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Archive for the ‘Funding’ Category

“CycleStreets: our story” – Green Enterprise talk, Monday 28th, Cambridge

Monday, January 28th, 2013

Green Enterprise

We’re giving a talk to Green Enterprise, in Cambridge, today (Monday 28th January 2013).

Themes covered in the talk will include:

  • Who we are
  • What we provide
  • A bit about how the journey planner works
  • OpenStreetMap and data collection
  • Volunteer data collection
  • Open-sourcing
  • Funding
  • Competition
  • Big projects
  • Challenges for the future

Do come! Full details are on the Green Enterprise website.

7.30pm-9.30pm, 28th January 2013.
Venue: Friends’ Meeting House, Jesus Lane, Cambridge.

Cambridge is only an hour from London by train, so well worth a visit.

Wordle

Cycle journey planning in Scotland

Friday, May 11th, 2012

Over the last year we’ve been pleased to work with Cycling Scotland on a range of projects, now all completed and outlined below.

These projects, which have been achieved thanks to Cycling Scotland’s grant and funding of £22k, will help improve improve CycleStreets, to help people find their way and consider cycling as a practical option for their journeys.

Cycling Scotland is the national cycle promotion organisation for Scotland, working to establish cycling as an acceptable, attractive and practical lifestyle option, and aiming to make Scotland a nation of cyclists.

Cycle journey planner for Cycling Scotland

The new Scotland Cycle Journey Planner has launched!

This is a customised, embedded site within Cycling Scotland’s website, enabling people to plan journeys from A-B directly within their site. It includes quick links to a number of cities in Scotland.

Community mapping guide

We’ve created a community mapping guide, which explains how people can help improve the data used for the journey planner. This is part of Cycling Scotland’s ‘Community Cycle Mapping’ project which encourages local communities to capture cycling-related information so that it can improve the journeys of others.

Finding out about good cycle routes – where it is safe and convenient to cycle – means availability of good maps and the knowledge of local people about their area.

The guide is also available on Cycling Scotland’s website.

Improving the routing by supporting more detailed street data

Part of the grant from Cycling Scotland helped us to add support for more detailed information coming from in OpenStreetMap. By interpreting things like surface quality, various barriers, etc., we can improve the quality of journeys that we can suggest to users, leading to ever-improving routes.

We also began work on supporting turn delays in the engine, to reduce the problem of wiggly routes in the journey planner engine. We hope to complete this in coming months. Finishing this will mean we can improve the practicability of routes that people follow.

Hosting fund contribution

The grant included a contribution towards hosting, which has ensured we can cover use of the main journey planner for Scotland for three years. (Donations, enabling us to improve the hosting across the UK, are welcome!)

Android app

The CycleStreets Android app, available FREE was released last year more quickly as a result of the grant.

The app is well-rated, at 4.3/5 with 99 reviews. Most reviews seem very positive and highlight how the app has helped them find better routes.

Mobile web site

The grant also enabled us to develop a new mobile small-screen version of our website. The site ensures that people can access the journey planner easily via their mobile, for a variety of types of mobile device.

It has just been honoured as a winner of ‘Best Application Design‘ by the usability expert, Jakob Nielsen.

Upgraded hosting for CycleStreets (Technical post)

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

We’ve recently completed a switch over of the whole CycleStreets system to upgraded hosting. Our previous primary server has been extremely reliable and, having just checked, I find it has been up for 795 days, and has only been rebooted once in the last two-and-a-half years.

The new primary server is needed to support expansion of the journey planner, to handle the growing amount of data we manage in the CycleStreets system and to provide increased reliability of our services,  as well as for our new project, Cyclescape. We now also have additional redundancy.

The switchover has turned out to be a rather more complex procedure than expected as there are quite a number of different components that are required to make CycleStreets all work smoothly. This recent switchover it has helped to tighten up a number of areas. This will make future switchovers easier to handle, and a major benefit has been a restructuring of our documentation.

We have tighted up how we handle file permissions and this means that developers no longer need sudo access to rollout code onto the live server. The structure we’ve got for that feels a lot cleaner and has improved the security of the system.

The hardest part of all this was the moment of switchover itself. As the system is live and being used to generate thousands of routes per day we aimed to have as little downtime as possible. The data on both systems was synchronised before turning off the live server and switching over the DNS. This was done in the small hours and because of careful prepartion was completed in about 15 minutes. When the new server became live it was impossible to tell that anything had changed. Only a few things were missed out in the switchover – the automatic tweeting of our photo-of-the-day, and the updating of a missed DNS record – but both of these are now fixed.

The system does feel more responsive now, and we’ve noticed that some of our scripts run twice as quick as previously.

We are very grateful to our hosts, Mythic Beasts, for their continued support and technical advice.

Funding for this upgrade has been partly helped by a grant from Cycling Scotland and from donations.

Cycling Scotland

Detailed cycling attribute data for better cycle routing

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

We're aiming with CycleStreets to provide the highest possible quality cycle routing, to give people trust in routes they plan. We've heard from many users how our routing is helping them give the confidence to use a bike for their journeys, and from people who've discovered cut-throughs and safer, easier routes for their existing journeys.

Increasing the quality of the routes found by CycleStreets means using more sources of good quality data. For instance, a cycle lane can improve a planned cycle journey, but not if the cycle lane is too narrow. On the other hand if the cycle lane is wide and has a good surface, it can be better than a shorter route on a busier road.

OSM logo

The information that CycleStreets uses to base its route recommendations comes primarily from the OpenStreetMap (OSM) project. Over time that data has become more detailed in both depth and breadth, and it continues to do so.

Over the last 18 months, the UK's Department for Transport (DfT) has undertaken a GPS-based survey of cycling infrastructure in towns and cities around England. This has been used for a related project, the Transport Direct multi-modal journey planner.

The DfT is keen to see this data used more widely and we've been talking to them about using it in our routing, by making it available as open data that could be merged into OpenStreetMap.

We're delighted now to announce that we're helping the DfT with its laudable objective to make this data more widely available. We’re working with its contractor, CycleCity Guides, who are well-known for producing a wide range of Local Authority cycle maps. The release of this data is one of a number of other datasets that the Cabinet Office has recently announced will be made available.

Rather than merely dump the data on data.gov.uk, the DfT is going a step further to help it be used, a development it should be highly commended for.

Respecting the way the way the OpenStreetMap community works, the DfT is planning to:

  • Make the data available in a fully OSM-compatible format, aligned to OSM geometry with converted attributes.
  • Simultaneously publish a dataset aligned to Ordnance Survey's (OS) Open data
  • Use a standard, OSM-compatible license (the Open Government License), with the data unencumbered by OS derivative data issues.

This data, which has mostly been collected by surveyors on bicycles, has the potential to significantly improve the quality of routing in some areas of England. We are well aware, however, that data collected by other agencies can undermine the work of OSM volunteers in the area if not handled sensitively, and so we've stressed that automated, bulk imports would not be accepted by the OSM community.

Instead, useful data needs two things if it is to be used in OSM. Number one is a way of inspecting and accepting/rejecting the data on a street-by-street basis via the simplest and quickest means possible. Secondly encouraging routing engines and renderers to use the data. Therefore:

  • Funding we've obtained will pay for a month or two of solid work on Potlatch 2, the default editor on the OSM website. We've engaged Andy Allan, one of Potlatch 2's core developers, for this. The funding will lead, amongst other improvements, to a generic tool to enable donated data to be merged in (or rejected), street-by-street via manual inspection and approval. A range of general usability improvements (such as those in the P2 buglist) will also be funded.
  • We'll be implementing support for many more advanced routing attributes, which Andy and hopefully other OSMers will be helping with. This will demonstrate the difference that really detailed data can make to the quality of cycle routes found by engines like CycleStreets when the community merges in (by inspection) this type of data.
  • A range of other improvements will also be made, for instance, changes to our feedback system so that errors in OpenStreetMap, found as a result of people using the routing, can be more easily discussed and fixed in OSM.

We hope the OSM community will react positively to these developments.

With community support, this data should help get lots more useful data into OSM and help it become a superbly detailed dataset ever more quickly.

We've been particularly impressed at the way that our contacts at the DfT have been open to learning about the way the OSM community works. We particularly hope that the success of this project will act as a demonstration and lead to more trailblazing open data initiatives where government learns from existing communities to 'do open data the right way'.

CycleStreets campaigner toolkit bid wins GeoVation contest!

Friday, May 6th, 2011

We’re pleased to announce that our bid, for a comprehensive online campaigning toolkit to assist cycle campaign groups around the UK, is a winner in the GeoVation contest!

It brings £27,000 for the development of a toolkit which, in the words of one supporter, should be “a hugely important step forward for all cycle campaigning groups”.

Turning problem reports into implemented solutions

Our bid was one of 155 ideas submitted to the GeoVation challenge, on the theme of “How can we improve transport in Britain?”. Our bid was shortlisted, and we attended the GeoVation Camp in March to help develop the proposal amongst a total of 30 ideas invited. We were one of the final ten proposals, and took part in a Dragon’s Den -style pitch on Wednesday.

We were delighted to be picked as one of the winners who share the £150k pot of funding.

   

Photos by Ordnance Survey, licenced CC BY-NC 2.0

Martin Lucas-Smith, who presented the bid alongside CycleStreets’ routemaster, Simon Nuttall, said:

“We were delighted to be picked by the Ordnance Survey’s judges as one of the winners. The £27,000 of funding will enable us to get this much-needed project off the ground.

“As a member of one of the many local cycle campaign groups who will benefit, I’m all too aware of the large number of issues on the street network that need improvement, and the difficulty of managing this deluge of problems.

“The new system will help campaigners around the country convert these problem reports into prioritised, well-evidenced solution proposals. It should help them work more productively with local councils to see changes implemented.”

We’d like to thank all the groups who provided quotes of support for our bid, including the CTC, Cyclenation, London Cycling Campaign, and a variety of groups around the country. We’re working to provide you with a really great, useful and user-friendly system that will save a lot of time and effort.

Some of the things the new system will be able to do are:

  • Enable members of the public and campaigners easily to pinpoint where cycling is difficult
  • Help groups prioritise what to work on
  • Pull in planning application data automatically, so that potential issues needing attention are readily accessible
  • Automatically notify and involve people who cycle through an area – who therefore have an interest in seeing issues fixed
  • Make geographical data such as collision data and accessibility analysis easily available, to provide context
  • Enable simpler and more focussed discussion based on specific issues, groups of issues, or themes
  • Enable best practice to be ‘pulled-in’ to discussions, by providing off-the-shelf examples shared from elsewhere in the UK
  • Enable groups to include LA contacts in these discussions if they wish
  • Enable groups to assemble ‘solution’ resources so that problems can be resolved on the ground
  • Give groups a variety of ways of publishing their activity on their website easily.

GeoVation is run by the Ordnance Survey, and uses funding from the Technology Strategy Board and Ideas In Transit, and the Department for Transport. It runs challenges to address specific needs within communities, which may be satisfied in part through the use of geography.

We’ll have more details soon about the next steps. As the plans develop, we’ll be issuing calls for comments from groups in the cycling community, before we start with any coding.

We’re delighted also that MySociety’s strong bid for a mobile version of their forthcoming FixMyTransport was another winner – congratulations to them!

Circular leisure routes – coming soon to the Bike Hub app

Friday, April 29th, 2011

We're pleased to announce that we're working with Bike Hub to create a new circular (A-A) leisure routing mode for the Bike Hub app for iPhone and Android.

Bike Hub is a joint initiative of the Bicycle Association and the Association of Cycle Traders via the Bike Hub levy scheme. The objective of Bike Hub is to generate funds from within the cycle industry to support the future of cycling in the UK.

The Bike Hub app for iPhone and Android is the 'cycle satnav' for the UK – with a 3D mode for planning and following cycle journeys anywhere in the UK. CycleStreets provides the routing behind the app.

   

When CycleStreets first went live, we began by offering a choice of A to B routes for the everyday cyclist. In feedback we receive we've frequently been asked to provide support for routes that go through intermediate points. We've meshed these requests with Bike Hub's desire to help people discover attractive cycle routes where they live.

The result will add a leisure routing mode to the app that can suggest circular routes or construct a circular route through several places of interest. On mobile this will be exclusive to the Bike Hub app. Leisure routes will be available on the main CycleStreets website so that they can be transferred to the app.

Together with other funds we have recently raised as part of our funding drive, this work should enable us to take on a developer to enhance the routing in various ways. We'll shortly be hiring – stay tuned!

Improving cycle journey planning in Scotland – with Cycling Scotland

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Cycling Scotland

We're pleased to announce that we are working with Cycling Scotland to enhance cycle journey planning in Scotland!

Cycling Scotland, the organisation charged with getting more Scots on their bikes, runs a range of initiatives such as Bikeability Scotland, the freshnlo Pedal for Scotland bike ride, cycle instructor training and more. They are keen to provide cycle journey planning – to help remove a key barrier that people face when starting cycling or when they move into a new area.

As part of their journey planning activity, Cycling Scotland are extremely keen to motivate local community groups to map their area into OpenStreetMap, which forms the heart of CycleStreets' journey planner. Although there are areas like Edinburgh which have very high-quality mapping, thanks to the great work of OpenStreetMap volunteers there, other areas of the country are not so well-covered.

To help, we will be creating resources to help local communities with this mapping activity. Principally, this will involve creation of a user-friendly guide which introduces OpenStreetMap, explains how we use it, how people can collect data, and importantly outline the key things that improve the quality of cycle routing. (We hope this guide will also be of wider use to the OpenStreetMap community elsewhere, too, even though it will of course be tailored for Scotland.)

Alongside this work, we'll be creating a customised journey planner for Cycling Scotland, to be hosted on their website. This will benefit, thanks to a grant from them, from the introduction of more advanced routing attributes in our journey planner engine. By encouraging people to collect more detail about the cycling environment in their area, this will improve further the quality of our routing. Naturally, this will all be explained in the user-friendly guide for collectors.

Cycling Scotland are also supporting us to make our routing available more widely on different types of mobile phones, so that it is as accessible as possible.

We think this model of helping get more people cycle by engaging local communities and building on existing work is a brilliant model.

We are looking forward to undertaking these activities in partnership with Cycling Scotland, and will report in coming months as each part is completed and made available.

OpenCycleMap in Scotland – cc-by-sa OpenStreetMap contributors

More support for our GeoVation bid coming in

Monday, April 25th, 2011

As we prepare to face the judges at the Dragon's Den -style contest for GeoVation on May 4th, we're encouraged that more support is continuing to come in.

CPRE (The Campaign to Protect Rural England) work actively on transport matters amongst other issues around the UK.

They have added their support:

"The Campaign to Protect Rural England is delighted to be able to support the CycleStreets GeoVation Challenge bid. We have been working with local communities and parish councils to increase travel options in rural areas as part of our Transport Toolkit project, which was featured in the Department for Transport's Local Transport White Paper earlier this year. Through this work we have found there is a real need for new on-line collaboration tools to help improve conditions for cycling. We believe these innovative proposals would be a huge step forward not just for cycling campaign groups but for others engaged at the local level who seek to improve the range of sustainable travel choices."

– Ralph Smyth, Senior Transport Campaigner, CPRE

Also, the creator of the heavily-used OpenCycleMap map, Andy Allan, has written on his blog about "The Problem of Cycle Complaining" and supporting our bid.

He describes our bid as "a hugely important step forward for all cycle campaigning groups". He hits the nail on the head, recognising the same problems that we and other groups around the country have found, as this extract explains:

If a cycle group want to approach a council to convert one-way roads into two-way, they are unlikely to have the traffic simulations to show the five most useful changes. There’s just a huge gulf in tools and technologies available to each side, so when the only way things work is for one side to suggest and the other to accept/refuse, it’s easier to see where so much reactionary complaining comes from.

Enter the guys behind CycleStreets, with their “Helping campaigners campaign” proposal. You can read it for yourself, but in summary is a web-based tool to track, manage and develop solutions to infrastructure problems facing cyclists. While it’s not a panacea for everything I’ve discussed, I think it’s a hugely important step forward for all cycle campaigning groups. Their proposal has been short-listed for the GeoVation awards finals in two weeks’ time and I wish them the best of luck, the funding from that would really kick things off. If you want to show your support then go for it, through your blogs, twitter or however you see fit. Even if they don’t manage the grand prize I hope to see their proposals come to fruition in the near future, especially given their track record of getting things done. I hope to get the opportunity to help their ideas see the light of day – it will be an excellent tool to help turn cycle complaining into the results we want to see.

CPRE and Andy Allan of OpenCycleMap join other supporters of the bid:

  • Cyclenation, the national federation of cycle campaign groups
  • CTC, the national cyclists’ organisation
  • London Cycling Campaign
  • Richmond Cycling Campaign
  • Bristol
  • Pedals (Nottingham Cycling Campaign)
  • Dublin Cycling Campaign
  • Cambridge Cycling Campaign
  • Spokes – the Lothian Cycle Campaign
  • Spokes (East Kent Cycle Campaign)
  • Loughborough & District Cycle Users' Campaign
  • Push Bikes, the Birmingham Cycling Campaign
  • CycleSheffield

Read their quotes of support in section 10 our full bid document.

If you're free on 4th May, we'd love you to come to the GeoVation Showcase to support us (and vote for us for the additional Community Prize!). It's a daytime event on the south coast, so we're aware it may not be easy for people to come to, but do come should you happen to be free. There are a number of other interesting projects, so it will be a good chance to hear about them and mingle and network with other innovators.

Get your free ticket here: http://geovationshowcase2011.eventbrite.com/

Here's a great picture of many of the people whose ideas got through to the shortlisting stage of GeoVation:

GeoVation

Photo credit: GeoVation blog

Press release: CycleStreets’ cycling project to face Dragon’s Den -style contest

Monday, April 25th, 2011

A Cambridge-based project to improve cycling around the Britain has reached the finals of a national funding contest, GeoVation, run by the Ordnance Survey. GeoVation aims to combine Geography and Innovation to help fund ideas which will help improve transport of various kinds.

The bid by Cambridge-based CycleStreets, who run the UK-wide cycle journey planner website, has reached the final 10 projects aiming to improve transport in Britain. Over 150 entries were initially submitted, and CycleStreets have succeeded in the initial shortlisting stage and a subsequent workshop event.

The 'Dragon's Den' -style event to select the winning projects will be held on 4th May at the Ordnance Survey's new eco-friendly headquarters in Southampton. This 'GeoVation Showcase' event will select around five winners, who will share a bounty of £150,000, to enable the projects to be developed.

CycleStreets' proposal is for a web-based system to improve the effectiveness of cycling advocacy groups around the UK. These groups aim to get more people on their bikes, by encouraging local councils to create safer and more convenient conditions for cycling. It is designed to help volunteers who care passionately about improving cycling to work together as effectively as possible.

CycleStreets' proposal has the backing of both of the national cycling campaign bodies and a range of groups around the UK, including Cambridge Cycling Campaign. For instance, CTC – the national cyclists' organisation said:

"A webtool for cyclists to help local councils spend their cycling budgets cost-effectively would be a wonderful 'big society' venture, that could yield huge benefits for our health and that of our streets, communities and the environment."

CycleStreets' idea will make use of a variety of information sources, including the Ordnance Survey's boundary and postcode data, collision and planning application information, and OpenStreetMap data.

Dr Chris Parker, GeoVation Co-ordinator at Ordnance Survey, said:

"There are huge and exciting opportunities for geography to be harnessed to help us all travel in a smarter, more sustainable way, as all our finalists have clearly demonstrated. We're looking forward to seeing the CycleStreets pitch and wish them the best of luck."

Notes for editors:

  1. Information about GeoVation, and the finalists – including CycleStreets' proposal – can be found online at http://www.geovation.org.uk/.
  2. Details of CycleStreets' bid, 'Helping Campaigners Campaign' is at http://www.cyclestreets.net/blog/2011/03/06/geovation-bid-shortlisted/
  3. For more details, contact CycleStreets
  4. CycleStreets is a not-for-profit company based in Cambridge, and was created as an off-shoot of Cambridge Cycling Campaign.
  5. CycleStreets runs the UK-wide Cycle journey planner and Photomap at www.cyclestreets.net , which has had over 640,000 journeys planned. Users can plan cycle-friendly routes from A-B, and will get three options – a quietest, fastest and balanced route option. The Photomap enables people to add photos of cycling-related problems and good practice to the map.
  6. A copy of the Ordnance Survey logo and the CycleStreets logo are available. A full-size version of the graphic above is also available.

Through to the GeoVation final!

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

On the way to the OSLast week we took part in the GeoVation Camp at the Ordnance Survey's splendid new HQ in Southampton. It was a fun, if exhausting, weekend.

The purpose of the weekend was for GeoVation to narrow down to a final shortlist the ideas that would go to the final.

GeoVation presentationOur proposal is called 'Helping Campaigners Campaign' (a more catchy title to be determined!), and is aimed at making the work of existing cycle campaign groups be as efficient and effective as possible.

Over the weekend, we, along with the other 20 groups through to this stage of the contest, developed their ideas and prepared a presentation to the judges as well as a 2-minute pecha kucha presentation.

We're pleased to say that we're into the final 10! We'll be attending the final pitching stage on May 4th, and are looking forward to it. If we are amongst the winning groups, this would result in funding of around £30,000 to implement the idea.

Discussing the proposals   Developing the proposals

Several other proposals that we really liked, such as MySociety's FixMyTransport for mobile and a mobile multi-modal journey planner (which we hope would use our routing!) were also through to the final, which is great news.

We welcome your feedback, especially to report bugs or give us route feedback.

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