People’s mobility, and thus bicycling, is spatial by its very nature. Being mobile by bicycle means to ride from one location to another in a given environment. Fundamental geographical characteristics, such as neighborhood, accessibility or distance, determine mobility to a certain decree. However, these interdependencies are often neglected in bicycling research, planning and politics. The consequences of non-spatial approaches become evident in many cities: the environment (neighborhood) of bicycle ways is not considered and thus often unattractive or not suitable, central facilities are poorly linked to bicycle infrastructure (accessibility) or not straightly connected (distance). The graphs below show the increasing distance travelled by commuters in Austria. The proximity between place of residence and workplace directly affects the mode choice.
In order to explicitly consider the spatial nature of bicycling mobility and to relate multiple perspectives on the environment, Geographical Information Systems (GIS) are increasingly employed in bicycling research and promotion. GI systems are capable to model and digitally represent all relevant physical objects (road infrastructure, facilities, land use etc.) and moving subjects, including quantitative and qualitative attributes. Using the geographical coordinate as common denominator, all entities, together with domain-specific attribution can be related to each other. This way, additional insights and new information about the multifaceted system of bicycling mobility can be gained.
Such integrated approaches are especially beneficial in the context of bicycling, where not only rational, but also subjective (for example with regard to safety) factors, together with interests of various stakeholders need to be considered. Facing and adequately addressing this complexity is also relevant in bicycle-related research. Explicitly geo-spatial approaches leverage existing domain knowledge and contribute to better results. Representing, modeling, analyzing and visualizing different perspectives on bicycling in a spatial framework leads to new knowledge and a strong evidence-base for informed discussions, participation processes and policies.
At this year’s POLIS conference I’ll present three case studies, which proof the integrative power of geography and the contribution of GIScience to bicycling research:
To strengthen active forms of mobility, it is necessary to adapt the road network in a way which allows optimal usage in spatial as well as temporal respect. The research project FamoS , started in September 2016, investigates the potential of traditional demand based traffic models (“4-step-model”) and of agent based simulation models to estimate the volume of bicycle traffic for entire cities at a maximum detailed scale level. These models are then fed into a novel planning tool, which facilitates evidence-based decisions in the process of planning and (re) organizing public space for active mobility.
The research project GISMO , started in October 2016, integrates domain-specific know-how from various disciplines, namely GIScience, sports medicine and mobility management. As part of the project, the health effects of several interventions that promote sustainable, active mobility are investigated in a clinical study. These data are then combined with spatial models and analysis routines in a comprehensive map-based information platform, where the spatial characteristics of commuting trips and expected health effects are considered in mobility recommendations on an individual level. For a brief project update see my last post here .
3. Planning a Bike Sharing System
In order to transfer existing knowledge on Bike Sharing Systems (BSS) and parameters to a specific urban setting and to provide an evidence base for decision makers, we applied a generic spatial framework to the city of Salzburg (Austria), which merges spatial analysis results, expert knowledge and feedback from citizen participation processes. With this approach the potential demand could have been estimated for any location in town. Moreover, the contribution of each station location to the entire system was spatially modeled and optimized.
The spatial framework will be published and presented at next year’s TRA conference in Vienna.
In all thress presented cases solutions emerged that would have not be possible in the respective domain silos. However, the geographical space (concepts from geography and GIScience) is an efficient facilitator for cross-domain collaboration and knowledge generation. Domains (such as health science and medicine) and applications (such as transport modeling) which are often disconnected from bicycling research and promotion are integrated on the basis of common geographical coordinates. Consequently, the complexity of bicycling mobility can be better addressed when various perspectives on bicycling and respective interdependencies are explicitly considered.
P.S.: The presentation is available on Slideshare
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 )
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!
Last year’s GI-Forum special session on “Spatial Perspective on Transportation Modelling” (read a brief review here ) was a kind of trial balloon, as we weren’t able to foresee the demand for transdisciplinary exchange at the interface of GIScience and transport research in the context of GI-Forum.
Traditionally, GIScientist gather at GIS conferences and transport researchers at transport conferences. Actually there is not as much overlap between the two domains as there could be – think of groundbreaking contributions from geographers (Hägerstrand ) to transport research and vice versa. Maybe this is the reason for why I enjoyed the session and all the successive conversations so much. Actually, several participants from this special session worked hard to condense the contributions and discussions into a review/position paper which will be (hopefully!) published soon – the manuscript is currently under review; this is why I’ll provide more information on a later occasion.
In succession of last year’s premiere we are going to organize a GI-Forum special session dedicated to GIS and transport again. Both keynote speakers (Harvey Miller and Anita Graser), from GI-Forum and AGIT (German language twin conference) will contribute to the special session “Spatial Perspectives on Transport Systems” on Wednesday afternoon (July 6th, 5pm )! Here is what is planned for the session:
1. Harvey Miller (Ohio State University): Geographic Information Systems for Transportation in the 21st Century
The session will be opened with a session keynote by Harvey Miller , who currently holds the Reusche Chair in Geographic Information Science at Ohio State University. Harvey will provide a comprehensive overview of GIScience in transport research, similar to his latest paper on the topic (Miller & Shaw 2015 ).
2. Johannes Schwer (University of Augsburg): Spatial Decision Support: Small-Scale Site Selection Model for Carsharing Services
Johannes , who is currently writing his dissertation at the University of Augsburg, will present a spatial decision support system for the selection of car sharing pods. In his analysis he combined demand and supply parameters, such as public transit connections, central facilities, population distribution, socio-demographic and behaviour criteria.
3. Mario Dolancic (University of Salzburg): Automatic lane level road network graph generation from Floating Car Data
Mario is on his last mile of his Master’s studies (Applied Geoinformatics , University of Salzburg) and works for an innovative traffic consulting company in Salzburg. He will present an approach that derives lane center lines from GNSS trajectories using KDE and distance relations. With this method, very detailed road graphs can be generated, which are a prerequist for ITS-applications and autonomous driving.
4. Anita Graser (AIT Austrian Institute of Technology): Integrating Open Spaces Into OpenStreetMap Routing Graphs for Realistic Crossing Behavior in Pedestrian Navigation
Anita will start and finish this conference day. After her AGIT keynote in the morning (“Offen und dynamisch – OpenSource, OpenData & OpenScience”), she will give a presentation on two more Open* aspects. Anita is going to provide a brief review of common algorithms for dealing with open spaces in routing and navigation applications, before she introduces a visibility graph approach, which is capable to model realistic routing behaviour based on OpenStreetMap data.
Of course, there will plenty of time for discussion during the session and for further exchange and networking afterwards. As this special session is the last one on this conference day, we will have the chance to smoothly fade into the AGIT Expo Night with snacks and beverages.
If you are not registered for the conference yet, early bird rates are available until May 25th. By the way, this special session is only one highlight for those who are interested in GIS and transport/mobility research (for instance a whole-day track on autonomous vehicles is scheduled for Thursday).
If you won’t make it to the conference, have a look at the conference’s social media channels to stay updated or follow me on Twitter . Research papers of the conference will be published in GI-Forum Journal for GIScience (open access) – you will find Johannes’, Mario’s and Anita’s contribution there.