M2M and Big Data Encourage Biking

5/13/2013

In the Northwest region of the country, biking to work is a common occurrence. Many of these cities are encouraging and even promoting the use of bike riding. Now, in addition to general initiative programs, cities are also turning to M2M and Big Data to provide citizens with information about percentage of bikers traveling the streets.

In April, the SFMTA (San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency), www.sfmta.com, announced the installment of the city’s first bicycle barometer on the south sidewalk of Market Street between 9th and 10th streets. The objective is to promote bike riding as an everyday means of transport in the city of San Francisco.

A bicycle barometer—which was first introduced in the city of Odense, Denmark—is a digital display of the number of people on bicycle in the bike line. That data gathered can summarize the volumes of riders for the day and the annual total. In addition to encouraging bike usage, the data captured also provides metrics on overall bicycle usage for the city.


San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s, www.sfbike.org, Executive Director Leah Shahum says this presents an opportunity to track further growth in biking, particularly as improvements on Market Street continue to boost access to jobs and a stronger economic vibrancy in San Francisco.

The city of San Francisco isn’t alone either. Both Portland and Seattle have also implemented bike counters in various locations throughout the cities.

In Seattle, for example, the bicycle counter situated on the Fremont Bridge provides data related to patterns of cycling in the city, and allows Seattle to create accurate benchmarking goals for increased bike riding. This counter uploads data once a day in the morning, which is then displayed in daily, weekly, monthly, and annual running totals.

Portland also implemented a counter as part of its Portland Bicycle Plan for 2030, which calls for more than a quarter of all trips to be made by bicycling by 2030. Regular bicycle counts are conducted at various locations throughout the city, with key areas being the four main bridges including Broadway, Steel, Burnside, and Hawthorne. The city says bicycle use on these four bridges has grown 322% since 1991, while automotive trips have not increased at all.

The use of bicycle counters in cities provides realtime data to cyclists to promote and encourage participation. The information also gives cities metrics to set realistic goals for the future.

This year’s M2M App Challenge and Connected World Conference, being held June 7-9 and June 10-13, respectively, take place in Silicon Valley, where M2M and Big Data are at the center of many initiatives such as tracking the number of people on bicycles in the bike lane.

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