Oregon wants to make its roads safer and more convenient for cyclists, but has a problem—it has very little data on where people ride and what influences their choices. So it turned to an outfit that has loads of data on that: Strava.
The Oregon DOT is poring through reams of data provided by the popular app, used by cyclists to track, among other things, where and when they ride. The information could be used to help shape transportation projects.
“We were really deficient on the cycling and walking side of data,” said Margi Bradway, the active transportation lead at the Oregon DOT. State officials could build bike lanes where they seemed logical, but they didn’t really know where they were most needed or if those that were built were popular. With the hard data from Strava, educated guesses become informed decisions.
The idea to tap the power of Strava came to Bradway in the summer of 2013. She was on a ride and noticed everyone tapping away at Strava during a break.
Strava jumped at the chance to sell the data and finalized the deal in September. That’s led to similar partnerships with London, Glasgow, Orlando, Florida and other cities. and other cities, creating an unexpected new revenue stream for an app designed to help cyclists and runners connect online, share their progress and encourage each other.
For $20,000 a year, transportation planners and others can access Strava Metro, which provides an unprecedented look at where and how people are biking. It can tell them where they speed up and slow down, for example, or where they might stay in the street or ride on a crosswalk. That information can reveal where bike lanes or traffic calming measures would be useful, and if those already installed are effective.