Cycling pilot with BAM / AE

Pilots in Mechelen & Bruges 

How can data be used to encourage people to cycle around the city?

QUICK FACTS

  • Project:  Safe cycling
  • Location: Bruges (Belgium, 118.600 inhabitants) and Mechelen (Belgium, 86.600 inhabitants)
  • Challenge: How can we use data to improve cycling (safety) in the city?
  • Solution: Gamification to encourage (safe) cycling to school and gather insights

THE CHALLENGE

We want to have more people biking in/to our city, with a strong focus on children and their safety, particularly on journeys between home and school. Currently, cycling is still perceived as less safe and convenient than riding a car. How can we measure and improve the safety of cycling in the city to encourage more people to ride bikes?

THE SOLUTION

With the AllRide project, two classes of high school students in Bruges, and 66 primary school children from Mechelen cycled to school on a bike with a smart lamp, which mapped the traveled routes live. 

The data was collected via an online game platform where children can provide feedback, gain insight into safe routes, and view the routes they have travelled. When they displayed desired behaviour, e.g. biking to school and giving feedback on unsafe points on the route, they collected points which allowed them to gain access to additional levels and thus win more rewards, at individual and class level. Thanks to their feedback, the cities could use the results to analyze and improve their cycle road network. Besides, safer alternative routes could be proposed which contributed to a change in mentality regarding safe cycling.

RESULTS AND LEARNINGS

  • Co-creation/stakeholder management is key in building up an complete solution with a fragile target group such as children. Investing a lot of time in it early on gives high return in terms of trust.
  • Strategy to start a journey, from understanding over insights towards offering solutions is in line with needs.
  • Collecting real-time cycle and safety data/habits is highly valuable for parents, schools, cities and scholars.
  • Gamification as influencing tactic works, but from the POC (Proof Of Concept) it is difficult to estimate whether this is a long-lasting effect. The results during the 6-month pilot proved that a high level of outside stimuli and nudging was needed to get adolescents to frequently and continuously use the tool.
  • Feedback of scholars on unsafe spots on their bike route can help define secured itineraries.
  • Building communities can positively influence biking behaviour to and from school.
  • The city organization must be prepared to react to the incoming remarks. Also, the information from the application should integrate with other software systems so for example the remarks can be transferred to the system where the maintenance teams keep track of their tasks.

HOW CAN OTHER CITIES BENEFIT FROM THIS PILOT?

A sustainable and safe route to school is a global challenge for cities. Cities can use the data collected in the AllRide platform to detect critical points in their mobility network and adjust their infrastructure accordingly. Experiences of other cities can contribute to better insights and faster decision-making. Being able to use the same app cross-city could increase usage.

In addition, cities can publish this (open) data to find innovative solutions that provide solutions to the mobility challenges or improve air quality. Furthermore, it showed that an app is easy to use and can, therefore, be expanded easily to other cities.

 

NEXT STEPS

By gaining the insights both Bruges and Mechelen can offer solutions to create safer and healthier school environments by steering the infrastructure, e.g. dynamically allowing local car traffic into school zones and rerouting others, etc. But on the other hand the city could also leverage the digital connectivity of the bike and offer green waves for groups of digitally recognized bikers for instance.

BAM Belgium and AE nv are now considering to officially join forces through an AllRide start-up. They will continue in order to develop a go to market solution. They are actively looking for financing options in other to develop AllRide to its full potential and involving stakeholders in order to match the needs. They are also looking for other potential target groups, such as commuters or sport club members.