The Bicycle Data website that was developed by the student team of the University of Oldenburg (Department of Business Informatics VLBA) as part of the BITS initiative delivers a huge amount of processed cycling data to the CyclingDataHub and all interested stakeholders. The development of the website included a lot of specific working steps as the implementation of a data storage system or the development of an Application Programming Interface (API) to connect the data base with the website and to make cycling data available to the general public. To share the most important learnings during these working steps in the creation process with the scientific community, a new article entitled The BITS Project – Making cycling data available and comparable on a European scale was published in the most recent volume of the Transportation Research Procedia which is an open access product focusing entirely on publishing full sets of conference proceedings.
Besides a general overview about the BITS project and its implementations in the whole North Sea Region, an overview about the components of the Bicycle Data website to make cities comparable in terms of bicycle use or cycling satety is given. The article and its most important results were presented to the scientific audience at the Living and Walking in Cities Conference (LWC2021). The full text of the article which is part of the special issue “New scenarios for safe mobility in urban areas – Proceedings of the XXV International Conference Living and Walking in Cities (LWC 2021), September 9-10, 2021, Brescia, Italy” is available as Open Source and can be downloaded here.
The BITS project has already worked on data driven cycling solutions for more than 2,5 years. A lot of data and analysis results were provided by the Bicycle Data team to the BITS circle. In this context it is time for evaluating the effect and the contribution of the Bicycle Data website to the further uptake of cycling in the North Sea Region. For a first evaluation of the Bicycle Data project, the research team of the VIVES University of Applied Sciences from Kortrijk/Belgium that is mainly working on the Evaluation of the BITS project and relating recommendations for stakeholders organized an online meeting with the Bicycle Data project at the 1st of December 2021.
Griet Vanwynsberghe and Julie Tieberghien (VIVES) learned more about challenges regarding the development of the Bicycle Data database and the website. As Johannes Schering, Jana Klemp and Jan Stüven of the Bicycle Data team stated, a huge topic is the harmonization process and the (partially missing) comparability of the bicycle data sets that were used so far. The BITS project will end at the end of 2022, but the discussion about standardization of bicycle data sets has to be intensified among the European stakeholders in the forthcoming years. Suitable definitions (e.g. what a near accident is or how to count the bicycle traffic amount) also need to be clarified. Another issue is the management of privacy relevant data in terms of GDPR. Different perspectives and approaches in NSR countries need to be considered. There is a lot of work to do in the forthcoming years what makes clear the necessity of follow-up European project in the cycling data domain.
A lot of Bicycle Data data sets were recently connected to the CyclingDataHub (CDH) what gives the project of the University of Oldenburg a huge impact on the European scale. Bicycle Data is the first website that systematically makes available cycling Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These numbers improve the comparability of different cities and countries in terms of traffic safety or cycling amount. A very positive aspect is also the stakeholder orientation as the KPIs were presented and evaluated with many different stakeholders in the cycling domain (for instance as part of the BITS Academy on Cycling Data that was organized by Cycling Industries in Europe in April 2021).
The BITS project is building up a huge database on European bicycle data sets. In these days the CyclingDataHub (CDH) which connects all the data sources from different countries as a core component received an update. Nearly 200 of the 258 data links to external data sources that are available on the open data platform so far were contributed by the Bicycle Data website. The links were connected to the CDH by the Generate Link function of the open data portal (Open Bicycle’s Data).
What is also new in the update of the CDH are the geographical layers that allow the user to differentiate not only between different countries but also between regions. As you can see on the Screenshot there are data sets from German regions as Lower Saxony, Hessen, North Rhine Westphalia, Hamburg, Berlin, Baden Wuerttemberg or Bayern (Bicycle Counting), Dutch regions as Utrecht or Zwolle (Sniffer Bike), Flemish regions as Antwerp (Near Accidents) or from the United Kingdom (Bicycle Counting in East Riding) available. Bicycle Data and the VLBA Department would like to thank all these external data providers in- and outside of the BITS circle and of course the Province of Antwerp for connecting our Bicycle Data data sets to the European platform CDH. This makes our project a big success!
The Business Informatics Department VLBA presented latest findings in the Bicycle Data context from the projects SmartHelm, which is funded for 3 years by the mFUND program, and the European project BITS (Bicycles and Intelligent Transport Systems) at the Cycling Research Board Annual Meeting (CRBAM 2021) in the Danish capital of Copenhagen. The conference, which already took place for the fifth time, discussed the latest trends in digitization and planning in the cycling domain between the 13th and 15th October 2021. The two cycling data-based projects of the Department were presented and discussed in detail in the session “Data Collection Methods” which was moderated by Jones Karlström (VTI) and Hjalmar Christiansen (TU Denmark).
In his talk “SmartHelm: Data driven study and analysis on bicycle-based logistics in delivery processing” Harish Moturu presented in detail the current studies as well as the related data collection and challenges with the helmet prototype from UVEX. The project is developing an intelligent bicycle helmet that is intended to measure distractions based on EEG and EyeTracking and to support bicycle couriers in their daily working process. The conduction of the studies by project partner University of Bremen (Cognitive Systems Lab) and the related work with the attention-related data were presented in detail. As part of the project, the VLBA implemented a data management system for handling the biophysiological helmet data and other relevant data from logistics or the bicycle sector. In order to be able to gain knowledge about distractions in real traffic, the project is planning further studies in real traffic situations, which could lead to additional interesting work and results in the data science field. Harish Moturu also referred to the mFUND funding program of the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) that has funded more than 300 digital innovation projects with more than 200 million Euro since 2016. The SmartHelm project has been funded by mFUND with around 1.5 million Euro since November 2019.
In the second VLBA talk entitled “BITS: Open Bicycle Data and what we can learn by it for the improvement of the bicycle infrastructure“, project team member Johannes Schering presented the data collection methods in the European bicycle project BITS, which is funded by the Interreg B program until the end of 2022. A wide variety of sensor systems, such as bicycle counting stations, apps, sensors, cameras for detecting critical situations or bicycle parking are implemented and evaluated throughout the whole North Sea region. The collected data was standardized, preprocessed and published on www.bicycle-data.de as part of the Bicycle Data student project group. In particular, the website’s key performance indicators (KPIs) on European cycling data enable a significantly improved comparability of different cities and applications. At the same time the new cycling KPIs give new insights in bicycle use or the traffic safety situation. The improved data availability also enables a faster expansion of bicycle traffic and the infrastructure. Johannes also discussed the applicability of the published data to the real bicycle infrastructure based on the example of an intersection in Puurs / Belgium (Province of Antwerp). The markings on the road were improved according to the results of the measurement. The detection of the near accidents were repeated in September to enable an evaluation whether the traffic situation has improved in the past two years.
Both projects were presented at a live conference for the first time in more than 1.5 years since the beginning of the Covid crisis. The extensive discussion as part of the session resulted in an exciting exchange with other European SmartCycling initiatives. Johannes Schering emphasized that the developed Bicycle Data website will be further used beyond the end of the BITS project. The long-term availability of the data sets and the KPIs will also be ensured by providing the results of SmartHelm that are going to be published and visualized at the website in the nearer future. The exchange with Heike Bunte (Free Hanseatic City of Hamburg) from the Interreg project LUCIA (Lightning in the Baltic Region) provided interesting input for the data analysis work in the SmartHelm project. As part of the upcoming work, the VLBA could consider the influence of lighting conditions on the distractions that are detected by the helmet.
In his contribution to Cycling Research Board conference, Johannes Schering discussed the possible applications of European Bicycle Data on the real cycling infrastructure.
In this year the CRBAM was organized for the first time by the TU Denmark in Copenhagen. The overarching topic of the conference was the role of the bicycle in supporting the transformation towards a sustainable mobility system that brings together health-promoting aspects with design and functionality. The conference pursued an interdisciplinary approach: The sessions were based on the core topics of cycling safety (including cost-benefit analysis, mental health, motivation studies), behavior (e.g. from sociology, anthropology, psychology, history), data (evaluation of cycling data to facilitate planning, supporting research and quality assessment), cycling demand (including potential analysis and traffic modeling), regional planning (including studies on planning tools and strategies, effect studies). Overall, the international conference was a very good opportunity to exchange ideas with cycling experts from different sections and perspectives as professors, researchers, industrialists, urban traffic or mobility planners etc. On the first day, the contributions from various Scandinavian countries emphasized the importance of cycling research regarding a better infrastructure planning in cities, improving the quality of cycle paths, the role of policy making and the role of cycling in sustainable mobility. The second half of the first day continued with five guided bike tours to the most important cycling spots in Copenhagen, one of the most bike friendly cities in the world. The organizers used the opportunity of the bike tours to convey to the conference participants the importance of cycling in the city of Copenhagen and the infrastructure planning activities carried out in different locations. The second and third day continued with different sessions (including data collection methods) that focused on various research topics in the cycling domain. A topic that was discussed in many contributions, especially in the fields of cycling safety and data, is the Hövding airbag from Sweden which protects cyclists as an alternative to helmets in the case of an accident. The airbag is extremely popular in Scandinavia and is clearly visible in the bicycle traffic situation in Copenhagen. There is an interesting overlap with the SmartHelm approach as the data from the airbag can also be used to improve bicycle infrastructures in cities.
The Cycling Research Board conference will take place next year in Amsterdam (Netherlands) and for the first time in Germany (Wuppertal) in 2023. The exchange with other researchers in the field of SmartCycling provides important input to the VLBA cycling projects. The feedback will be incorporated into the further working steps in SmartHelm and BITS. The Business Informatics Department of the University of Oldenburg would like to thank the organizers for the excellent live event and the opportunity to exchange ideas with the European partners, which was not possible over such a long period of time.
Already the 8th Steering Group Meeting as part of the European project BITS (Bicycles and Intelligent Transport Systems) took place at the 6th and 7th of October 2021. The online meeting with stakeholders from the Netherlands, Belgium, the UK, Denmark and Germany gave an overview about recently started and already planned ITS implementations for cycling and cycling data collection in the North Sea Region.
Implementations The Province of Antwerp and the University of Oldenburg presented new ideas and efforts in the field of cycling data. As the first phase of BITS is ending at the end of 2022, the future of BITS was also discussed as part of the meeting. The implementing partners presented new results in the testing and the evaluation of their ITS cycling solutions. For example, the Province of Antwerp repeated the measuring of near accidents (or interventions) at a critical intersection in Puurs. The goal is to learn whether the traffic safety situation has increased since the first measurement two years ago as in the meantime new markings on the road were realized. East Riding has started to supply bike sensors by provider See.Sense to citizens in the Withernsea to detect bicycle trips and surface qualities in Withernsea, and at the same time stimulate people to cycle. The city of Zwolle established a new smart lightning system and is preparing a new round of Sniffer Bike data collection to measure air qualities. The city of Oldenburg presented its plans for a new bike sharing system that is going to start service in 2022. The university of applied sciences VIVES is collecting data (countings, tracking data, questionnaires, interviews) to evaluate all the ITS implementations with respect to impact on cycling and CO2 emission reduction.
Data initiatives The discussion about open bicycle data was part of the second day of the SG meeting. The visualization component of the CyclingDataHub is receiving an update at this moment. The University of Oldenburg, Department of Business Informatics VLBA, presented the progress of their Bicycle Data website that was recently awarded with a national prize for student projects in Germany. The KPIs of European cycling data were extended and new results about the bicycle application from Oldenburg (Baron) and the Sniffer Bike project are now online. The BITS project was presented in several academic conferences as the Living and Walking in Cities 2021 conference which was hosted by the University of Brescia, Italy. Johannes Schering of the VLBA department presented a new smart cycling project INFRASense that is starting soon in Oldenburg and that will be funded for three years by the mFUND program of the German Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) with around 1.2 Mio. Euro. The objective is to work on a holistic data driven quality assessment of the bike infrastructure based on citizen science and planning data – a topic that fits quite well in the BITS context.
Future of BITS The future of BITS was discussed as the final step of the two days online meeting. New ideas for a follow-up project were collected at a Miro board as part of an interactive session were all partners had the opportunity to contribute. The idea is to submit a follow-up BITS project in the new Interreg NSR programme (2021-2027), but also to expand BITS beyond the borders of the North Sea Region with new implementations and partners to make this smart cycling initiative even more visible all across Europe.
The next Steering Group Meeting of the BITS project is planned for March 2022 and can hopefully be conducted as a live event in Oldenburg.
The Bicycle Data student project of the VLBA Department of the University of Oldenburg was a big success – also regarding its contribution to the promotion of cycling and the relating solution of environmental problems in European cities. This is also reflected by the ranking of the Environmental Informatics Prize 2021 for students: In competition with other data driven student projects from Germany, Bicycle Data has won the 3rd prize. The master student team is rewarded with 400€ for its great performance during the period of two semesters in 2020/2021. Professor Hans Knud Arndt of the Otto von Guericke University, Magdeburg, highlighted the importance of the winning projects for the further promotion of sustainability as part of the digital award presentation ceremony. The Environmental Informatics Prize 2021 is awarded for students’ works in the field of environmental informatics as part of the Enviroinfo 2021 conference (https://informatik2021.gi.de/enviroinfo-2021). Such work takes the form of projects undertaken either as part of a course or for a degree (excluding PhD) at an academic University or a University of Applied Sciences. The projects demonstrates the contribution of methods and technologies of informatics to the solution of environmental problems or dissemination of information supporting sustainable development in general. The jury consists of the heads of the International Technical Committee “Informatics for Environmental Protection, Sustainable Development and Risk Management” of the German Informatics Society (GI, http://www.gi.de/). Sponsors of the year 2021 are Adesso SE, Dortmund, Germany (www.adesso.de), ecco ecology + communication Unternehmensberatung GmbH, Oldenburg, Germany (www.ecco.de), worldiety GmbH, Oldenburg, Germany (https://www.worldiety.de), einfach.effizient. Treuhand Unternehmensberatung GmbH & Co. KG, Oldenburg, Germany (https://www.treuhand.de) and OFFIS e.V., Oldenburg, Germany (https://www.offis.de). The VLBA department and the BITS project send their best congratulations to the Bicycle Data project team that has done a really good job.
Bicycle Data is not only a research project by a University, but it also involves experts from leading European cycling cities to collect feedback and to deliver useful results to the practical work of these stakeholders. Especially Denmark is famous for cycling: The city of Aarhus, the second largest city of the scandinavian country, is engaging to make bicycle use more convenient. Michael Bloksgaard, coordinator for Intelligent Transport Systems, gave Bicycle Data interesting insights in his daily work and the specific usecase of the city. To improve traffic flow, specific radar systems were implemented to prioritize cyclists at the traffic lights at two inner city intersections. Cyclists do not have to stop at the intersection when they approaching the intersection with a sufficient speed level what makes bicycle use much more convenient. Bicycle Data discussed with Michael Bloksgaard about the relating data of the traffic signals. The project is looking forward to work with the data sets from Denmark and to provide new KPIs on that on the website.
The actually running BITS project (Bicycles and Intelligent Transport Systems) was recently presented at the Living and Walking in Cities LWC Conference. In his talk research associate Johannes Schering of the VLBA department emphasized the importance of bicycle data for the further uptake of cycling in European cities. In the presentation of his research paper “The BITS Project – Making cycling data available and comparable on a European scale” Johannes presented new cycling Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to make different cites comparable which were developed as part of the website Bicycle Data by the Bicycle Data student team. The hybrid event was hosted by the University of Brescia in Italy.
As part of the discussion in the interdisciplinary and international panel it became clear that the harmonization process of European cycling data is a huge challenge. There is no standardization regarding data structures or how to collect data what makes different regions hardly comparable. The research paper was presented as part of the session “Big Data, ITS, and MaaS” which was moderated by Benedetto Barabino from the host, the University of Brescia.
The LWC International Conference which was organized as a hybrid event as consequence of the pandemic traditionally deals with the topics of urban mobility and quality of life in urban areas, with a specific focus on vulnerable road users as pedestrians and cyclists. The LWC Conference allows researchers, experts, administrators, and practitioners to gather and discuss about policy issues, best practices, and research findings from different perspectives. In total, more than 220 authors from 21 countries contributed to the LWC conference. We are expressing our thanks to the organizers to present the BITS project and our research results.
Further information about the Living and Walking in Cities Conference can be found here: https://lwc.unibs.it/