August 14, 2017
Information about bicycle route choice and the impact of bicycle infrastructure on Champaign County is scarce. A newly updated mobile app hopes to change that. Developed at the RPC in partnership with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), the BikeMoves Illinois app is an open-source smartphone application used to collect bicycle route data in Champaign County and throughout Illinois. The RPC will analyze the data in hopes of determining where cyclists prefer to ride—and which streets and intersections they avoid.
BikeMoves Illinois allows users to record their bicycle trips and share them with staff at the Champaign Urbana Urbanized Area Transportation Study (CUUATS), a program of the RPC. The app also provides users with helpful information about the area’s bicycle network, such as the locations of bike lanes and bike parking. On a more personal level for users, the app delivers statistics about trips, like the number of miles traveled, average speed, and the amount of greenhouse gas reduced. Cyclists can also use the app to report issues, such as potholes or fallen tree limbs blocking a bicycle lane, which are shared with the local agency responsible for the street. To protect users’ privacy, trips are submitted anonymously and CUUATS never makes details of individual trips public.
“Version 2.0 of BikeMoves Illinois, which we released for iOS and Android, is a complete rewrite of the app,” says Matt Yoder, transportation planner at CUUATS and the lead developer of the app. “It features an improved map, automatic recording of trips, and detailed trip statistics and charts. We hope that this version will allow even more cyclists to share their routes and improve bicycle planning in our community.”
Since the initial release of BikeMoves Illinois in August 2016, users of the app have submitted more than 600 bicycle trips. RPC planners are currently matching the Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates from these trips to the street network and analyzing patterns in the routes selected by cyclists. This information will be used to improve future bicycle planning efforts and to analyze the effectiveness of existing bicycle facilities, such as bike lanes and shared-use paths.
“The BikeMoves Illinois app will only improve the way we plan for bikes, including implementing plans like the Urbana Bicycle Master Plan and the Savoy Bike & Pedestrian Plan,” comments CUUATS transportation planner Gabe Lewis. “Planners and engineers can evaluate how many bicyclists are using a street or trail to prioritize improvements or evaluate the change after an improvement is made.”
While BikeMoves Illinois is currently being piloted in Champaign County, the RPC aims to create an app that can be used throughout Illinois. “IDOT published a statewide bicycle plan in 2014 and their planners and engineers face the same challenges in obtaining accurate bicycle route data that we see at the local level,” says Yoder. “Eventually we hope that BikeMoves Illinois can serve as an ongoing source of data about cycling patterns statewide.” According to Yoder, the procedures used to analyze the route data are also being documented for use by IDOT and other state agencies.