A US city is using Strava data to build a case for better bike lanes in the most popular areas, and boosting cyclist numbers along the way.
Portland, Oregon, is combining the fitness tracker’s data with other sources to flesh out a real time picture of what cyclists and pedestrians are up to on the streets.
"Few data approaches have given this amount of visibility to what’s going on in a city or area," Strava co-founder Michael Horvath told Curbed. "We have data going back three or four years, so we give planners a lot of information about what’s happened over a range of time."
The company has now developed Strava Metro, which makes use of users’ movement data for the benefit of city planners.
It’s now in use in over 85 cities across the globe to aid urban planning.
In Seattle, the city cites Strava as being part of a revolution that got an additional 14,000 cyclists onto better managed cycle lanes.
Strava is also working on being able to model cyclist and pedestrian flow, so that new infrastructure can be tested before being built.
"[Planners] have questions of equity and fairness," said Horvath. "Are all the major areas of the city coverable by bike? What happens if we put a bike lane in? Our data can be used to answer those questions.”
The company says that the seven million uploaded workouts they receive every week are helping make the data ever more reliable.
"If someone said, ‘I’m going to create a crowdsourced bike and pedestrian planning tool,’ it would be so hard to get this quantity of data," Horvath said. "But by building this social network that people around world love, we have the opportunity to deliver this [planning data] as well."
After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.