A new website, Urban Cycle Parking, built by CycleStreets, has been launched by London Cycling Campaign and Transport for London, aiming to outline where existing bike parking facilities are available in and around the capital and invites people to highlight existing facilities as well as outlining where more is needed.
The site builds on the crowdsourcing components of our data API, which had various enhancements made to enable auditing facilities.
Image credit: Primary Image
London Cycling Campaign’s Chief Executive Ashok Sinha commented:
“Substantially more high quality cycle parking at stations and on streets is vital to sustain the welcome growth in cycle use.
“The launch of this interactive Urban Cycle Parking website is a great opportunity for London cyclists to play an active role in improving cycling provision and to suggest the right places to install cycle stands.”
Cyclists just need to click on the map, or take a photo (which will auto-locate the image on a modern phone), and add a few details, such as the number of stands which would be useful. After agreeing to the open data license, the location is added, so that TfL can consider the suggestions.
The site has been in public beta for several boroughs. Various improvements have been made to the site during this period to enable a wider rollout.
The visual design of the site, which is mobile-friendly, was created by Mike from Primary Image, who was a pleasure to work with. We then worked with this design to implement the functionality.
The Urban Cycle Parking site replaces the previous Cycle Parking 4 London site that we created several years ago for LCC.
CTC, the national cycling charity, has launched a new cycling infrastructure map to help communicate what makes good conditions for cycling and where improvements need to be made. CTC have linked up with CycleStreets to ensure these locations are also saved to the CycleStreets Photomap. Chris Peck, CTC, explains this new initiative.
What is the Space for Cycling campaign?
London Cycling Campaign created Space for Cycling, which in London is focussing on lobbying candidates in this year’s local elections. CTC is taking LCC’s London-born campaign nationwide, and is coordinating the campaign to seek commitments from local politicians to provide Space for Cycling, in conjunction with the Cyclenation federation of local campaign groups around the UK. The campaign is funded by a generous grant from the cycle industry’s ‘Bike Hub’ levy, run by the Bicycle Association, and by private donations.
Space for Cycling calls on councils to improve our streets so that anyone can cycle anywhere. But what does that mean in practice? CTC wants your photos and examples of infrastructure that’s good or bad to explain to councils what works, and what needs improvement.
You can submit the photos to the map, and write to councillors, challenging them to make Space for Cycling in your area.
Space for Cycling in Brighton – bus stop bypasses on the Lewes Road
If you’ve got photos of examples of infrastructure for cycling – whether good or bad – CTC wants to see them.
Posted in API, Community, Photomap | Comments Off on Space for Cycling – your infrastructure photos mapped
Add your suggestions to London Cycling Campaign’s map submission system that we created for them recently:
This is one of a number of customised views we have created of our Photomap, making it easy to request and collection locations of problematic areas around cities. If you’d like something similar done, get in touch.
Built in jQuery Mobile and HTML5, this extends CycleStreets’ mobile support beyond our well-received Android and iPhone apps to cover other platforms, including iPad and BlackBerry.
Just like the other apps, you can plan cycling routes while out and about, upload photographs you take along the way, and find photos others have uploaded nearby.
The mobile HTML version has an experimental change from the native apps and desktop CycleStreets. Instead of tapping the map to add a draggable marker, we use fixed crosshairs in the middle of the screen. We hope this makes route planning a little easier, by reducing the possibility of accidental clicks.
Once you have a route planned, it’s easy to compare the different journey types that CycleStreets offers – fastest, quietest, or balanced – and see individual turns.
In a somewhat alpha feature (as HTML5 doesn’t yet offer brilliant phonecam integration), you can also upload photos you’ve previously taken of cycling problems nearby. And you can see photos that others have added to CycleStreets.
We automatically save your routes for future reference, and your preferences for cycling speed, route type, and preferred map type – OpenStreetMap, OpenCycleMap, or Ordnance Survey.
For me as a coder, this was pretty much a dream project: a meaningful application, a cutting-edge platform, and a supportive project lead, in the form of Martin, to manage it all.
My goal for the mobile HTML app was to create something easy to use and as accessible as possible – while being realistic about the fact that CycleStreets routing, with its maps and polylines, is inevitably going to work best on a smartphone as a native app.
To that end, technical readers may be interested in the following notes:
jQuery Mobile: As we were using jQuery anyway, I chose jQuery Mobile for its lovely look and feel, its clever Ajax page transitions, and its sensible graded browser support – plus a general good feeling about the project. Now in beta, it’s perhaps a little slow (they’re working on it), but definitely a project to watch.
HTML5: We use geolocation (ahem) plus localStorage to save user details – though the app should still function if neither are available. There’s clearly also scope for offline route storage, which we hope to add in v1.1.
Responsive design: This would obviously have been nice (for an example, visit FixMyTransport in a desktop browser, and then resize it so it’s really small). However, it would also have required changes to the CycleStreets desktop CSS beyond the scope of this project – though I believe it’s still in the longer-term CycleStreets world domination plan.
Browser testing: Technically, the most challenging part of the project was not coding, but finding the emulators and real devices to test on. We’ve tested in Android, mobile Safari, iPad, and BlackBerry (led by the UK browser stats), plus Opera Mobile and Fennec on Android, but we want to hear more from Nokia and WinPhone7 users.
Help us improve!
This is still very much a beta. However, mobile HTML is a long-term play for CycleStreets, so we expect to add lots of improvements in the coming months and years.
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”.
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.
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!
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."
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
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.
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."
CycleStreets is a not-for-profit company based in Cambridge, and was created as an off-shoot of Cambridge Cycling Campaign.
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.
Last 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.
Our 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.
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.
Today is our second birthday – CycleStreets was launched on 20th March 2009.
The last year has seen a huge amount of development work, leading to new features, speed improvements, and more. However, the next six months will be even busier as the project really ramps up!
In the first year, CycleStreets planned 67,000 routes. In our second year, around 437,000 routes have been planned, and the rate of increase continues to climb. By November we had planned enough routes to cycle to the moon ten times, and in February, we reached the milestone of half a million journeys planned.
A major challenge we faced a year ago was the technical challenge of generating the routes fast enough.
A year ago, CycleStreets used a routing engine written in PHP (!) that we created for the Cambridge-only predecessor of CycleStreets – the Cambridge Cycling Campaign journey planner. It was slow, taking half a minute to plan a route across London, and taking up most of the system resources. Effectively, it was the wrong technology and didn't scale to UK-wide routing.
We held our first Developer Day, which lead to very productive discussions about the routing engine and how we could provide routes to users of the site faster. A friend of the project, George, wrote us a new engine (using Python) which lead to a massive speed-up. Then Robin, another volunteer, took the Python engine and created an even faster version in C++. This has been in place for most of the year and has quietly sat at the heart of the system, planning routes in a few GB of RAM while barely challenging the processor.
The work on the routing engine meant that we have been able continually to increase the maximum planning distance, which is now 200 miles (320km), which is well above a day's cycling! The development version of the system can even now do Dover to Cape Wrath!
Improving the routing speed was a key requirement for mobile apps, several of which signed up to use our routing through the year. These include the leading app for the London cycle hire scheme – London Cycle: Maps & Routes, plus two other excellent 'boris-bike' apps, the briliant and world-first 3D bike satnav app, Bike Hub, BikeRoute for Android and, of course, our own CycleStreets for iPhone app.
Our own iPhone app was made possible thanks to two grants we successfully applied for.
Our Android app is nearing completion, and like the iPhone app is being developed as an open source project. Thanks to our mobile developers for their brilliant work on these.
Through the year we have given various presentations and got involved with various social enterprise -related activities., such as WhereCamp EU, CamTechNet, Cambridge Geek Night and Net2Camb amongst others. These events lead to interesting discussions and also resulted in useful new contacts, such as people helping out with our mobile apps.
It was a particular plesure to give a presentation to Net2Camb as it gave us the opportunity to speak about the challenges faced by us as a not-for-profit social enterprise, rather than purely talking about technical challenges.
We have launched a funding drive for £130k to raise funds for two full-time developers. Such funds would enable the project to move forward much more quickly.
The DfT has this year been collecting cycling data which we are keen to see added to OpenStreetMap. We have since had informal discussions with Cycling England about use of the data, and how conversion of the data might be undertaken and at what cost. Discussions have been positive, and we feel this data would improve the quality of routes that we can deliver to users.
Over the year, more and more governmental bodies have been linking to us. For instance, in April, Cycling Scotland linked to us, and we are keen to work with them to help motivate people to improve OpenStreetMap data in Scotland. Others, including some of the Cycling Demonstration Towns like Chester and Lancaster now link to CycleStreets, and we have just sent a new brochure to councils around England.
Increasing the flexibility of the CycleStreets platform has been an ongoing priority.
The year has also seen a few developments on the Photomap. This is an area we would like to do much more on, as explained in our GeoVation bid for which we have now been shortlisted.
We created, under contract for Cambridgeshire County Council, a site called 'Cycling Sorted' to help manage the shortage of cycle parking in that area. We are keen to create similar sites for other Local Authorities. We have also created a similar system to support the great work of London Cycling Campaign.
OpenStreetMap is the backbone of our project, and we have been pleased to promote OSM and encourage more mapping for it. Over the summer we helped obtain a database of all the bike shops in the UK, for use in OSM, from the Association of Cycle Traders. Much of this has been merged into OSM, but more needs to be done to complete this crowd-sourcing exercise.
CycleStreets' use of open data saw it being featured on the front page of the government's new data website – data.gov.uk.
Routing quality work, however, remains our highest priority. Our aim is to provide the highest quality routing possible for cycling, using our knowledge as cyclists. Various improvements have been made recently, and we are currently working on new routing attributes and reducing the wigglyness of some routes, which is proving a difficult problem to solve with limited hardware resources.
Simon and Martin, lead developers, would like to thank a range of people who have helped out in various ways, such as Andy, Shaun and David from OpenStreetMap, George and Robin for work on the routing engine, huge support from Chris in Edinburgh, George from Camden, our mobile developers – Alan, Neil, Jez, Theodore, Christopher and Jonathan, advice and a free dev server from our brilliant web hosts Mythic Beasts, our designer Ayesha, Jeremy for occasional advice on business matters, support from key individuals at the CTC, LCC and Cycle Nation plus others in our stakeholder group, Carlton and Bike Hub, helpful ideas and data from cycle campaign groups around the UK, and of course the amazing community of OpenStreetMap contributors whose mapping makes everything possible.
Lastly, we would like to thank our users, whose cycling needs provide us with the inspiration to keep going, and who provide us with much feedback and many great ideas.
The proposal is for an extensive suite of tools that will really help cycling campaigners around the UK – people who are already enthused – to be more effective in their work. It will build on the basic reporting facility in our Photomap and its fleldgling categorisation system.
These groups – large and small, national and local, are the people on the ground who work make cycling better. They're already enthused, so we need to give them as much support as possible.
However, there's a way to go yet – firstly we are invited to develop the idea at the GeoVation Camp, 25 – 27 March. The best ideas, hopefully including ours(!) will then go forward to the final pitching session, the GeoVation Showcase, on May 4th.
Support for our bid
We're pleased to say that the bid now has the support of both of the national cycle campaigning organisations as well as a number of the most active local groups, including the biggest, London Cycling Campaign:
Cyclenation, the national federation of cycle campaign groups
CTC, the national cyclists’ organisation
Cambridge Cycling Campaign
London Cycling Campaign
Richmond Cycling Campaign
Pedals (Nottingham Cycling Campaign)
Dublin Cycling Campaign
Spokes – the Lothian Cycle Campaign
Spokes (East Kent Cycle Campaign)
Loughborough & District Cycle Users' Campaign
Push Bikes, the Birmingham Cycling Campaign
all of whom have written quotes of support. Please let us know if you would like to add your group to the list.
How would it work, in brief?
Cyclists would pinpoint problems (points/lines) on a map, e.g. lack of cycle parking, hostile roads, absence of needed route, poor quality cycling conditions, etc., with a photo if available. Planning applications could also appear automatically where the data is available.
(Mobile apps can also post to the database using the existing infrastructure to enable this.)
Others can publicly comment on each submission and add local knowledge. Examples of best practice elsewhere in the system can be pulled in (e.g. as example solutions).
A 'heat map' of problem areas would start to develop, together with per-point indications of status of a problem
Each location effectively becomes an entry in both the map and in a forum-style view
Campaign group members would log in to their group's area of the website, and would have drag-and-drop -style tools to prioritise and discuss the locations. Locations could also be grouped together, e.g. so that multiple issues arising from one development are treated most effectively.
Documents, e-mails and web references can be 'attached' to a particular issue so that all information relating to one issue is in one place.
Cyclists in each area would also be encouraged to register and to 'draw on the map' their typical journeys (helped by the CycleStreets journey planner), so that they can then be alerted to issues and campaigns along those routes
As an issue progresses in terms of external campaigning, it is updated and 'published' in various ways via the site
Prioritised lists can be 'pushed out' to Local Authority contacts, or they can be invited to join the conversation
When issues are finally resolved these would be marked as such, also publicising the work of the group concerned
Where routes in the CycleStreets journey planner are planned that pass through improved areas, the work of the group would be publicised!
The whole system would need to be extremely user-friendly, so that it gets the widest possible usage and actively engages people without technical skills.