The Bicycle Monitor (“FietsMonitor”) helps to translate data into valuable, policy-relevant information

28 July 2021 - Published by Matteo Candelari

Working with data sounds easier than it is. Different types of data are collected and stored in different ways and locations. Dutch consultancy and engineering firm Witteveen+Bos discovered that data can help their clients (local and regional authorities) gain insight and answer questions, so they started making an inventory of the available bicycle data. They then prepared, combined and visualised it, so that it could be used by their clients for bicycle and mobility policy.

A data-driven approach to substantiate policy

From this process, the Bicycle Monitor was born, a web application that visualises bicycle-related information. It is set up to process data from various sources, turning it into information that can help policy makers. Firstly, the Bicycle Monitor visualises the individual data sources: it displays the bicycle network and its characteristics and gives insight into bicycle flows. Secondly, the Bicycle Monitor shows potential clashes between the network characteristics and bicycle flows, on the one hand, and the requirements or desired situation drawn up by policy makers on the other. Thirdly, the Bicycle Monitor can predict the effects of proposed measures. This information can be used as input or as a quantitative basis for the decision-making process. It can help in the prioritising of measures in the bicycle network and the substantiating of policy with numbers and figures.

Proven solution

The Bicycle Monitor has been used in various municipalities in the Netherlands. In Haarlem, the application was used to support the municipality’s action plan for bicycles last year. The consultants of Witteveen+Bos also used the tool for making visualisations for the Province of Flevoland and the municipalities of Utrecht, Middelburg, Eindhoven and Uden.

Support tool

Sander Veenstra of Witteveen+Bos: “We see digital tools as instruments which can provide support for our advice. We do not see the Bicycle Monitor as a product in itself, but rather value it as a tool for substantiating the ideas and measures developed by authorities. In our experience, most municipalities already know their bicycle infrastructure and its challenges by heart, so the Bicycle Monitor is most useful in offering validation of assumptions and a dynamic way of visualising data.”

The Bicycle Monitor was born two years ago and is mostly used for descriptive analytics; over the past year, features for diagnostic and predictive analytics were built and tested. Currently, the possibility of using the Bicycle Monitor for prescriptive analytics is being researched, which would enable the company to use the data for the parametric design of bicycle infrastructure.

Part of the information chain

From the BITS perspective the Bicycle Monitor is very interesting, since it makes cycling data visible and useful. In fact, it perfectly fits in the information chain: first collect cycling data through ITS, then make the data accessible, for example via the CycleDataHub, then visualising the data via the Bicycle Monitor and finally use it to improve cycling policy.