New (5/13/13): Download our updated iOS version of CycleTracks from the iTunes App Store. The updated app responds to numerous user requests including background GPS and other goodies that didn't exist in 2009 when we first developed it. Apologies for not getting around to updating it before now!
BACKGROUND: UNDERSTANDING THE NEEDS OF CYCLISTS
CycleTracks uses smartphone GPS support to record users' bicycle trip routes and times, and display maps of their rides, in order to help transportation planners make informed decisions about bicycle use in the community. At the end of each trip, data representing the trip purpose, route, and the date and time are sent to the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) for analysis. All personally identifiable data are kept confidential.* The Authority—or another agency using CycleTracks-uses the data to create models that better predict where cyclists will ride and how land developments and transportation infrastructure will affect cycling in the community. The SFCTA developed CycleTracks to help understand the needs of cyclists, in order to more effectively prioritize cycling infrastructure investments.
The CycleTracks App was developed to collect data in the San Francisco area for models that would predict what types of routes cyclists were likely to use, based on rider characteristics (e.g., level of experience) and characteristics of the bike network (hills, bike lanes, and sharrows). After several months of data collection, there was a sufficient amount of "cleaned"** data to develop the bike route choice model. The results of the model development have been published in the peer-reviewed journal "Transportation Letters."
The bike route choice model shows how more or less attractive it is to bike between two points in San Francisco, based on the relative scores of a multitude of routes. The model even revealed the value of routes such as "The Wiggle" by demonstrating the distance people were willing to bike out of their way, rather than take more direct routes over nearby hills.
A few nuggets that we found from CycleTracks data in San Francisco:
To capture the value of various routes, as well as the value of potential improvements to those routes, we incorporated the bike route choice model into SFCTA's regional travel demand model SF-CHAMP. SF-CHAMP is the official travel-forecasting tool for transportation planning in San Francisco, a state-of-the-art model that predicts future travel patterns within the Bay Area. It is used to analyze a variety of projects at the Authority and in the region, including the 25-year San Francisco Transportation Plan. Incorporating the bike route choice model into SF-CHAMP makes San Francisco one of the first cities in the world to be able to quantitatively forecast changes in travel behavior-and the effects on congestion and greenhouse-gas emissions-as a result of bicycle infrastructure investment. Academic papers detailing this achievement are can be found at the bottom of this page.
As of August 2012, 4,365 users have submitted trips. 14% of users have submitted 10 or more trips.
Since the SFCTA declared the initial San Francisco project a success in 2010, a number of other agencies and municipalities have begun using CycleTracks to understand the needs of cyclists.
Both the application (iPhone and Android versions) and the bike route choice model are open source and available on Github, to fork and rebrand. We have also made the (anonymized) data collected via the CycleTracks available to public agencies who wish to publicize the original application without reworking it, which allows agencies and researchers across the country to replicate and build on what we've done.
Cities collecting data with CycleTracks
Interested in using CycleTracks in your city? Contact Elizabeth Sall at the SFCTA.
CycleTracks rebranded and improved by other cities
Other derivative products:
See our Slideshare presentation given during Transportation Research Board 2013 Annual Meeting, illustrating how we aggregate data collected from CycleTracks.
Stone Soup Data Collection w/ CycleTracks
from San Francisco County Transportation Authority Modeling Department
PUBLICATIONS: USING CYCLETRACKS DATA TO UNDERSTAND THE NEEDS OF CYCLISTS
Associated papers and presentations: