More support for our GeoVation bid coming in

As we prepare to face the judges at the Dragon's Den -style contest for GeoVation on May 4th, we're encouraged that more support is continuing to come in.

CPRE (The Campaign to Protect Rural England) work actively on transport matters amongst other issues around the UK.

They have added their support:

"The Campaign to Protect Rural England is delighted to be able to support the CycleStreets GeoVation Challenge bid. We have been working with local communities and parish councils to increase travel options in rural areas as part of our Transport Toolkit project, which was featured in the Department for Transport's Local Transport White Paper earlier this year. Through this work we have found there is a real need for new on-line collaboration tools to help improve conditions for cycling. We believe these innovative proposals would be a huge step forward not just for cycling campaign groups but for others engaged at the local level who seek to improve the range of sustainable travel choices."

- Ralph Smyth, Senior Transport Campaigner, CPRE

Also, the creator of the heavily-used OpenCycleMap map, Andy Allan, has written on his blog about "The Problem of Cycle Complaining" and supporting our bid.

He describes our bid as "a hugely important step forward for all cycle campaigning groups". He hits the nail on the head, recognising the same problems that we and other groups around the country have found, as this extract explains:

If a cycle group want to approach a council to convert one-way roads into two-way, they are unlikely to have the traffic simulations to show the five most useful changes. There’s just a huge gulf in tools and technologies available to each side, so when the only way things work is for one side to suggest and the other to accept/refuse, it’s easier to see where so much reactionary complaining comes from.

Enter the guys behind CycleStreets, with their “Helping campaigners campaign” proposal. You can read it for yourself, but in summary is a web-based tool to track, manage and develop solutions to infrastructure problems facing cyclists. While it’s not a panacea for everything I’ve discussed, I think it’s a hugely important step forward for all cycle campaigning groups. Their proposal has been short-listed for the GeoVation awards finals in two weeks’ time and I wish them the best of luck, the funding from that would really kick things off. If you want to show your support then go for it, through your blogs, twitter or however you see fit. Even if they don’t manage the grand prize I hope to see their proposals come to fruition in the near future, especially given their track record of getting things done. I hope to get the opportunity to help their ideas see the light of day – it will be an excellent tool to help turn cycle complaining into the results we want to see.

CPRE and Andy Allan of OpenCycleMap join other supporters of the bid:

  • Cyclenation, the national federation of cycle campaign groups
  • CTC, the national cyclists’ organisation
  • London Cycling Campaign
  • Richmond Cycling Campaign
  • Bristol
  • Pedals (Nottingham Cycling Campaign)
  • Dublin Cycling Campaign
  • Cambridge Cycling Campaign
  • Spokes – the Lothian Cycle Campaign
  • Spokes (East Kent Cycle Campaign)
  • Loughborough & District Cycle Users' Campaign
  • Push Bikes, the Birmingham Cycling Campaign
  • CycleSheffield

Read their quotes of support in section 10 our full bid document.

If you're free on 4th May, we'd love you to come to the GeoVation Showcase to support us (and vote for us for the additional Community Prize!). It's a daytime event on the south coast, so we're aware it may not be easy for people to come to, but do come should you happen to be free. There are a number of other interesting projects, so it will be a good chance to hear about them and mingle and network with other innovators.

Get your free ticket here: http://geovationshowcase2011.eventbrite.com/

Here's a great picture of many of the people whose ideas got through to the shortlisting stage of GeoVation:

GeoVation

Photo credit: GeoVation blog

Press release: CycleStreets’ cycling project to face Dragon’s Den -style contest

A Cambridge-based project to improve cycling around the Britain has reached the finals of a national funding contest, GeoVation, run by the Ordnance Survey. GeoVation aims to combine Geography and Innovation to help fund ideas which will help improve transport of various kinds.

The bid by Cambridge-based CycleStreets, who run the UK-wide cycle journey planner website, has reached the final 10 projects aiming to improve transport in Britain. Over 150 entries were initially submitted, and CycleStreets have succeeded in the initial shortlisting stage and a subsequent workshop event.

The 'Dragon's Den' -style event to select the winning projects will be held on 4th May at the Ordnance Survey's new eco-friendly headquarters in Southampton. This 'GeoVation Showcase' event will select around five winners, who will share a bounty of £150,000, to enable the projects to be developed.

CycleStreets' proposal is for a web-based system to improve the effectiveness of cycling advocacy groups around the UK. These groups aim to get more people on their bikes, by encouraging local councils to create safer and more convenient conditions for cycling. It is designed to help volunteers who care passionately about improving cycling to work together as effectively as possible.

CycleStreets' proposal has the backing of both of the national cycling campaign bodies and a range of groups around the UK, including Cambridge Cycling Campaign. For instance, CTC – the national cyclists' organisation said:

"A webtool for cyclists to help local councils spend their cycling budgets cost-effectively would be a wonderful 'big society' venture, that could yield huge benefits for our health and that of our streets, communities and the environment."

CycleStreets' idea will make use of a variety of information sources, including the Ordnance Survey's boundary and postcode data, collision and planning application information, and OpenStreetMap data.

Dr Chris Parker, GeoVation Co-ordinator at Ordnance Survey, said:

"There are huge and exciting opportunities for geography to be harnessed to help us all travel in a smarter, more sustainable way, as all our finalists have clearly demonstrated. We're looking forward to seeing the CycleStreets pitch and wish them the best of luck."

Notes for editors:

  1. Information about GeoVation, and the finalists – including CycleStreets' proposal – can be found online at http://www.geovation.org.uk/.
  2. Details of CycleStreets' bid, 'Helping Campaigners Campaign' is at http://www.cyclestreets.net/blog/2011/03/06/geovation-bid-shortlisted/
  3. For more details, contact CycleStreets
  4. CycleStreets is a not-for-profit company based in Cambridge, and was created as an off-shoot of Cambridge Cycling Campaign.
  5. CycleStreets runs the UK-wide Cycle journey planner and Photomap at www.cyclestreets.net , which has had over 640,000 journeys planned. Users can plan cycle-friendly routes from A-B, and will get three options – a quietest, fastest and balanced route option. The Photomap enables people to add photos of cycling-related problems and good practice to the map.
  6. A copy of the Ordnance Survey logo and the CycleStreets logo are available. A full-size version of the graphic above is also available.

Through to the GeoVation final!

On the way to the OSLast week we took part in the GeoVation Camp at the Ordnance Survey's splendid new HQ in Southampton. It was a fun, if exhausting, weekend.

The purpose of the weekend was for GeoVation to narrow down to a final shortlist the ideas that would go to the final.

GeoVation presentationOur proposal is called 'Helping Campaigners Campaign' (a more catchy title to be determined!), and is aimed at making the work of existing cycle campaign groups be as efficient and effective as possible.

Over the weekend, we, along with the other 20 groups through to this stage of the contest, developed their ideas and prepared a presentation to the judges as well as a 2-minute pecha kucha presentation.

We're pleased to say that we're into the final 10! We'll be attending the final pitching stage on May 4th, and are looking forward to it. If we are amongst the winning groups, this would result in funding of around £30,000 to implement the idea.

Discussing the proposals   Developing the proposals

Several other proposals that we really liked, such as MySociety's FixMyTransport for mobile and a mobile multi-modal journey planner (which we hope would use our routing!) were also through to the final, which is great news.

CycleStreets’ bid to GeoVation shortlisted

How can we improve transport in Britain?

We're pleased to announce that our GeoVation bid, 'Helping Campaigners Campaign' has been shortlisted from the 155 ideas submitted to GeoVation!

The proposal is for an extensive suite of tools that will really help cycling campaigners around the UK - people who are already enthused - to be more effective in their work. It will build on the basic reporting facility in our Photomap and its fleldgling categorisation system.

These groups – large and small, national and local, are the people on the ground who work make cycling better. They're already enthused, so we need to give them as much support as possible.

However, there's a way to go yet - firstly we are invited to develop the idea at the GeoVation Camp, 25 – 27 March. The best ideas, hopefully including ours(!) will then go forward to the final pitching session, the GeoVation Showcase, on May 4th.

Support for our bid

We're pleased to say that the bid now has the support of both of the national cycle campaigning organisations as well as a number of the most active local groups, including the biggest, London Cycling Campaign:

  • Cyclenation, the national federation of cycle campaign groups
  • CTC, the national cyclists’ organisation
  • Cambridge Cycling Campaign
  • London Cycling Campaign
  • Richmond Cycling Campaign
  • Bristol
  • Pedals (Nottingham Cycling Campaign)
  • Dublin Cycling Campaign
  • Spokes - the Lothian Cycle Campaign
  • Spokes (East Kent Cycle Campaign)
  • Loughborough & District Cycle Users' Campaign
  • Push Bikes, the Birmingham Cycling Campaign
  • CycleSheffield

all of whom have written quotes of support. Please let us know if you would like to add your group to the list.

How would it work, in brief?

  1. Cyclists would pinpoint problems (points/lines) on a map, e.g. lack of cycle parking, hostile roads, absence of needed route, poor quality cycling conditions, etc., with a photo if available. Planning applications could also appear automatically where the data is available.
  2. (Mobile apps can also post to the database using the existing infrastructure to enable this.)
  3. Others can publicly comment on each submission and add local knowledge. Examples of best practice elsewhere in the system can be pulled in (e.g. as example solutions).
  4. A 'heat map' of problem areas would start to develop, together with per-point indications of status of a problem
  5. Each location effectively becomes an entry in both the map and in a forum-style view
  6. Campaign group members would log in to their group's area of the website, and would have drag-and-drop -style tools to prioritise and discuss the locations. Locations could also be grouped together, e.g. so that multiple issues arising from one development are treated most effectively.
  7. Documents, e-mails and web references can be 'attached' to a particular issue so that all information relating to one issue is in one place.
  8. Cyclists in each area would also be encouraged to register and to 'draw on the map' their typical journeys (helped by the CycleStreets journey planner), so that they can then be alerted to issues and campaigns along those routes
  9. As an issue progresses in terms of external campaigning, it is updated and 'published' in various ways via the site
  10. Prioritised lists can be 'pushed out' to Local Authority contacts, or they can be invited to join the conversation
  11. When issues are finally resolved these would be marked as such, also publicising the work of the group concerned
  12. Where routes in the CycleStreets journey planner are planned that pass through improved areas, the work of the group would be publicised!

The whole system would need to be extremely user-friendly, so that it gets the widest possible usage and actively engages people without technical skills.

Helping campaigners campaign: our GeoVation challenge bid

Cycling in the Netherlands happens because of bike-friendly culture and excellent infrastructure.

Let's face it - cycling conditions in the UK need to be improved massively. Cycle lanes that end unexpectedly, roads shared with lorries and traffic fumes, non-existent cycle parking. Any cyclist can give you a catalogue of problems that need tackling.

The end result is far fewer people cycling than there should be. Despite odd spots around the UK like Cambridge, Oxford, York which have a cycling culture, the outlook around the UK is not great.

Cycle campaign groups are key to changing this. These groups - large and small, national and local, are the people on the ground who work make cycling better. They're already enthused, so we need to give them as much support as possible.

How can cycle campaigners deal with the deluge of problems on our streets?

As well as our journey planner, CycleStreets includes a Photomap (with so far around 26,000 photos), designed to allow cycle campaigners (like us) and the public pinpoint problems they experience. In short, it's a campaigning tool aimed to help campaigners do their job. However, it could be made a lot more useful and user-friendly than it currently is.

We plan to help solve the problems that every campaign group around the UK continually faces.

We want to build on the existing Photomap to provide cycle campaigners with the best possible tools to make their job much easier.

  • Cyclists and the public need a better way to pinpoint problems like lack of cycle parking, desirable new cycle paths, better on-street conditions, etc.;
  • Campaigners need tools to prioritise problems in their area and group related problems together;
  • People need simpler means to collaborate by adding local knowledge and views about each problem;
  • Cycle campaign groups need better tools to make the scale of the problem clearer;
  • People who cycle through an area need to become aware of campaign work going on;
  • The profile of local cycle campaign groups needs to be much higher and they can be helped get more members;
  • Campaigners shouldn't have to reinvent the wheel but have access to great tools immediately;
  • Campaign groups need to help Local Authorities listen and take up the problems;
  • Local Authorities and funding bodies need a clearer idea of the scale of the problem so that money can be found;
  • Campaigners need more direct access to related information such as collision statistics, to avoid having to search for it.

... all in the most user-friendly way possible.

How would it work, in brief?

  1. Cyclists would pinpoint problems (points/lines) on a map, e.g. lack of cycle parking, hostile roads, absence of needed route, poor quality cycling conditions, etc., with a photo if available
  2. (Mobile apps can also post to the database using the existing infrastructure to enable this.)
  3. Others can publicly comment on each submission and add local knowledge
  4. A 'heat map' of problem areas would start to develop, together with per-point indications of status of a problem
  5. Each location effectively becomes an entry in both the map and in a forum-style view
  6. Campaign group members would log in to their group's area of the website, and would have drag-and-drop -style tools to prioritise and discuss the locations. Locations could also be grouped together, e.g. so that multiple issues arising from one development are treated most effectively.
  7. Documents, e-mails and web references can be 'attached' to a particular issue so that all information relating to one issue is in one place.
  8. Cyclists in each area would also be encouraged to register and to 'draw on the map' their typical journeys (helped by the CycleStreets journey planner), so that they can then be alerted to issues and campaigns along those routes
  9. As an issue progresses in terms of external campaigning, it is updated and 'published' in various ways via the site
  10. Prioritised lists can be 'pushed out' to Local Authority contacts, or they can be invited to join the conversation
  11. When issues are finally resolved these would be marked as such, also publicising the work of the group concerned
  12. Where routes in the CycleStreets journey planner are planned that pass through improved areas, the work of the group would be publicised!

The whole system would need to be extremely user-friendly, so that it gets the widest possible usage and actively engages people without technical skills.

Our proposal

We are proposing to submit a bid to the GeoVation Challenge, the Ordnance Survey initiative which is running a funding competition, "How can we improve transport in Britain?".

We plan to bid for one of the six pots of £30,000 available to create an extremely user-friendly set of tools that would be available free-of-charge to every campaign group in the country, branded in an area-specific way and embeddable within campaign group websites.

Put simply, we want campaigners to be able to carry out their work much more effectively, to reduce the effort required, all the way from identifying problems to seeing them fixed. As members of Cambridge Cycling Campaign, we have ourselves long-needed tools like this, and we want to create a facility which will be enthusiastically taken up around the country.

Here is our full draft proposal. We welcome ideas for enhancements.

Please support our bid

Please comment on the bid here.

Please let us know your comments - you can contact us or just leave a comment below.