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Intern vacancies Summer 2017

Friday, May 26th, 2017

CycleStreets is seeking one or more paid interns to work on a variety of projects this summer.

About CycleStreets

CycleStreets is a social enterprise based in Cambridge, working to help get more people cycling by the provision of information on cycle-friendly routes, and various tools for use by cycle advocacy groups.

We are best known for our journey planner, aimed at finding practical cycle routes in urban environments. To do that effectively requires collating data from a variety of sources and configuring a routing engine to make the same decisions a knowledgeable cyclist would make to find a route to their destination. We are aiming to provide the highest quality cycle routing in the world that tries to ‘think like a cyclist’.

Our bike routing is used by our own website and apps, as well as in a range of third-party apps (such as Citymapper, Bike Hub, London cycle hire apps, etc.), as well as a variety of transport companies (SDG, Virgin East Coast, mxdata, Traveline Wales/Scotland, etc.). It is also being used for academic research and transport planning, e.g. the Propensity to Cycle Tool project.

The website also includes our Photomap – over 70,000 user-contributed photos of cycling related infrastructure from around the UK and beyond. These are used by activists to promote good practice and highlight problems to avoid in future. The Photomap also powers Local Authority websites such as the Urban Cycle Parking website for TfL. Further tools that present transport data that affects cycling are also in development.

CycleStreets also manages Cyclescape, a geographically-based discussion forum increasingly used by cycling campaign groups across the UK.

With our limited resources given over to focussing on keeping the core services up-to-date and responsive several areas have been left lagging and with work to do. We have a powerful API suite, but the front-end website and apps do not currently reflect its abilities in design and UI terms.

A wide range of potential development areas

Although improvements to our main codebase – the website – is our ideal focus, we’re happy to see work on any of our projects – routing engine, mobile apps, Cyclescape, etc.

The codebase for the main website is a rich collection of system configuration scripts, a low-level routing engine implementation, page-generation code, database procedures and webpage scripts – all written in commonly used mainstream languages. The codebase has been re-organised recently thanks to help from the previous year’s intern. This codebase primarily consists of over 200 PHP classes, using traditional inheritance/loading techniques, arranged as an MVC structure. Much of the core functionality has been converted to a public API (with over 40 calls in total) that powers the website and third-party apps/sites.

Much of our code is on Github and we are trying to get the main website there too.

Some specific areas we want help on are:

1. Overall website design

There’s an opportunity to update how CycleStreets presents itself to give the service a ‘personality’ – particularly on mobile. Here we’re mainly thinking about the look and feel but also what can be done with it.

2. Usability

Interaction with the journey planner works smoothest on desktop but there’s a lot of scope for improving mobile interactivity. Interaction of the journey planner with the map is one area that needs work, but there a lot of small things that would help such as, for instance prompting users’ frequently used locations when they search.

3. Integrating mobile and desktop

The codebase can serve webpages based on templates, and these are ready to be used by responsive stylesheets that will work on a variety of screen widths. Developments in this area could provide a major benefit to users on mobile.

4. Cycle route quality

Changes to the cycle routing engine are perhaps beyond the scope of a summer intern, unless you are starting from a more advanced base of knowledge. A major challenge is how to know if the suggested cycle route is good – and whether changes to input data or configuration parameters produce a better route or not. Ideas and developments of the testing regime could make a significant difference to route quality.

5. Elevation data

The routing engine takes into account the cost of hill climbing and that depends on accurate elevation data. There’s scope for adding to our library of data provided by countries such as Australia and Finland.

6. Geocoding

Maintaining an up-to-date way of translating text into a location has proven quite a distraction over the years. We’d really like to get on top of this issue and resolve it once and for all. It’s quite a well defined isolated project.

7. Work on our mobile apps

If you have skills in Android or Objective-C/Swift, we would also be willing to consider work on these also. The apps have been created by colleagues rather than the two of us who will be running the internship; accordingly we can’t provide training on the actual programming languages, but things like code structure and UI would be possible to be covered.

About the internship

This is an opportunity to get involved with a live and dynamic project that faces continual resource challenges. The successful candidates will have a choice of which projects to work on based on their own preferences and ideas. We’ll provide supervision and work together to define goals and help solve problems.

As an intern, you will be a proper part of the CycleStreets team, as a fully-paid employee over the summer period, with daily training and co-working.

Read about how our previous intern, Patrick, found the process.

The intern will be hired as an proper salaried employee, and we understand that a going rate in the area for an internship is around £400/week; we will also come to a flexible arrangement regarding working locations and/or expenses for public area working to ensure that the successful employee is never out-of-pocket.

The two/three -month paid internship will be based in Cambridge (UK). This is because we feel it is important that there is daily contact as this is aimed to be a two-way process providing lots of training.

As we work mainly from home, we’ll expect the intern to find their own workspace as we cannot provide an office environment. We’ll meet with you to discuss and plan your work schedule and ideas at internet cafes or meeting rooms in Cambridge, as well as online.

We are not expecting someone with many years of development experience, as such a person would be in a stable job, and the salary level is not intended to reflect this. What is more important to us is someone with the right mindset, a fast learner, who can work at a good rate. Being an internship, this will be a two-way arrangement, with us helping give the student knowledge of working in a large codebase and the challenges this brings – though we do want someone who is a self-starter that doesn’t need prodding constantly.

How to apply

To apply, drop us a line via e-mail by the end of Saturday 17th June 2017, explaining your interests, with your thoughts on our site (such as a critical analysis, maximum 2 pages at most), and point us to any code you have written (public code on Github is always a good sign).

We will contact all applicants by 5pm the Sunday 18th.

Interviews will take place on Monday 19th June and Tuesday 20th June.

 

CycleHack Cambridge 2016

Sunday, April 10th, 2016

CycleHack is a 48-hour event aiming to make cities cycle-friendly through reducing the barriers to cycling and prototyping new ideas to improve the cycling experience and encourage more and safer cycling. More than 40 other cities around the world have signed up to host CycleHack events in their communities over the weekend of 24 to 25 June, 2016.

Cyclehack

Cambridge, home of CycleStreets, will be joining cities around the world for a weekend-long CycleHack event, which will be held at Anglia Ruskin University and other locations where specialist equipment may be required. Participants will be encouraged to test their ideas and prototypes around town during the event.

CycleHack was launched in 2014 in Glasgow and has since grown to a global event. In 2015 CycleHack had more than 600 participants from over 25 countries across five continents. 67% of participants were inspired to cycle more. In 2016 the event is set to be even bigger with more than 40 cities already registered.

Cyclehack CambridgeCycleHack Cambridge is hoping to attract a whole range of people from developers, makers and data scientists to non-technical artists, designers and those who are interested in cycling and have some great ideas. We also want to include representation from all corners of our diverse cycling community and want to see lots of students and young people taking part. This event will bring together the key elements of our Cambridge culture: cycling, innovation and technology.

The event encourages participants to prototype and test their ideas during the weekend to see how they will work in their intended context. Solutions can fall into one of the five CycleHack categories; digital, physical, policy, local plan, event/campaign. Hacks will be loaded to the online open source catalogue to show how the ideas can be replicated. Prizes will be awarded to the best hacks.

CycleStreets is one of the partners organising the event. We’ll be on hand to help out and give advice to people considering doing a digital hack. Perhaps you’ve never used an API (a data interface – like the CycleStreets API for instance) before or don’t know what it is? We can help you get started.

Cambridge Cycling Campaign is the main organiser of the event. Other partners include the Smart Cambridge Programme (Cambridge County Council) and CoDE Research Institute at Anglia Ruskin University.

There are more details on the Facebook event page about the event, and you can register online.

Cambridge recognised in upcoming cycle planning awards

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

The efforts of several local organisations and companies to get more people cycling in the Cambridge, the HQ of CycleStreets, has been recognised in the inaugural Cycle Planning Awards.

The awards ceremony is being held in Walthamstow, London on 14th September.

CycleStreets is a finalist in the ‘Best Innovation’ category for its free-to-use journey planning website. CycleStreets runs the UK-wide cycle journey planning website and provides data feeds for a wide variety of journey planning websites and apps, as well as crowd-sourced data collection and collision data viewing systems. They aim to help encourage new people to cycling, by giving them information on where it is convenient and pleasant to cycle, as well as helping existing cyclists find good routes that improve on their existing journeys or help them through unfamiliar areas.

Simon Nuttall from CycleStreets said:

“We are very pleased indeed to be shortlisted for this award. It validates the work we have put in to build a system that helps find effective cycle routes and to inform the debate about what constitutes practical infrastructure that will encourage more people to consider cycling as a viable option for some of their journeys.”

Outspoken Training based in Cambridge are a finalist in the ‘Best Behaviour Change’ category for their work on a project called Bikeability Plus, which has operated in both Peterborough and in Cambridge. The overall aim of the project was to help build a better cycling culture within five primary schools and to encourage children, parents and teachers to cycle more often. The overall target was to increase those cycling to school at least once per week by 20%. The actual result was a 263% increase with more than 200 more children cycling to school each week.

outspoken-trainingRob King, Director of Outspoken said “To have transformed the cycling culture of a school in such a short period of time is amazing. We were particularly proud of our team of staff who made this happen through a whole host of exciting activities and challenges” One of the teachers commented: “Over the six weeks, all of our reception children learned to balance and then ride a bike. Some reduced their mums to tears having struggled previously.”

Finally, Cambridgeshire County Council’s Mike Davies is a finalist in the ‘Cycling Champion of the Year’ category, for his work on leading innovative cycling projects. He was nominated for the award by Cambridge Cycling Campaign. He shares the final in this category with the Mayor of Leicester, the Deputy Leader of Waltham Forest Council and the Regional Development Minister from the Northern Ireland Assembly. Mike said “I’m delighted to be a finalist in this award category. The work of many people including Council officers, Councillors, campaign groups, local businesses, cycle shops, schools and colleges, has all contributed to the success of cycling in and around Cambridge, and this is vital to ease traffic congestion and improve people’s health, independence, and ability to access employment and training in a growing city area”.

Welcoming our new intern, Patrick

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

Please join us in welcoming our new intern, Patrick, who is working over the summer as a paid employee on the CycleStreets code. He’ll be working to add new API calls, add new features, refactor older code so that we can move the codebase forward, templatise sections so we can redesign them, and more.

Patrick, intern at CycleStreets, cycling through Parker's Piece

Patrick, intern at CycleStreets, cycling through Parker’s Piece

Patrick, tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a post-grad student at Cambridge University, studying Education and Choral Studies.

What are some of the programming projects you’ve worked on before?

I had a great time in Germany connecting a massive pipe organ to a MIDI enabled interface, and playing that huge instrument from my computer. More recently, I programmed a music generator in PHP which creates random pop music.

What interested you in getting involved in CycleStreets?

I’ve always gotten around by bike in Cambridge and Düsseldorf, and I used the CycleStreets app quite a bit before seeing the blog post advertising the summer intern position.

What are you most keen to improve in our system over the summer?

Adding API calls is quite satisfying work, because it’s very exciting to see how developers implement these calls in their apps.

What have you been working on in your first week, and how is it going?

I’ve been focusing on splitting some functions into page, model and api classes, which facilitates templating the layout of the site and cleans up some messy code. I’ve also added some new functionality to Galleries.

Patrick will be posting over the summer on the fruits of his labour.

Summer intern sought to help develop our codebase

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

CycleStreets is seeking a Cambridge (UK) -based intern over the summer, to help us improve our codebase quality.

Over many years we have built up a very large codebase, which runs our Journey planner and Photomap. There are also other sections, such as a collision data viewer, points of interest pages, a (somewhat out-of-date) help/about section, geocoder, user profile system, information pages, etc. This codebase primarily consists of over 225 PHP classes, averaging about 500 lines of code each. Interactive elements of the site are underpinned by a stable API.

We are in the middle of a major redesign (hence our quietness on this blog lately!) to solve various usability issues, modernise the look and feel of the site, add new facilities such as drag-routing/waypoints, and fundamentally unify the many sections of the site into a coherent whole. We have a powerful API under the hood, but we feel this is not reflected positively in our user interface.

We are sometimes slowed down in development by older code, pointing to the need for refactoring in several key areas. For instance, we want to complete our migration to a fully-templatised MVC structure. We want to deprecate our current mobile website by making the new design responsive while retaining the mobile site’s current innovations. We want to replace direct database calls with new API-based calls, so that the site effectively becomes a fairly independent consumer of its own API.

The two-month paid internship will be based in Cambridge (UK). We consider that regularly in-person discussions are likely so that the code can be understood properly before commencing with refactoring.

The intern will be hired as an proper salaried employee, and we understand that a going rate in the area for an internship is around £380/week; we will also come to a flexible arrangement regarding working locations and/or expenses for public area working to ensure that the successful employee is never out-of-pocket.

The position would be suitable for someone with:

  • A passion for refactoring, continual code quality improvement, and with an eye for detail;
  • Experience of writing good-quality object-orientated PHP code, based on traditional class structures, which runs without any notices/warnings;
  • Interest in user interface design, particularly with reference to mobile interfaces;
  • Some javascript knowledge would be helpful, as this needs some improvement, but this is lower priority than solid object-PHP skills;
  • A desire to promote practical cycling and support the cycle advocacy movement – we want someone who believes in what we’re doing, rather than just seeing this as a general coding job.

We are not expecting someone with many years of development experience, as such a person would be in a stable job, and the salary level is not intended to reflect this. What is more important to us is someone with the right mindset, a fast learner, who can work at a good rate. Being an internship, this will be a two-way arrangement, with us helping give the student knowledge of working in a large codebase and the challenges this brings – though we do want someone who is a self-starter that doesn’t need prodding constantly.

To apply, drop us a line via e-mail by the end of Wednesday 17th June 2015, explaining your interests, with your thoughts on our site (such as a critical analysis, maximum 2 pages at most), and point us to any code you have written (public code on Github is always a good sign).

(Edit on 6th June: We’ve extended the deadline slightly; previously 15th.)

Photo from a developer day, 2012

Planning application integration now live on Cyclescape

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

We’re very excited to announce a major new feature on Cyclescape, our online toolkit for cycle campaign groups: integration of planning applications, which we pushed live last week after much work over the last 18 months.

Cambridge Cycling Campaign is the group we’ve been testing this with and where the work has mainly been undertaken.

The feature means that group members will be able to know about a new planning application within a day of it being submitted to the council. This gives potentially an extra 6 weeks of time to study a planning application, so that the group can see:

  • how it could affect cycling conditions in an area
  • whether measures are needed (Section 106 / CIL funding) to mitigate any problems
  • whether cycle parking is sufficient
  • whether it could create opportunities such as a new route

This is 6 weeks of extra time to talk to the developers, and the Council, rather than deal with everything last minute – e.g. just before it goes to Planning Committee, as has happened in the past!

List of planning applications, from the ‘My Cyclescape’ page:

Planning applications

Click on ‘Convert to an issue’, and this pre-fills the usual issue form:

Cloned planning application

As there is no way for us to determine automatically (yet) whether a planning application is relevant – and there is a lot of irrelevant stuff like tree works – we have provided a button to enable an application to be hidden. If enough users in the group vote to hide the application, it will be hidden for all. In this way, group users can crowdsource relevant applications, and make it faster for others to work through to find relevant things.

Al this has been possible thanks to work by our contact Andrew who is working on a new planning application data portal, PlanIt (building on an earlier system by Openly Local), which we in CycleStreets are hoping to collaborate on and support formally.

Not all areas of the country are yet covered – Cambridge, featured above, has been specially funded. We’d like to thank Cambridge Sustainable City for their grant support.

Get in touch with us if you are interested to have coverage in your area in future.

We’d like to thank our developers Andy Allan and Nikolai Berkoff, as well as Andrew Speakman whose work has made this possible.

Cambridgeshire Cycle Challenge

Friday, September 19th, 2014

This year the Cambridgeshire Cycle Challenge is running from Monday 15th September to Sunday 12th October and is a fun and FREE web based competition to see which businesses can get the most people cycling over the four week period. There’s still time to sign up!

The Challenge is open to all businesses in Cambridgeshire and aims to increase the uptake of cycling by encouraging more new people to cycle to work and spur on people who already cycle to do so more often. Following on from Le Tour de France’s exciting visit to Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire in July, the Challenge is a great way to continue the cycling spirit. Any member of staff can take part by initially registering on the challenge website.

Challenge partners

Cambridgeshire Cycle Challenge

Once registered participants record every journey they make (both to work and for leisure) during the four week period, on the website via computer, or on a tablet/smartphone. For tablet and smartphone users a PleaseCycle mobile app is available for free to download and includes GPS functionality so that journeys can be tracked as the user cycles and are automatically logged to their account.

There are lots of prizes for different categories of riders (e.g. novice, rusty rider, intermediate and advanced), awarded weekly as well as overall winners – so regular cyclists will not ride off with all the prizes! In addition prizes will be evenly distributed around the districts of Cambridge City, East Cambridgeshire, Fenland, Huntingdonshire and South Cambridgeshire.

CycleStreets is one of the partners, with our journey planner available within the website:

Cambridgeshire cycle challenge journey planner

The website also includes facilities to enable employer office locations, departments and teams to compete against one another as well as other employers. This is a great way to encourage friendly rivalry and at the same time promote cycling.

The Challenge is being run by our friends at PleaseCycle and Outspoken on behalf of Travel for Cambridgeshire (formerly the Travel for Work Partnership) and Cambridgeshire County Council.

Quietly working away…

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

This blog has been a bit quiet recently, as we’ve been quietly working away very hard on a range of projects which are now being launched. We’ll have blog posts on each of these in the coming weeks:

  • The new Halfords cycle journey planner is live on their website, complementing their wide range of bikes and advice to help people get cycling. It includes map markers for easy directions to their stores.
  • We’ve created the Cycle Hackney app (iPhone and Android) for Hackney Council, which aims to provide information to the Council on where people cycle for their daily journeys, and where improvements to the street and path network are most needed. This combines crowsourced GPS traces to help create a heatmap of utility cycle journeys. The app was launched at the Hackney Cycling Conference 2014.
  • We created the Urban Cycle Parking website for London Cycling Campaign, which enables cyclists in London to pinpoint where cycle parking is needed and where it already exists, with all data being fed to Transport for London (plus existing parking data to OpenStreetMap)
  • We’ve created a batch routing system (with a job control web interface) for one of our app routing data users, which creates a matrix of all possible routes between cycle hire stations (e.g. the London Cycle Hire scheme) or within a grid of squares within a city.
  • We’ve supported the CTC’s Space for Cycling portal, whose photos also go into our Photomap, helping build on the fantastic library of over 50,000 locations (all fully-categorised) already present.
  • We’re finalising the launch of our API (data interface) Version 2 – this is a modern JSON-only API interface to the many parts of our system, and corrects many of the frustrations of our current API. As well as making things much easier for mobile and other websites to obtain routes and integrate with other facilities we offer, it adds new API calls, GeoJSON output for all geographical features by default, new  features, standardised error handling, and a fresh set of documentation complete with clear examples.
  • We’ve almost completed replacing all the code that powers our slippy maps from OpenLayers-based to Leaflet. Changes like that happen ‘inside the crankcase’ and give us more power and flexibility to develop the system while users are often unaware that there have been changes – which is generally a good thing. This will enable us finally to add long-demanded features such as multiple waypoints, draggable routing and leisure routing options, which our underlying data interface (API) has supported now for quite some time. This has been a large task, with much knock-on internal reworking, including the need to have GeoJSON output in the API while not disrupting other users of our API. This work is part of a project to overhaul and modernise our web interface, which has been partly funded thanks to a Cambridge Cycling & Walking Promotion grant. We’d like to thank Cambridge City Council for enabling this long-awaited project to move forward. We’ll shortly be seeking out a designer and blogging more about our aims with this large project.
  • We’ve added a user profile available to each user on the site, so all photos by a user are grouped together. This facility will continue to evolve.
  • Cyclescape, our toolkit for cycle campaigners [read more], has seen a range of improvements and fixes.
  • For Cambridge Cyclescape, we’re pleased to announce a grant from Cambridge Sustainable City who have kindly given a grant to fund some changes specifically requested by the Cambridge group – we’ll report on the Cyclescape blog soon about these developments.

Stay tuned to the blog for articles on each of these.

PS One of our lead developers, Martin, has co-written ‘Making Space for Cycling‘, a new publication endorsed by the whole spectrum of UK cycling advocacy groups. It explains to UK decision-makers how best to provide cycle infrastructure that will get more people cycling. Paper copies can be obtained from Cyclenation and Cambridge Cycling Campaign.

State Of The Map 2013 – Cyclestreets presentation

Saturday, September 7th, 2013

Martin giving our presentation - Photo by Alexander Kachkaev

State Of The Map is the annual conference of OpenStreetMap (OSM), whose fantastic data we make use of to provide cycle routing.

We gave two presentations at State Of The Map 2013 which this year was held in Birmingham.

It’s the annual gathering of people who collect street data as well as those who, like us, make use of it.

We gave two presentations, one on the range of websites and apps that use our cycle routing. The other was on a project within the OSM community that we’ve been running to encourage OSM members to merge in cycle route information from the Department for Transport.

You can view our two presentations here:

CycleStreets – more than a router (State Of The Map 2013):

England Cycling Data Project:

Season’s greetings to all our users

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012

Seasons greetings to all our users. Happy cycling!

Many thanks to everyone who has helped with coding and other ways with CycleStreets this year, or sent in a donation.

Lots of plans for 2013 :)

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

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