Saturday 1 November 2014

TransportCamp Melbourne data, apps, links and ideas

Summary: TransportCamp is an ‘unconference’ bringing together transport professionals, researchers, technologists and citizens interested in using open data, crowdsourcing, technology (apps, smartphones, etc) and innovative methods to improve urban mobility (citizen's efficient access to their desired destinations). I'm attending the Melbourne event and naturally have a focus on utility cycling. In this post, I'll provide useful links to resources and information of relevance. You can also find details below of my session - Mapping the Melbourne Bike Grid.

Flickr CC by 2.0 - Derek Midgley

Related Posts:
> See the routes and maps category of this blog
> See the commuting category of this blog
> See the barriers and solutions category of this blog
Melbourne map of key cycling transport routes, infrastructure and destinations
> Better By Bicycle Melbourne Grid map
Improving Google Maps bicycling layer data for Melbourne

1. My TransportCamp session
It was impromptu but I did a session called: "Mapping the Melbourne Bike Grid - The safe, efficient, connected routes you can ride right now". I used this blog to explain my progression from someone who moved to Melbourne in 2008 and had to figure out the best non-car options for getting around to someone who now rides a bike for all trips to any destination between 2km and 15km. Feel free to contact me on loboadrian AT gmail if you have any queries. Post-session, I've now added some of the things I covered:

a. My calculated benefits of cycling for transport
- Hard facts from my 2013 calendar year that demonstrate cycling really can be cheaper, quicker, easier, safer and more enjoyable than the alternatives for getting around cities like Melbourne.

b. Actual cycling accident history proves how safe it can be
- Urban cycling can be very safe if you control your circumstances, learn about risks and how to avoid them, and choose to ride defensively. The good news is it gets much safer with experience and as you apply what you've learned. For other visual examples of risk minimisation see: Where are Melbourne's real cycling danger spots?

c. Most of my discussion focused on the routes and maps category of this blog
I went through my experiences of trying to find useful, easy-to-use maps of the best (safest, efficient, connected) routes to ride to my destinations. I went through most of the posts in the routes and maps category (starting with the oldest) explaining this evolution:

d. TravelSmart paper/pdf maps have some useful data but have terrible useability. I soon found the BigYak bike trails map which introduced me to all of the off-road trails and paths around Melbourne and how they are connected up (e.g. via the Capital City Trail).

e. Having developed some confidence riding on roads I shifted toward prioritising safe-enough routes that were quicker and unlocked more destinations and started exploring Google Maps Bicycling layer and directions (See: How to use Google Maps to find a good route). The Bicycling layer is very useful if you don't have better info but there is no fully-connected grid and Google's recommended bike directions often proved to be less than optimal!

f. I then looked into other online mapping tools and found that Open Street Maps (OSM) has the most accurate data but its default web interface is very hard to decipher when trying to quickly find a bike route. OSM data is better used when presented through more useable apps. See: How useful is Open Street Map's cycling layer?

g. In trying to find human-recommended key transport routes in Melbourne's inner city and CBD I discovered there was such a thing as a Principal Bicycle Network (PBN), Bicycle Priority Routes, (BPRs), Strategic Cycling Corridors (SCCs) and a VicRoads SmartRoads strategy for routes where certain road users should have priority. Unfortunately, it emerged that much of these key planned cycling routes weren't yet built, completed or connected. See: Best cycling routes through Melbourne's CBD

h. I briefly mentioned that I've tried to get involved with and provide input to local government to see if these gaps/deficiencies can be fixed in the near term (see Improving Brunswick St and St Georges Rd south of Merri Parade) but have been frustrated with the pace of progress as well as the old-school methods of providing input - apply for a community spot on a working group, physically attend meetings and have your input controlled by a minute taker who documents a few bullet points in a Word document. Much later a tiny fraction of your input might make it to some council meeting where some minor changes might be approved to be delivered in 3-7 years.

i. In the last couple of years I've been riding all over Melbourne and have refined an approach to finding safe-enough, efficient, connected routes that become optimal based on what I already know and my experience of trying different variations. I described this in: How to find a safe, convenient route to a regular destination

j. So I've now concluded that each person that wants to cycle for transport right now has to build their own bike grid maps (at least mentally) based around their home/destinations and mix of preferences for safety, efficiency and convenience. But that doesn't mean we can't utilise the learnings of others if they care to share them in effective ways. To that end, I created my own Better By Bicycle Melbourne Grid map where I've started documenting the fully-connected network of key cycling transport (arterial) routes I use to get to my destinations within 20km of home. I've also described the process and useful data sources, apps and context in my key post on this topic: Melbourne map of key cycling transport routes, infrastructure and destinations.

k. I finished up discussing how individual cyclists can create safer de facto cycling routes simply by discovering/choosing the same ones such that a critical mass of cyclists come to use these "best available" routes and motorists drive more safely around them and local/state governments prioritise actually building more cycling infrastructure on them. Mapping initiatives like the Better By Bicycle Melbourne Grid map are the key to such efforts.

l. Finally, by being aware of (and integrating) data sources like the PBN and using Google Maps Bicycling layer and Strava Heatmaps as baseline data, today's transport cyclists can continually extend their bike grid maps in directions that are aligned with future cycling infrastructure. E.g. The Better By Bicycle Melbourne Grid map has some of the PBN data integrated as layers which I'll use in determining the new extensions to my Grid map.

2. About TransportCamp and similar urban mobility conferences
TransportCamp Australia website
What is TransportCamp?
> TransportCamp Blog - 2014 Sessions
CrowdSpot: TransportCamp Melbourne 2014
TransportCampAU (Melbourne 2014) Twitter

3. Some other TransportCamp ideas
Commute By Bike: New crowdsourced bike safety map

NYTimes: Your biking wisdom in 10 words (crowdsourced map)

BikePortland: ODOT embarks on “big data” project with purchase of Strava dataset

Further Info:


Mobility Lab

Australian Urban Research Infrastructure Network (AURIN)
> Workbench (data and tools)
> Data Guide
Principal Bicycle Network
Municipal Bicycle Network
Metropolitan Trail Network
Bicycle Volumes - VicRoads
VicRoads Road Use Hierarchy
Crash Stats
Victorian Integrated Survey of Travel and Activity

> Cycle Stories
> Bike Share - Suggest a station

Strava Labs - Global Heatmap

Public Transport Not Traffic
> CrowdSpot map

Bicycle network planning

> Barriers
> Ideas
> Commute By Bike: New crowdsourced bike safety map

Map Box
> TileMill

> Visual Gallery
> Chicago Divvy bike share - Where do all the bikes go?
> Liveability - Choosing a Neighborhood in Melbourne

> Melbourne

Google Maps
> Google Maps Mania


CKAN instances around the world


> #Datahack Melbourne


NYC Vision Zero crowdsourced map

> Uber 100
> Uber 100 Melbourne trips map
> Quartz: Uber’s usage maps are a handy tool for finding the world’s rich, young people
> ArrestingUber
> StartUp Daily: Arresting Uber vs. The $17 Billion Giant. It really is a transport war now

SF people, you are hypocrites using services like Uber and Lyft
Ycombinator discussion thread

OSSTIP: Open Source Sustainable Transport Informatics Platform

FT Magazine: Big data - are we making a big mistake?

MrTeaCup: The Cult of Sharing