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November 04, 2019 4 min read

Dublin Road Surface Condition Trial with AECOM

It is vital to understand how cyclists currently use our cities roads and what their experiences of these facilities are, however information can be hard to find and of a poor quality; the advancement of technology has the potential to transform our understanding and improve our future cycle networks.

As we move towards a more sustainable future, cities are increasingly challenged with creating safe and effective cycling infrastructure. In order to achieve this, cities require detailed data. Having data about the safety, conditions, use frequency and performance of cycling routes can help prioritise interventions. This information can be a vital tool for city planners and engineers to make informed plans and policy decisions.

In 2019, See.Sense partnered with world-leading engineering consultancy firm AECOM to use See.Sense data to develop a methodology for understanding the Quality of Service of existing cycle networks, with a particular focus on pavement quality, journey time delays and routing.

What is a Quality of Service Assessment?

A ‘Quality of Service assessment’ gives decision makers an understanding of how well the current network provides for the needs of cyclists. The National Cycle Manual in Ireland uses Quality of Service ratings as a measure of the degree to which the 5 needs of a cyclist are met. 

The 5 needs are:

  • Road Safety
  • Coherence
  • Directness
  • Attractiveness
  • Comfort

These needs are then given a rating from D (poor) - A+ (good).

The Quality of service is measured through the following 5 characteristics of infrastructure which can be related back to the 5 Needs of Cyclists:

  • Pavement Condition
  • Number of adjacent Cyclists
  • Number of conflicts per 100m of Routes
  • Journey Time Delay
  • HGV Influence

How can See.Sense Data Insights help?

AECOM identified that the ride insights collected through the See.Sense project with Smart Dublin may be able to provide information on the more challenging, and time consuming, aspects of assessing the QoS for an urban area and focused on looking into the following characteristics of infrastructure:

  • Pavement Condition
  • Journey Time Delay
  • Desire Lanes

Pavement Condition

Pavement Condition reporting is ordinarily undertaken through visual inspections with pavements rate on a scale between from A+ to D.

Once this is understood, it is possible to identify where investment in infrastructure will yield the highest return. 

Challenges with undertaking a Quality of Service Analysis 

The problem planners often face is that current methodologies for undertaking Quality of Service assessments are labour intensive, involving large teams of personnel and can often take several months or even years to complete.

A novel approach

See.Sense and AECOM worked together to show how See.Sense data can be utilised to create a smarter and faster way to conduct Quality of Service assessments and implement new cycle infrastructure. 

This project analysed an existing See.Sense data set in Dublin of over 500 cyclists. The data was gathered using See.Sense bicycle lights that use our unique sensor technology to monitor real-time information including:

  • Cyclists’ routes and movement patterns
  • Speed and dwell times
  • Road surface condition 
  • Collisions or near-miss events
  • Cyclist feedback

See.Sense Road Surface Data Dublin

Project Results: 

  • See.Sense successfully provided a comprehensive data-set, identify hot spot areas of poor road surface condition, speed, dwell time and more. 
  • AECOM and undertook a visual inspection to determine the accuracy of the data relating to road surface condition. They found a high level of correlation between the values in the See.Sense data, and the scores (A+-D) they would give through visual inspection.

  • Following confirmation of this correlation, AECOM used the data to run their own modelling on areas of the city they were most interested in, including identifying areas where the cycleway has been interrupted by kerb and change in surface texture.
  • AECOM examined journey time delay along a popular route to the north of the city, along Clontarf Road, finding that people choosing to travel by bicycle are travelling at higher average speeds than those choosing to travel by car. 

AECOM ultimately found that “the data provided by the lights is a useful tool for planners to develop cycle networks and also identify maintenance priorities, and that the data can be used to get a better understanding of a cities cycle network in terms of: Pavement Condition; Junction Delay; and Desire Lines".

The conclusion of the study is that the vast data gathered by cyclists on their daily commute can generate useful information, in a cost effective way and produce a tool for planners to develop cycle networks, while also identifying maintenance priorities to improve safety. This information can be shared with city planners with the aim of building better infrastructure to improve public safety and make cycling more convenient, which in turn will help reduce congestion and lower city pollution”

We were proud to co-present the findings of this project at the European Transport Conference 2018 and Velocity 2019. The project was also featured as a case study in AECOM’s ‘Unlocking Smarter Infrastructure’ report, which can be accessed here


To find out how See.Sense technology and data services can help with your infrastructure and network maintenance, please email - and a member of our team will be in touch.


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