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December 15, 2022 3 min read

As the transport sector accounts for around one-fifth of global CO2 emissions, it is clear that moving towards more sustainable modes of travel, including cycling, is a key step in achieving our climate goals.  

Yet, while progress is being made in facilitating this shift towards cycling, our approach to monitoring and maintaining the roads on which cyclists rely remains largely car-centric.   

Cyclists & Road Surface

Cyclists are some of the most vulnerable road users affected by poor infrastructure conditions. With road defects such as potholes posing potentially fatal risks, cyclists more than ever need to be taken into account when evaluating our roads and monitoring road surface conditions. 

However, approaches to obtaining road surface condition data are often limited in their ability to meet the needs of cyclists and forms of micromobility. 

Highway surface condition is usually geared to supporting motor vehicle performance thresholds, rather than cycle performance thresholds (Parkin, 2019). Visual inspection techniques are slow and require intensive human intervention, while techniques that utilise advanced measurement equipment (sophisticated profilers) come with high costs and require skilled operators. 

As a result, most roads are reviewed infrequently and without sufficient attention given to cyclists, thereby compounding the issue and leading to expensive, reactive repairs.

Cycleway Monitoring and Maintenance

To deliver high quality cycle networks in cities, it is critical that highway maintenance regimes pay particular regard to cyclists’ needs. Inspection frequencies and response levels should be higher on the most important parts of the cycle network, even where these routes are minor as far as motor vehicles are concerned, such as quiet lanes or back streets. 

Many cities are struggling to maintain inspection frequencies at a rate to support the requirements of the Highways Infrastructure code, and as such, are now seeking an efficient and cost-effective way to gather and record data. 

See.Sense technology offers an approach to measuring the condition of road and cycle path surfaces that is objective, and at the same time, correlates with human perceptions of comfort that are reported via the See.Sense app. 

Through route popularity data, and road surface data measured via the vibrations passing through a bike or scooter, See.Sense provides actionable insights for cities and local authorities. 

These insights enable data driven prioritisation of highway maintenance, allowing for targeted preventative maintenance, ensuring the maximum return on investment and cost savings.

See.Sense in Action

See.Sense data has been successfully utilised by the University of Hasselt, Belgium, to assess cycle infrastructure conditions. “A pilot application of the approach in the city Hasselt yielded that the See.Sense technology enables the collection of high-quality information on surface quality to identify areas for improvement and prioritise public investment correctly.”

See.Sense has also been featured in the prestigious International Transport Forum’s Road Safety in Cities: Street Design and Traffic Management Solutions publication for our work on road surface conditions in Dublin. See.Sense data was utilised by engineering firm AECOM to conduct a Quality of Service assessment for the city’s cycling network. AECOM ultimately found that “the data provided is a useful tool for planners to develop cycle networks and also identify maintenance priorities.” 

To find out how See.Sense technology and data services can help with road service quality assessments please email and a member of our team will be in touch.