Should road provision for cyclists be based on Strava use?

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  • Should road provision for cyclists be based on Strava use?
  • Premier Icon cookeaa
    Subscriber

    For me Strava users are exactly the wrong people to use as a sample.

    Bit Harsh maybe, they are part of the overall “cycling mix” that local authorities will want to have data on, I know of a couple of users who log their daily commutes (including one in that there London).

    The Data has some value to anyone looking at cycling infrastucture, but obviously it will not be definitive, at best it is indicative.

    I’m sure there are other possible sources of information for them to draw on and compare with Strava…

    Premier Icon MisterT
    Subscriber

    Strava is the devils own… Turning the wonderful act of riding alone or with mates into mindless willy waving.

    If any policy or data is used from that source, then it’s study and use is to highlight the preferences and activities of mindless willy wavers in society.

    (God I’m getting old and grumpy)

    Premier Icon andytherocketeer
    Subscriber

    from that other recent heatmap thread…

    how reliable is that data? shed loads of people must be logging other activities (walking/hiking for sure) as cycling.

    maybe (hopefully) they’ll get finer grained data than just a heatmap

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    For me Strava users are exactly the wrong people to use as a sample.

    Go on then, let us know how your detailed analysis of strava users leads you to that conclusion πŸ˜‰

    Premier Icon cookeaa
    Subscriber

    from that other recent heatmap thread…

    how reliable is that data? shed loads of people must be logging other activities (walking/hiking for sure) as cycling.

    maybe (hopefully) they’ll get finer grained data than just a heatmap

    Heat maps might look pretty but they probably don’t give enough detail alone, you’ll at least want to break the data down by time of day, time of year and to be able to compare it with other sources of road traffic data, of course it all relies on accurate input of information by the user, not just the log, I for one never check the “Commute” box when uploading my commutes, how reliant is “Strava Metros” data on users doing this? if the only report “Commute” logs as commuting data then all of mine will be ommited form the data set, across a few thousand users that could well knacker the accuracy a fair bit… crap in, crap out as they say…

    And not to be all 1984 about it but surely organisations will want more than bulk traffic data, they could want some broad demographic information on cyclists, Just how much Detail can “Stava Metro” sell to an organisation before they bump up against the Data protection act? “Anonymizing” is more than just deleting my name and address from the data…

    But Overall though I’m still in favour of the idea…

    Premier Icon BigDummy
    Subscriber

    Presumably it wants taking with a pinch of salt, and is pretty Fredly, but it’s a sane enough way of picking up some patterns of behaviour reasonably cost-effectively.

    πŸ™‚

    Premier Icon wwaswas
    Subscriber

    Strava has started selling ‘heatmap’ type data to cities which will then, presumably, base their planning on the various popular routes.

    http://road.cc/content/news/118098-strava-moves-big-data-london-glasgow-already-signed-find-out-where-cyclists-ride

    For me Strava users are exactly the wrong people to use as a sample.

    They tend to be doing longer journeys, they may pick routes which are faster rather than safer and most importantly they’re keen cyclists who are unlikely to be ‘Joe Bloggs’ riding 2 miles to work and back each day.

    I can see why Strava are trying to monetise their data but I do hope the people buying it realise the limitations of what they’re getting – if not my local woods are likely to be receiving a lot of funding to build bike lanes.

    JonEdwards
    Member

    Taken on it’s own, it would throw up some strange results, but making the point to planning committees that there are a good proportion of cyclists who do speeds regularly over 20mph, might help avoid more waste of time pavement based “shared usage” cycle routes.

    I feel far safer dealing with buses, trucks and other assorted winkers in tin boxes than I do dealing with mums’n’prams, dogs on extending leads, kids on microscooters and joggers with ipods, all wandering around willynilly with no thought for what else is going on around them.

    Premier Icon oldnpastit
    Subscriber

    I want good cycle provision for my children cycling 5 miles to school across several busy junctions.

    I don’t really care about spending my local taxes on cycling provision for lycra-clad duffers who are past their reproductive age.

    Premier Icon wwaswas
    Subscriber

    I feel far safer dealing with buses, trucks and other assorted winkers in tin boxes than I do dealing with mums’n’prams, dogs on extending leads, kids on microscooters and joggers with ipods, all wandering around willynilly with no thought for what else is going on around them.

    I think that was one of my thoughts really;

    ‘Strava users’ will tend to avoid shared use paths, quiet side roads with lots of junctions, a diversion through back streets to avoid a busy junction because they’re usually more confident and experienced riders.

    The routes they choose may not be typical.

    And that’s without discussion the whole segment psychology where people may choose to ride a certain road for competition rather than because it represents a good place for a cyclist to be.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    lol at the strava demographics


    Premier Icon wwaswas
    Subscriber

    lol at the strava demographics

    about the assumptions being made about who uses it?

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    about the assumptions being made about who uses it?

    Yep it reads like a “Bloody Cyclists” article from the daily wail or something. I’m sure everyone did a load of research about who is using it and what they are logging etc. before pretending to know what the user base is and what people log. I’m not claiming it’s all wrong but it’s not all true either.

    They tend to be doing longer journeys, they may pick routes which are faster rather than safer and most importantly they’re keen cyclists who are unlikely to be ‘Joe Bloggs’ riding 2 miles to work and back each day.

    If any policy or data is used from that source, then it’s study and use is to highlight the preferences and activities of mindless willy wavers in society.

    I don’t really care about spending my local taxes on cycling provision for lycra-clad duffers who are past their reproductive age.

    ‘Strava users’ will tend to avoid shared use paths, quiet side roads with lots of junctions, a diversion through back streets to avoid a busy junction because they’re usually more confident and experienced riders.

    hora
    Member

    I hate taking a watch and even a phone on a ride with me. People ride for different reasons but I don’t ‘get’ why anyone would go out into nature/out there and want to digitally record/track everything that they do.

    Premier Icon wwaswas
    Subscriber

    It’s possible mike but I think everyone’s ‘gut reaction’ is that there’s not many kids Stravaing their ride to school or people on Boris bikes chasing segments.

    It may just be the misapplication of ‘common sense’ but Strava is not going to provide a good indication of where cycle provision should be made to encourage non-cyclists to take it up or make local journeys (less than 15 minutes riding) more appealing to people – even most strava users probably don;t record a trip to the shops.

    They tend to be doing longer journeys, they may pick routes which are faster rather than safer and most importantly they’re keen cyclists who are unlikely to be ‘Joe Bloggs’ riding 2 miles to work and back each day.

    Why does that make them the ‘wrong’ type?

    Joe Blogs wants to get to work just as quickly as FatLadInLycra, it’ll highlight to LA’s that cyclits won’t tolerate stupid diversions out of their way etc. And my major bug is that cyling infrastructure is dissjointed. Why can’t it cover ‘routes’ rather than just 100m sections?

    I doubt LA’s are going to look at the maps and conclude Box Hill or the local TT 10 mile needs a cycle lane. They’re incompetent, not stupid.

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    This reminds me of the apocryphal tale about the RAF trying to figure out how to improve their planes in WWII. They started analyzing planes returning from dogfights, and noting where the bullet holes were so they knew where to place additional armour.

    Of course it made no difference at all, because they were analysing the wrong thing. They were looking at the planes that made it back despite being shot full of holes. What they really needed to look at were the planes that got shot down!

    Likewise: a major flaw with using Strava data is that you are analysing people who already cycle despite the bad infrastructure, when really you need to analyse why people don’t cycle and what infrastrucure would change their mind.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    it’s very true but as proved the word strava means one thing here despite it accounting for huge amount of mileage on bikes on roads where I live. A proper consultation/study would take this and any other available data. In terms of value for money data collection strava is probably very good.
    the hardest data to collect is the “I would but….” data

    even most strava users probably don;t record a trip to the shops.

    the oxymoron that this thread is that the strava user would log it and race it running over several childrens faces on the way πŸ™‚

    Premier Icon wwaswas
    Subscriber

    Of course it made no difference at all, because they were analysing the wrong thing. They were looking at the planes that made it back despite being shot full of holes. What they really needed to look at were the planes that got shot down!

    In the end someone suggested they look at the planes that came back with loads of bullet holes in them and add armour where there weren’t any holes – for the very reason you suggest, planes hit there didn’t come back.

    Premier Icon wwaswas
    Subscriber

    I think we are really agreeing mike – I don’t think strava data is intrinsically useless, it’s just such a small proportion (and possibly skewed to one type of cycling) of the people who do (or want to) cycle that provide it.

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    add armour where there weren’t any holes

    Yep – and that is one possible use for the Strava data: identifying cycling blackspots.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    Yes I agree with the data aspect but people claiming statistical reasons for not using a data source and then making completely speculative assumptions about the users that build that data amuses/pisses me off.

    bland
    Member

    What they need to do is employ cyclists in the cycle planning dept!

    The info strava collects is invaluable, interpreting it is where the skill comes in though!

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    What they need to do is employ cyclists in the cycle planning dept!

    Much the same problem. “Cyclists” already cycle.

    Its not irrelevant data as long as its used properly. Unfortunately, given the complexity of the data, I think thats going to be unlikely.

    However, what else is there? *some* data is better than no data, even if its a skewed sample.

    Whilst it might not lead to a Netherlands style cycling Utopia, its difficult to see how that would happen anyway. The Government typically adopts a “predict and supply” method for building roads, rather than taking a pro-active stance of building for the sort of transport options they’d like people to use.

    basically, its probably the least worst option right now.

    Premier Icon wwaswas
    Subscriber

    basically, its probably the least worst option right now.

    Sustrans should throw their full weight behind it then πŸ˜‰

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    I realise you are teasing wwaswas, but folk using good Sustrans facilities (e.g. traffic-free rides to school, low speed utility riding to the shops etc) is exactly the kind of thing this data won’t show very well.

    Premier Icon wwaswas
    Subscriber

    I was just referring back to the previous thread on their new book GrahamS.

    I agree with you and it’s the point I’m making – the infrastructure likely to see most use by occasional/casual cyclists will be ignored int he Strava data.

    Which is fine if the people looking at the data accept that and account for it. The problem I have is that I think that like most things once there’s concrete data available then people tend to try and hang everything they do of it as justification for spending money. The actual value of the data and it’s usefulness can become lost.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    Which means we need different data to investigate that. Those thinking Strava now drives cycle infrastructure policy see the cartoon above on extrapolation.

    lovewookie
    Member

    whilst I agree that the data should be better represented as time dependent overlays, what we have on the base of it is roads and routes that are identified as common pathways to get from a-b. Roads that are most used will have other ‘users’ used to encountering cyclists. This may then follow that it is safer to cycle on these roads, perhaps as other traffic will expect cyclists to be there.

    It may also allow planners to identify the suitability for cycle traffic along a particular stretch, especially if it were scheduled for upgrading for example and provide alternative cycle corridors, or even consider cycle traffic in the grand scheme.

    maybe.

    Premier Icon deus
    Subscriber

    Why are we complaining about LA’s using Strava heatmaps to hopefully try and improve the cycling infrastructure, ok the data may not be perfect, but if they use other methods of data gathering (which will probably cost more and may not be as easily available) as well as this then they should be able to make decisions that improve the lot of just about all cyclists using the roads.

    Or we could just randomly create cycling routes that aren’t very well laid out and don’t go anywhere particularly useful (much as we have at the moment) and people will still use at least some of them…..

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    The really scary thing is that data like this could be used incompetently and achieve the exact opposite of what is needed.

    e.g. council/media/motoring-campaigners uses the data to look at how many people use the nice top-quality Dutch-style segregated cycle path that was installed as a trial and they discover that “everyone is just cycling on the road instead”.

    The reality is of course that the folk on the segregated cycle path are far more likely to be doing casual or utility cycling so are far less likely to Strava it than the warriors shunning the cycle path so they can blitz down the road.

    Premier Icon wwaswas
    Subscriber

    I think we’ll have to wait and see whether the Strava data becomes;

    “Cyclists do this”

    or

    “Some cyclists do this”

    over time.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    I’m just waiting for a statistical analysis of where people would cycle if they could/felt like it/pretended to care about stuff when surveyed.

    bikebouy
    Member

    If I was the CEO fo Strava I’d be looking to maximise Income and to that end I see where they are coming from and see no reason why they wouldn’t want to share that data either.
    Now then, take the demograph of folks on Strava and who record on Strava and you’ll be hitting a small minority, fair enough. It will also distort the data by stating folks ride along at say 15mph when in reality the population is rides at more like 10mph.
    But..
    But I think it can be used, used for ID’ing WHERE a lot of folks ride and WHY.
    Clearly fast routes and easy routes will show up, a sort of Superhighway route that we have here in London. To maximise that and place that on the lap of MrCity/TownPlannerType and it may actually help his (rough) decision making process.
    It’ll add to the various Groups that get called into meetings to, combine Strava and Local gather information and I think you are onto a Winner.

    And Strava get more income and the CEO is happy and this from App Startup started on the notion of folks wanting to record and race in a virtual world..

    Gene
    i
    ous
    πŸ˜‰

    Premier Icon aracer
    Subscriber

    weekendworrier wrote:

    ’Strava users’ will tend to avoid shared use paths, quiet side roads with lots of junctions, a diversion through back streets to avoid a busy junction because they’re usually more confident and experienced riders.

    So actually they’re choosing the routes which less confident cyclists might like there to be infrastructure on. If you build good infrastructure going the way they want to go then Strava users would choose to use it (and the chances are other people might also want to go the same way).

    weekendworrier wrote:

    It’s possible mike but I think everyone’s ‘gut reaction’ is that there’s not many kids Stravaing their ride to school

    Now there’s a thought. The KOM from the school gate to the playground will be mine – do you hear me, mine.

    GrahamS wrote:

    What they need to do is employ cyclists in the cycle planning dept!

    Much the same problem. “Cyclists” already cycle.
    [/quote]

    You reckon David Hembrow would do a poor job? Come to that I think I have a fair idea of what would really be useful to get non-cyclists cycling. So long as they don’t employ a time triallist.

    GrahamS wrote:

    I realise you are teasing wwaswas, but folk using good Sustrans facilities (e.g. traffic-free rides to school, low speed utility riding to the shops etc) is exactly the kind of thing this data won’t show very well.

    I think you’ve just proved my point from the last thread. If Strava people aren’t using those Sustrans routes, then they’re not the quality I’m after.

    Premier Icon cookeaa
    Subscriber

    Its all about finding useful ways to interpret and apply the data you are able to obtain.

    So the problem is that you want to see data on the cycling habits of people who don’t currently cycle in urban areas, but would if given better infrastructure/safer roads…

    I think you’ll struggle to get that Data somehow, next best thing you can obtain is data for those brave souls currently using bicycles in the area you are interested in, Strava provide this data.

    Yes their will be holes in it, not all demographics will want to, or be aware of Strava, but If you can sort the data you do get by time of day/year you’ll see patterns of use that roughly outline the current major cycling commuter routes, and putting that against your current Transport layout as an LA you should be able to focus your efforts on the most used routes and identify risk spots…
    Those patterns of use probably won’t match extant cycle infrastructure and major road layouts, cyclists have a habbit of taking routes based on the trade off between journey time and risk from traffic.

    At this point you’ll need to get out from behind the desk and actually go and look at the infrastructure on the ground as it is currently used, it will allow some slightly more targeted assessment.

    Say you have a major four way junction, under traffic light control that your Strava data tells you a large number of cyclists travel through one way in the morning and the opposite way in the evening, and that most of them see a dip in speed and/or a significant time stood still at this point, you now know where and when to stand to figure out how cyclists are tackling this section: are they using pavements/cycle lanes to avoid stopping, does this bring them into conflict with Ped’s or cars if/when they rejoin the main carriageway? Are those that stay on the road finding themselves at risk from “enthusiastic” drivers when lights change, are some choosing to RLJ? is current cycle infrastructure working (ASLs, cycle lanes, cycle paths)?

    And of course this leads you onto what could be implemented to improve safety and avoid users feeling the need to circumvent that “Proper” route…

    There will be indicators from Strava data that applies to all cyclists behaviour that should help LAs target their cycle infrastructure work…

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    You reckon David Hembrow would do a poor job? Come to that I think I have a fair idea of what would really be useful to get non-cyclists cycling.

    Yeah I think I do too. πŸ˜€

    But I know from previous conversations that we are both people who take in a more-than-typical interest in cycling infrastructure and have read around the subject a fair bit. i.e. we are not simply “cyclists”

    Employing “a cyclist” in the Planning Dept (and listening to them) would certainly help avoid some of the typical mistakes in cycle provision for existing cyclists.
    But you need someone with that further interest in alternative infrastructure and cycling development to really get more people cycling.

    If Strava people aren’t using those Sustrans routes, then they’re not the quality I’m after.

    Taking the Strava stereotype, that implies you would only accept infrastructure that you can race for KOMs on.

    So something like this would be unacceptable to you?


    — Source: http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2013/09/the-school-run-in-assen.html

    How many folk on that path are using Strava do you reckon? πŸ˜‰

    JonEdwards
    Member

    So something like this would be unacceptable to you?

    Pretty much, yes.

    I don’t do Strava, but I do want to get from A->B as fast as possible – especially when commuting (time spent travelling = time wasted). To ride on a cycleway like that, in that kind of traffic, at the speed I usually go would be downright irresponsible. (and I’m no race head – I commute on a brompton now!)

    If it had next to no one on it (and wasn’t covered in broken glass!), I’d be very happy to use it – especially if it was more direct than the road route. (some of the London Cycle Superhighways aren’t too bad)

    Yes, that’s a very selfish outlook. Maybe that’s what 20+ years of bike commuting does for you. Or maybe I’m just an oik.

    The thing I like about roads is there’s a set of rules to work by – “The Highway Code” – that means that the behaviour of most road users is predictable for any given situation. It doesn’t always work, but it does give a good starting point of what people *should* be doing. That’s just doesn’t exist for cycle paths or shared use pavements, and probably can never do so once you start chucking young children in the equation.

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    Pretty much, yes.

    And that right there is the problem.

    People call for “better cycling infrastructure” but we have very differing ideas about what that means.

    To some it means safe, segregated Dutch-style paths that are usable by everybody (like that photo). To others it just means modifying the road network to better accommodate fast on-road vehicular cyclists.

    No wonder government struggles to implement the right thing – we haven’t even decided what the right thing is!

    Yes, that’s a very selfish outlook.

    It’s an honest description of what you want.

    But I don’t think it is what is needed to massively increase the number of people leaving their cars at home and doing every-day journeys by bike instead.

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