Business Informatics VLBA of the University of Oldenburg presents BITS at international cycling conference in Copenhagen

25 October 2021 - Published by CIE Communications

The Business Informatics Department VLBA presented latest findings of the bicycle data projects BITS (Bicycles and Intelligent Transport Systems) and SmartHelm at the Cycling Research Board Annual Meeting (CRBAM 2021) in the Danish capital of Copenhagen. The conference, which already took place for the fifth time, discussed the latest trends in digitization and planning in the cycling domain between the 13th and 15th October 2021. The two cycling data-based projects of the VLBA Department were presented and discussed in detail in the session "Data Collection Methods" which was moderated by Jones Karlström (VTI) and Hjalmar Christiansen (TU Denmark).

In the BITS presentation entitled "BITS: Open Bicycle Data and what we can learn by it for the improvement of the bicycle infrastructure", project team member Johannes Schering presented the data collection methods in the European bicycle project BITS, which is funded by the Interreg B program until the end of 2022. A wide variety of sensor systems, such as bicycle counting stations, apps, sensors, cameras for detecting critical situations or bicycle parking are implemented and evaluated throughout the whole North Sea region. The collected data was standardized, preprocessed and published on as part of the Bicycle Data student project group. In particular, the website's key performance indicators (KPIs) on European cycling data enable a significantly improved comparability of different cities and applications. At the same time the new cycling KPIs give new insights in bicycle use or the traffic safety situation. The improved data availability also enables a faster expansion of bicycle traffic and the infrastructure. Johannes also discussed the applicability of the published data to the real bicycle infrastructure based on the example of an intersection in Puurs / Belgium (Province of Antwerp). The markings on the road were improved according to the results of the measurement. The detection of the near accidents were repeated in September to enable an evaluation whether the traffic situation has improved in the past two years.   


In the second VLBA talk about cycling data "SmartHelm: Data driven study and analysis on bicycle-based logistics in delivery processing" Harish Moturu presented in detail the current studies as well as the related data collection and challenges in the SmartHelm project with the helmet prototype of UVEX. The project is developing an intelligent bicycle helmet that is intended to measure distractions based on EEG and EyeTracking and to support bicycle couriers in their daily working process. The conduction of the studies by project partner University of Bremen (Cognitive Systems Lab) and the related work with the attention-related data were presented in detail. As part of the project, the VLBA implemented a data management system for handling the biophysiological helmet data and other relevant data from logistics or the bicycle sector. In order to be able to gain knowledge about distractions in real traffic, the project is planning further studies in real traffic situations, which could lead to additional interesting work and results in the data science field. Harish Moturu also referred to the mFUND funding program of the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) that has funded more than 300 digital innovation projects with more than 200 million Euro since 2016. The SmartHelm project has been funded by mFUND with around 1.5 million Euro since November 2019.

Both projects were presented at a live conference for the first time in more than 1.5 years since the beginning of the Covid crisis. The extensive discussion as part of the session resulted in an exciting exchange with other European SmartCycling initiatives. Johannes Schering emphasized that the developed Bicycle Data website will be further used beyond the end of the BITS project. The long-term availability of the data sets and the KPIs will also be ensured by providing the results of SmartHelm that are going to be published and visualized at the website in the nearer future. The exchange with Heike Bunte (Free Hanseatic City of Hamburg) from the Interreg project LUCIA (Lightning in the Baltic Region) provided interesting input for the data analysis work in the SmartHelm project. As part of the upcoming work, the VLBA could consider the influence of lighting conditions on the distractions that are detected by the helmet. 


In this year the CRBAM was organized for the first time by the TU Denmark in Copenhagen. The overarching topic of the conference was the role of the bicycle in supporting the transformation towards a sustainable mobility system that brings together health-promoting aspects with design and functionality. The conference pursued an interdisciplinary approach: The sessions were based on the core topics of cycling safety (including cost-benefit analysis, mental health, motivation studies), behavior (e.g. from sociology, anthropology, psychology, history), data (evaluation of cycling data to facilitate planning, supporting research and quality assessment), cycling demand (including potential analysis and traffic modeling), regional planning (including studies on planning tools and strategies, effect studies). Overall, the international conference was a very good opportunity to exchange ideas with cycling experts from different sections and perspectives as professors, researchers, industrialists, urban traffic or mobility planners etc. On the first day, the contributions from various Scandinavian countries emphasized the importance of cycling research regarding a better infrastructure planning in cities, improving the quality of cycle paths, the role of policy making and the role of cycling in sustainable mobility. The second half of the first day continued with five guided bike tours to the most important cycling spots in Copenhagen, one of the most bike friendly cities in the world. The organizers used the opportunity of the bike tours to convey to the conference participants the importance of cycling in the city of Copenhagen and the infrastructure planning activities carried out in different locations. The second and third day continued with different sessions (including data collection methods) that focused on various research topics in the cycling domain. A topic that was discussed in many contributions, especially in the fields of cycling safety and data, is the Hövding airbag from Sweden which protects cyclists as an alternative to helmets in the case of an accident. The airbag is extremely popular in Scandinavia and is clearly visible in the bicycle traffic situation in Copenhagen. There is an interesting overlap with the SmartHelm approach as the data from the airbag can also be used to improve bicycle infrastructures in cities.

 The Cycling Research Board conference will take place next year in Amsterdam (Netherlands) and for the first time in Germany (Wuppertal) in 2023. The exchange with other researchers in the field of SmartCycling provides important input to the VLBA cycling projects. The feedback will be incorporated into the further working steps in SmartHelm and BITS. The Business Informatics Department of the University of Oldenburg would like to thank the organizers for the excellent live event and the opportunity to exchange ideas with the European partners, which was not possible over such a long period of time.

 This article was written by Johannes Schering and Harish Moturu.