29 Jul 2021

Bryden Wood: A data-powered collaboration to encourage the adoption of active travel - by making cycling even better

A cyclist swerves. Why? A city planner starts to plot a new cycle route. Where? The majority of cyclists choose to turn left rather than go straight on. What for? A local authority wants to encourage the adoption of active travel and get more people to ride bikes. How? 

There are so many variables to cycling and cycling infrastructure – cycle path design, cycle facility design, road layouts, road users, cyclist behaviours, road conditions, other uses for space, other cyclists, political pressures, public opinion… The answer to making cycling better and to get more people on bikes lies in bringing all these variables together, and finding a (cycle) path through them. 

Tech-powered design company Bryden Wood and cycling technologists and data-gatherers See.Sense are collaborating on a platform that will allow urban authorities to do just that. 

Bryden Wood (www.brydenwood.co.uk) have developed a digital toolkit, called SPACED, that can quickly generate different proposals for new and expanded cycle infrastructure across urban areas. It uses sophisticated algorithmic approaches combined with widely available geospatial data to identify streets which have enough space to add new cycle lanes or have existing lanes that can be adjusted. It allows planners to connect districts through a continuous cycling network, or green areas for leisure, or key areas of a neighbourhood. The tool suggests evaluated options which can be explored in different ways including a 3D geospatial web app and interactive dashboard. 

See.Sense (www.seesense.cc) produce a range of cycling products, including intelligent bike lights and theft tracking devices, all of which make use of patented sensor technology and advanced connectivity solutions. They generate near-real-time sensor data insights into the experience of the rider, and connect cycling into the fabric of a city's mobility system. See.sense generate a comprehensive, anonymised data set that helps city planners understand the experience of the cyclist. Insights include popular routes, speed, dwell time, origin and destination, collisions, swerving, heavy braking and road surface conditions.   

By combining our efforts, we are creating a platform that can receive, interpret, analyse and optimise data that will make the business of planning urban cycling infrastructure a whole world easier.  

As anyone who rides a bicycle knows, the choices you make and the experiences you have are not always based in pure logic. Cycling is a human experience that brings together the practical (I need to get to work by bike, quickly, but the most direct cycle lane is always blocked by buses) and the personal (I’m afraid of that crazy junction, and I prefer riding through green spaces where I can). 

We are bringing together the technical and the personal in a comprehensively data-driven, evidence-based package.  

What we are not going to do is tell planners what decisions they should make. The aim of our platform is to demonstrate a range of possible outcomes that planners can then interrogate and decide on according to their priorities, be that cost, bike usage, journey times, safety, or reducing congestion and pollution. 

The potential of this collaboration is enormous. Because of the ways in which we source the data we use, there is no city in the world that could not make use of this platform. And, better still, it involves and engages directly with the citizens who will use it – those cyclists, present and future, who have a vested interest in improving cycling infrastructure wherever they live and ride. 

The adoption of active travel post-pandemic is a key objective for government, local and national. This platform can play a key part in that, as we help cycling go even further, better and smarter. 


This article was written by Phil Langley, Architect computational designer, Bryden Wood. 

hil Langley is an architect and computational designer, based in London. Phil leads the ‘Creative Technologies' team at Bryden Wood, who are leaders in Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA); the Creative Technologies team are specialists in design automation. They combine DfMA approaches and cutting-edge algorithmic methods to build digital technology that accelerates the delivery of social and economic infrastructure. Learn more about this author.

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