BITS made good progress in second year of project
The project on Bicycles and ITS (BITS) had continued to achieve good results in the second year of its existence. We would hereby like to share an overview of our highlights in 2020 with you.
COVID-19: threat and opportunity
The BITS project - as many European projects – has been hampered by the COVID-19 crisis. It has affected not only our opportunities to meet and to exchange, but also the ITS implementations and the overall cycling patterns in our NSR countries. COVID-19 might turn out to be an important catalyst for cycling increase, but it also reduces the investment possibilities of, among others, governments.
In the end however, we believe the Interreg NSR BITS project has achieved good results despite these challenges. We have adapted to the new reality and organized as much as possible online. It is noteworthy that transnational working becomes even more obvious and accessible, now that physical travel time has been reduced to zero, as virtually everybody is working online from home. Despite the situation, we have seen the transnational cooperation has been a great added value in the development of the ITS implementations in BITS. We succeeded quite well in continuing the project as well as in contributing to opportunities that arose from the situation. Cycling, as a sustainable and active travel mode, is being recognized more and more as a solution for sustainability related challenges and COVID even speeded up the demand for good cycling conditions. The transnational sharing of knowledge and experience on this are central to BITS and we are glad that we can therefore contribute to the desired shift with our work.
It also became increasingly clear that ITS and data are inherently connected and require a certain approach. To capitalize on the opportunities of ITS and data to improve cycling conditions, international collaboration is an absolute condition. We are happy to contribute to this by being the first and only initiative in the development of transnational common approaches to cycling data.
BITS visibility: mainly online
In the past year we have done our best to be very visible with the BITS project. Due to COVID-19 this was mainly online. We now have an active community of over 1.000 contacts from nearly 800 organisations. We have almost 4.000 followers on social media and the BITS website and we published 58 news stories on our website.
Also, we have been active in a number of online webinars and conference, for example at the ITS Virtual Congress, the POLIS Annual Conference and the 18th European Week of Regions & Cities. We also organised a BITS Academy on Cycle Data on Wednesday 19 February 2020 at the Provinciehuis in Antwerp, hosting more than 80 government representatives and experts from six countries (including Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, United Kingdom, France and Belgium). The aim of the Academy was to share knowledge and experiences about new technologies that generate bicycle data, possibilities of bicycle data and the importance of data for more efficient bicycle policies.
Implementations: seven operational, six in advanced stage of preparation
The first implementations have started, with 3D cameras in the Province of Antwerp (BE), ‘sniffer bikes’, dynamic lighting and smart cameras at intersection in the City of Zwolle (NL), bicycle counting in East Riding of Yorkshire Council (UK), Safety improvement by Radar in Aarhus (DK) and the cycling app for citizens in Oldenburg (DE). Six other implementations are in an advanced stage of preparation. For more detailed information on these implementations look at our website. Early 2020 we also published our state-of-the-art report.
CycleDataHub: the open cycling data hub
The CyclingDataHub (CDH) will be a place where bicycle data is collected, analysed and opened up for everyone interested. This provides useful information that helps create purposeful and effective policies. The first testing of the CDH has taken place and we plan to go live with the CycleDataHub in spring 2021.
Province of Antwerp: winner of Flemish Road Safety Award
On 10th March, at the Flemish Road Safety Congress 2020, our BITS project partner Province of Antwerp won the Flemish Road Safety Award for their BITS pilot project using 3D-camera technology to improve road safety for cyclists. We are proud and happy to be involved in this success and we aim to continue improving the safety and attractivity of cycling with the use of ITS.
BITS Survey: varying use of cycling apps
In Spring 2020, the BITS survey was launched on a large scale. Over 7000 inhabitants of the participating BITS cities and regions completed our survey on cycling and intelligent transport systems (ITS). The survey results provide insight into people’s cycling behaviour, their perceived motivations and the barriers to cycling, as well as their interest in ITS technologies in cycling. Our results show that diehard cyclists are most often using one or more app for cycling, followed by the happy cyclists and the procrastinators. A car fanatic is the least likely to often use an app for cycling at the moment. The most popular apps are apps giving information on cycling conditions (e.g. weather apps) and cycling routes. Within the group of the car fanatics, 60% has never used an app for cycling before.
Best wishes for 2021
2020 was a remarkable and unforgettable year. Fortunately, the BITS project team managed to stay healthy, and despite COVID-19 we continued to make good progress at all levels of our project. We look forward to the new year, in which we will continue to deliver tangible project results.
So, keep following us on our website and social media channels. For now, I wish you a Healthy and Happy New Year!
Project manager BITS