City planners find value in data from Strava, a cyclist tracking app

More than 75 metro areas around the world examine cyclists’ routes and speeds that the app has recorded.

May 09, 2016 |
City planners find value in data from Strava, a cyclist tracking app

Bike path in Portland, Ore. Photo: Ian Sane/Creative Commons

City planners have found a wealth of information that they didn't even need to cobble together themselves.

Strava is an app that uses GPS to record cyclists’ routes, speeds, and riding tendencies, and it also stores the ages, genders, and other attributes of riders. Riders can use the app to see how far and fast they go and compare their marks with others.

The Guardian reports that city planners have begun using Strava Metro, which collects Strava data and organizes it by geographic area. More than 75 regions from around the world use data from Strava Metro, including Glasgow, Brisbane, and towns in Oregon. Cities can use the data to design better bike routes and for traffic planning.

“It helps show the return on investment, on the tax dollars being used by authorities for things like cycle lanes,” Michael Horvath, Co-founder of Strava, told The Guardian. “They want to be able to show this was money well spent, or to learn that there was something they could have done better.”

The data from the app isn’t perfect, as it is skewed more toward tech-savvy individuals who may not be everyday commuters. But Strava has been found to be a relevant enough sample size, representing 5-10% of all bike movements. The company says it gets more than a million new users each month, and if cities continue to make their roads and routes more bike-friendly, the app's popularity will grow.

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