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ODOT embarks on “big data” project with purchase of Strava dataset

Thursday, May 1st, 2014
A valuable bicycle planning and policymaking tool?

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) is the first state transportation agency in the United States to ink a deal with Strava, a leading website and smartphone app used by people to track their bike rides via GPS.

Last fall, the agency paid $20,000 for one-year license of a dataset that includes the activities of about 17,700 riders and 400,000 individual bicycle trips totaling 5 million BMT (bicycle miles traveled) logged on Strava in 2013. The Strava bike “traces” are mapped to OpenStreetMap.

If all goes according to plan, the data could revolutionize how ODOT makes decisions about their policies, plans, and projects. At the very least, forging boldly into the realm of “big data” and pushing the boundaries of bicycle planning marks an important step for an agency that’s facing a very different future and actively looking to shed its old-school, highway-first reputation. (more…)

A closer look at Strava’s ‘heat map’ for the Portland region

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014
The Strava heat map: What secrets does it hold?

A map showing where users of Strava ride has become a web sensation in the past few days. And it’s easy to see why. The Strava Labs Global Heatmap is an amazing visual resource that shows the route of well over 77 million rides. We decided to take a closer look at the map to see what interesting nuggets it revealed about the Portland region.

But before we do that, it’s worth making a huge note of caution about how this map should be interpreted. Keep in mind that — despite many media outlets claiming it shows “where cyclists ride” — it actually only shows where people who use Strava ride. Because of that it captures only a tiny subset of a city’s overall riding activity. The vast majority of everyday riders don’t even know about Strava. It tends to only be used by more serious riders as a training and route-finding aid. That being said, it’s still a lot of data and it’s still pretty neat to ponder… (more…)

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