How can we use data to encourage cycling for journeys around the city?

Challenge Identifier: BC1 – 2018 – MB
Sponsor Cities: Bruges, Mechelen

Bruges is the third biggest city in Flanders with 118.000 inhabitants.  Every inhabitant owns a bike. As well as the inhabitants, commuters and students, the city attracts 5 million visitors a year. inhabitant owns a bike and almost half of all commuting happens by bike.

Mechelen is located in the heart of Flanders, between Brussels and Antwerp. This central position ensures that both cities are reachable in 20 minutes. Mechelen is therefore an ideal operation base. The territory not only hosts the historical city center but also 5 smaller villages: Heffen, Hombeek, Leest, Muizen and Walem. This accumulates in a total of 86.304 inhabitants. The population is very diverse, 27,5% of the population has non-belgian roots (couleur locale, Prisma vzw, 2013). Mechelen has a very active and positive take on diversity.


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. We also want to encourage cycling for all in our cities: inhabitants, schools, employees workers, visitors and parents as well as children.

Current issues that prevent the uptake of cycling in our cities include the fact that people still perceive  car transport as being faster and easier. Working parents in particular find their car the best solution when combining commuting with journeys to and from childcare and school, and the car is seen as the best option when shopping. Multi-modal switching is not always possible.

The urban bicycle infrastructure is far from ideal, cities lack integrated information on the level of safety in specific (school) areas, and there is also a difference between perceived safety  and objective, infrastructural safety.

Therefore, we are looking for:

  • How to get more people biking in our city;
  • Ways to make biking to school and work safe and convenient;
  • Data-driven methods for behaviour change and education;
  • Safe infrastructure (in school environment);
  • Ways to get information about quality of roads and environment;
  • Ways to improve traffic safety (with the focus on bicycles);
  • Safety gear that is attractive, popular and fun.

Expected Outcomes

  • Apps and services delivering:
    • New forms of hardware; (e.g. bike infrastructure in public domain)
    • Tools that persuade/help people access cycling for all purposes; (e.g. gamification tools, apps, …)
    • Tools to assist cities screen/evaluate safety and traffic circumstances;
    • Smart tools, signage;
    • Smart route planners;
    • Tools to identify conflict areas and reduce conflicting priorities;
    • Enabling conditions (bike sheds, bike lanes etc);
    • Educational tools.

Expected Impacts

  • An increase in cycling in the relevant city, especially amongst the target groups of school children;
  • Reduction in accidents especially on school journeys;
  • An increase in the perceived safety of cycling amongst citizens;
  • Fewer cars in city centres
  • An increase in the number of children who know how to cycle safely and choose to cycle.


The available datasets cover both infrastructure and behaviour and include:

  • Brugge: Road Register: information on road infrastructure.
  • Brugge: Intersection Register: information on road intersections.
  • Brugge: Roadworks that affect traffic.
  • Brugge: Traffic measures: information on the amount of motorised and non-motorised traffic on specific roads.
  • Brugge: Demographic measures.
  • Brugge: Geolocation of popular citizen city destinations.
  • Brugge: Traffic accident information.
  • Mechelen: Road infrastructure (street width, gradient, …)
  • Mechelen: District borders
  • Mechelen: Location popular destinations
  • Mechelen: Number of school-age children
  • Mechelen: Bike paths
  • Mechelen: Cyclists by counting loops
  • Mechelen: Location schools
  • Mechelen: Number of accident reporting (police)
  • Mechelen: Route2school (helps schools and municipalities by thoroughly analyze road safety on school routes and collect information about the travel behavior of pupils)
  • Mechelen: Bike counts