CycleTracks FAQs

What is the CycleTracks application?

In order to collect data on why and where cyclists ride, we developed the CycleTracks for iPhone and Android application. CycleTracks uses the your smartphone's GPS function to track bicycle trip routes. Users specify a purpose for each trip (commuting, shopping, exercise, etc.) and tell the app when to start and stop recording the ride. At the end, data representing the purpose, route, date and time are confidentially sent to the Transportation Authority's servers (all identifiable data will be kept confidential). Users can cancel a trip at any time for any reason and no data will be sent.

Why are you doing this?

We have been awarded a Caltrans State Planning and Research Grant to enhance the bicycle route choice component of SF-CHAMP, the official travel forecasting tool for transportation planning in San Francisco. It is a state-of-the-art computer model that predicts future travel patterns within the Bay Area.

The goal is to better understand where cyclists ride in San Francisco and the Bay Area, the factors that influence route choices (slope, presence of bike lanes, purpose of trip, etc.) and how transportation infrastructure and land developments might affect cyclists choosing to ride on particular streets.

How long should I keep using CycleTracks?

We hope you'll use CycleTracks right away and get us as much data as possible before the rainy season really kicks in. So, all through November and December we're hoping you'll keep on using it.  The servers are running all through the winter and spring, and we will continue to update the app to make it easier and faster to use, so there's no reason to stop using it.  The more data we receive, the more we can do for Bay Area cyclists!

Why are my trip purpose and personal info important to the SF Transportation Authority?

This is a new, one-of-a-kind dataset that's never been collected before. Our research has shown that different types of people use different routes, and that biking for exercise is really different from biking for groceries or commuting. Those little extra bits of information go a long way toward helping us understand how people cycle in San Francisco.  You don't *have* to enter any personal info, but we hope you will since it just takes a few seconds and will never be personally identifiable.

What about my email address?  I don't want any spam.

Once the $50 iTunes Gift Card raffles are completed, we'll erase all email addresses from the route database, which means the data will be completely anonymous. We'll keep the email addresses for project updates, but will never give your email out to anyone. If you choose not to give us your email address, that's fine but we can't enter you into the Gift Card raffle. And please fill out the other personal info—that info can't be matched back to you personally, and it will really help us analyze the data.

What about other privacy issues?

Data representing the purpose, route, date and time are sent confidentially to the Transportation Authority's servers. We will know your iPhone's Unique Device Identifier (UDID) or your Android's Device ID in order to group trip data by users. Users can cancel a trip at any time for any reason and no data will be sent. No other identifying information is collected except with your opt-in permission. You choose to participate by filling out the fields in the Personal Info section of the app. It involves a few basic questions useful to our study, but they're optional and confidential, and only needs to be done once. If you wish to give us your email address (which will not be shared with any third parties), we can keep you updated on the progress of the study.


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