Photo courtesy of Active Essex LDP, ECC and Essex Pedal Power
The trailblazing Essex Pedal Power programme, powered by multiple partners and funders, introduces a unique community-focused endeavour. This initiative aims to make cycling accessible for everyone, by supplying quality new bikes for free to enhance accessibility to employment, education, and local services, while boosting mental and physical health by increasing levels of physical activity.
In the initial phase, 1,100bikes are beingdistributed in Jaywick and Clacton. The project envisages to escalate this number to 5,000 bikes by 2025, targeting areas designated by theSport England Local Delivery Pilot and Essex CountyCouncil Levelling Up. This comprehensive programmenot only equips participants with free cycles but also provides an array ofwrap around supportservices, including freecycle training,bikemaintenance, andregular group bike rides.A key part of Essex Pedal Power is improving the local cycling infrastructure to ensure the cyclists have access to safe and enjoyable cycle paths and lanes, along with good quality bike parking facilities.
The Essex Pedal Powerprogrammeacknowledged the necessityforhigh-quality data to demonstrate the impact of the scheme inincreasingphysical activity andenhancing the local economythrough cycling. However, the acquisition of this data posed several significant obstacles. Current market GPS bike trackers are designed primarily for e-bikes, disregarding 'regular' cycles.Another optionofasking all Essex Pedal Power cyclists to usean app was also untenable. A hassle-free solution that required no user involvement was crucial. Also, the project needed a user-friendly method to retrieve and use the data, without imposing an arduous workload fordata collection, analysis, andreporting.
See.Sense responded to these challenges by supplying theEssex Pedal Powerteam with their patented SUMMIT intelligent cycle tracker for eachbike. This device, renowned for its low power consumption, integrates seamlessly with the regular bikes used in this initiative, harnessing power exclusively from the bicycle's dynamo wheel.
The SUMMIT accurately records the number of rides, distances covered, average speeds, routes taken, CO2 reduction, and active minutes per rider. In addition to this trip data, the SUMMIT collects rich sensor data at a staggering frequency of 800 times per second. This comprehensive data includes popular routes, swerving and braking patterns, dwell times, and even road surface conditions, all invaluable for the planning and maintenance of cycling infrastructure. This GDPR-compliant and anonymised data is delivered to the project via the user-friendly See.Sense dashboard, with customised reports available for in-depth analysis.
The SUMMIT device was previously used in a successful pilot in the Bicycle Intelligent Transport Systems (BITS) Project, co-funded by the Interreg North Sea Region Programme. Learning from this project identified a preference for a solution that did not require the user to manually charge a device, which led to the development of a ‘dynamo-powered’ solution.
The success of thefirst phase of Essex Pedal Power in Clacton and Jaywick has enabled the programme to be scaled up and replicated in other areas of Essex includingBasildon, Colchester,andHarwich and Dovercourt, totalingan additional 2,400bikes.Essex Pedal Power has been visited by Active Travel England who are scoping the potential ofrolling out free bike schemes in other deprived communities across the country.
Preliminary findings from use of the See.Sense SUMMIT have already yielded several actionable insights. These include:
Providing metrics on bike usage
Our dashboard provides the following insights:
Interactive Map of GPS Locations and Stats
Weekly & Monthly Summary
Total Stats Per Bike
Connection Checker for installation
Trend Graphs including:
Distance Travelled (km)
No. of Trips
CO2 Saved (kg)
This allowed programme operators to support participants to increase physical activity.
Identifying possible trip purpose
Using popular route and destination data, we were able to evidence the likely use of the bikes for employment, shopping, utility or education purposes.
Identifying needed parking locations
Our analysis on popular routes and dwell times helped to identify locations for additional parking that was installed at Clacton Train Station, the Job Centre, the Library, Jaywick Inclusion Venture site, Clacton Leisure Centre and Clacton Coastal Academy.
Understanding the impact of new cycling infrastructure on safety, comfort, and usage
A new cyclepathwas installed along the Jaywick to Clacton coastal cycle route in April 2023.See.Sense was able to provide data to support the consultation, and also provide ‘before and after’ analysis to show the impact of the new infrastructure.
In Figure 1, the route popularity data evidenced the need for investment in this area and supported the consultation process. In the first three weeks since completion, data showed that trip usage was already up 17% on this route.
In Figure 2 we show that the surface roughness improved along the route, post resurfacing works.
In Figure 3 we show that there has been a reduction in adverse braking leading up to the pier where there was previously lots of mixing with pedestrians.
Kerry McDonald, LDP Senior Project Manager, Essex County Council shared his experience:
"Our participants don’t have to manually do anything other than ride their bikes, so we are getting 100% of all ride data automatically, which really is a game changer.The rich data provided by See Sense proves that we can significantly increase physical activity levels in deprived areas, increase the use of bike for active travel. The data also enables us to influence future funders of community cycling schemes in Essex."
The project has identified a number of future possibilities for analysis of the data which include:
Disaggregated gender analysis on usage of bike routes
Road and bike path asset management
Monitoring and evaluation of infrastructure schemes
The project and the data will be featured by Active Travel England at an up-coming webinar to showcase best practice examples to other local authorities.
To find out how See.Sense technology and data services can help with your behaviour change monitoring and evaluation requirements please email email@example.com and a member of our team will be in touch.
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