Cycling Visionaries Awards – Project Details

Rapid Mobility Data Survey (BICY)

Rapid Mobility Data Survey (BICY)

Bicycle data is key to advancing our understanding and improvement of bicycling. Yet all too often, key data is not available, or has serious problems or limitations. Lack of data has been a “chicken and egg” problem, where funding does not even go so far as to study bicycling. The BICY project developed a rapid method of obtaining basic bicycle data which even volunteers can implement.

In many cities, advocates hope to obtain better data, sometimes simply to obtain any data at all.

A low-cost, easily replicable, uniform and detailed mobility survey method has been developed and field tested in 14 cities, in eight languages and seven countries in the BICY project (an EU-funded effort to increase bicycling in Central Europe, as defined by the Central Europe Programme co-financed by ERDF).

The survey method can be rapidly implemented by local advocates to obtain or verify basic bicycle data such as the bicycle mode share, as well as to gather additional data helpful to understanding bicycling and its relation to other modes. Three people in three days can collect enough detailed surveys to give highly meaningful results. For a more focused survey, even less time is needed.

Just think: No more lack of data! No more waiting in the dark for an answer that doesn’t come! Data can get the ball rolling in places where there is no attention to bicycling.

The mode share (“% bicycling”) is the first goal of the survey. Mode share is problematic to begin with, as it can be very misleading, because it is used to describe how much bicycling occurs in a city, yet typically focuses only on the longest distance regular commute trip made by workers (so if you bicycle to a train, it doesn’t count; and all the non-worker trips are ignored as well). Your survey can look further, to understand other ways of bicycling than just the work trip, also helping when making the case for providing for more types of bicycling.

The survey can be customized in many ways. Ask your bicyclists what their experience is. Do they feel respected? What are their top priorities? Ask potential bicyclists what they require to become a regular bicyclist. Ask what part of the city they live in; from the time data, you can get an idea of how far they travel for work, school, and shopping. Is infrastructure the key for them? What kind and where? Do they find secure bicycle parking? The possibilities are large.

With imagination and forethought, very useful insights can be obtained from the short survey.

The survey can help identify who would switch from driving to bicycling under various conditions, helping identify and justify particular investment strategies. Enter the top choices for your town and see the results. From this, estimated reductions in carbon emissions and other pollutants reduced can be calculated, and health benefits can be estimated, such as by using the Health Economic Assessment Tool (HEAT) of the World Health Organization, Europe.

Although there is no further financial support for the survey provided by the EU at the conclusion of the project, help can be available on a voluntary or consulting basis to those who need it. However, the existing survey and methodology, coupled with the confidence that it provides a reliable result, should be enough for any committed group to conduct a meaningful and helpful survey effort. The survey was developed by the scientific partner for the BICY Project, the DICAM Transport Engineering Group at the University of Bologna, with support from Escher City Associates.

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Jason Meggs

Bologna, Italy

Category: Science, Research and Development

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