Unless you follow a lot of angry cyclists on Twitter, it can be difficult to work out which bits of infrastructure are working for our two-wheeled brethren. Cyclists aren't always included in traffic surveys, and cycle lanes are a relatively new technology: we know far less about how they're used than we do about vehicular roads.
That's why Glasgow's city authorities have launched a new, route-tracking app to collect data on how the city's streets are used by cylists. Glasgow Cycling uses GPS to track your route; it also shows you other cyclists' routes, and nearby locking stations and repair shops (the green and purple icons on the right hand screenshot, below).
Image: Glasgow Cycling.
According to the app's website, the data will allow the city to better plan for future cycling infrastructure:
By giving visibility of routes, the types of journies being undertaken by the citizens of Glasgow, together we can build a true picture of our cycling needs and allow the city to deliver a better cycling experience to citizens and visitors.
There is a flaw in this plan, however. Measuring how people use existing infrastructure can only tell you that their chosen route is better than the alternatives: there's no way of indicating that the route is actually dangerous, long-winded and will otherwise make your daily commute hellish. The data Glasgow collects may therefore end up being self-fulfilling, showing only that the current system appears to be working, and that more of the same is needed.
Hopefully, though, the data will be combined with surveys and public consultations – and, for the best insight possible, perhaps a scan of angry cyclists' Tweets will be thrown into the mix, too.