Analyzing Bicycle Travel with GIS
Bicycling provides a number of health and cost benefits to the rider and is becoming increasingly prevalent as an alternative mode of transportation in the United States. Studies have shown that cities and towns that invest in bicycle and walking infrastructure are seeing the benefits of increased property values, job growth, and increased tourism. Unfortunately the data needed to plan for bicycle improvements, or analyze past improvements, is not always as accessible as vehicle data.
Recently SRPC gained access to a year’s worth of bicycle GIS data from STRAVA, a company whose smart phone and personal GPS application allows users to track bicycle activities such as daily commutes or recreational outings. The NHDOT Bicycle and Pedestrian program, along with the NHDOT Bicycle Pedestrian Transportation Advisory Committee, purchased the data from STRAVA and made it available to the RPCs. The data includes attributes such as distances traveled for each trip, commute counts, and ride time per trip. Demographic and temporal information are also included, so SRPC staff members could analyze bicycle patterns based on factors such as age, gender, season, or even the hour of the day.
Collecting bicycle data typically requires conducting surveys and setting up traffic count equipment along roads seeing frequent bike use. Data acquired through phone and GPS applications, such as STRAVA, provides a basis for making informed transportation decisions when field data for a particular location may be lacking or funding for analysis is limited. In the future this data could serve as part of a much larger network of information as state, regional, and local organizations continue to collect and improve upon bicycle data in the state of New Hampshire.
Bicycling and Walking in the United States: 2014 Benchmark Report