launched a system with 30 stations and 300 bikes, which turned out to be not that successful. Thus, the city relaunched the entire system under a new name (Wavelo ) and with 1,500 bikes at 150 stations, which is above the average bikes per people ratio in Europe (ref. OBIS handbook)!
A much smaller, but very successful BSS can be found in Pisa (CICLOPI ). Marco Bertini presented the city’s strategy to make people in Pisa love their bikesharing system: “Bikesharing is note a service for citizens, but part of the community.” With this approach Pisa achieved impressive key figures: 5-8 rides per bike and day, virtually no vandalism and not a single bike stolen in 4 years.
More people are killed in road crashes than by malaria or tuberculosis, according to a recent OECD report that calls for a paradigm shift in road safety. Before this background and with a special focus on the role of large cities the International Transport Forum (ITF ) launched the Safer City Streets project, which was presented by Alexandre Santacreu. The aim of this project is to provide an environment for exchange of data, experience and knowledge. What I regard as an asset of this project is the drive to publish data as OGD.
Alex pointed to the difficulty of comparing data from various sources, especially when crashes of vulnerable road users are investigated (different reporting procedures, classification, under-reporting etc.). Of course, this is nothing new, but my impression is that the limited comparability of data is mostly neglected in analyses of global data (I’ve demonstrated an aspect of this in this post ).
While the Safer City Streets project operates on the global scale, the Netherlands have launched a national project where cities can learn from each other with respect to crash prevention and safety measures. Charlotte Bax from SWOV presented this benchmarking project that is built upon the three elements comparing – learning – improving. Two aspects caught my attention: (1) None of the data are made public because the involved city administrations fear the pressure that might be put on them after publishing crash details. (2) Even in the Netherlands’ city administrations struggle to make use of their data; Charlotte referred to cases where responsible departments were not able to tell how many kilometers of bicycle infrastructure they had.
Benchmarking on the very local level was at the core of Eric de Kievit’s presentation on the development of a compound road safety assessment. For this, two approaches were combined. Firstly, a network safety index, which consists of an enormously detailed description of the road space (every 25 meters the road profile was investigated based on street view photos). And secondly, a safety performance indicator that focuses on road user’s behavior. Both perspectives are then used as basis for targeted infrastructure measures, law enforcement, education and communication campaigns.
My own contribution to the session on road safety was about spatial analysis of bicycle crashes on the local scale level. The presentation was a synthesis of two of my latest journal papers (JTRG and Safety ):
In both conferences it became evident that there are lots of innovative and creative solutions for promoting sustainable mobility in urban environments. However, there is no philosopher’s stone that solves all problems immediately, but cities all over Europe have to work hard to make progress.
I have the strong impression that the discussion and collaboration across domains and institutions is a key for sustainable solutions for cities. Urban environments are complex and thus require multifaceted strategies. In any way, we are ready to contribute spatial expertise for the good of our cities and their citizens.
In 2015 we organized the first special session on GIS and transport at the GI Forum conference in Salzburg (Austria). Since the event was a full success in 2016 as well, we will prolong the series in 2017 and call for contributions.
Since the promotion of active mobility has become a central element of virtually any urban planning and development strategy, health issues force societies to get physically active again and the amount of research has skyrocketed, it is time to gain a “spatial perspective” on the topic.
Research on active mobility is of course a multi-disciplinary field and lots of, partly very specific studies contribute to the growing body of literature. However, it is interesting that a substantial share of recently published studies from non-spatial domains have geographical elements at their core. The latest series on urban design, transport and health in the medical top journal The Lancet is only one of several prominent examples.
Before the background of our own research (see one of my last posts ) and the relevance of the topic, we organize another special session – hopefully with your contribution!
During the 2017 GI Forum conference we will collect, present and discuss spatial perspectives on active mobility. The call for papers is also available on the conference website :
There are many good reasons to promote active mobility: road congestions, limited space resources, public health issues, air pollution and noise emission, just to name a few. Consequently, various institutions and research domains have active mobility at the core of their activities. The geographical space can serve as common denominator that brings together the multiple approaches towards active mobility. Geographical Information Systems (GIS) hereby serve as integrative platforms that combine, model and analyze the variety of perspectives and data. The overall aim is to facilitate holistic approaches and to extract relevant information for stakeholders and decision makers.
The 2017 GI-Forum special session will be the third of a series that deals with relevant research topics at the intersection of GIS and mobility. We invite researchers from any domain to submit original research, which has spatial information at its core. Relevant topics are (but not limited to):
- Spatial data acquisition for active mobility research (OGD, VGI etc.)
- Spatial models and simulations for pedestrian and bicycle traffic
- Spatial analysis of barriers for active mobility (safety, accessibility, attitudes and behavior)
- GIS in planning and decision support systems for active mobility promotion
- Showcases from all disciplines (sports science, environmental psychology, transport science, planning etc.) that build on spatial information
Contributions can either be submitted as full paper, extended abstract or poster. Any contribution needs to be submitted via the conference submission website and will be object to the double-blind, peer-review process. Authors of accepted full papers are going to be invited to present and discuss their paper (15’+5’) in the special session. Authors of extended abstracts and posters are going to be invited for an elevator pitch (5’). Full papers and extended abstracts will be published in the GI-Forum journal (Open Access).
Besides the special session, which will be organized as paper session, we will provide opportunities for further exchange, project drafting or discussing potential joint publications in an informal workshop format.
Further information can be found on the session’s website: http://gi-forum.org/activemobility. The special session is organized by the GI Mobility Lab (Z_GIS). Any inquiries can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.