The Malta Independent 23 September 2019, Monday

Bicycle commuting

Sunday, 28 October 2018, 08:00 Last update: about 12 months ago

An important study published earlier this month entitled 'Mapping Frictions Inhibiting Bicycle Commuting' by Diego Pajarito and Michael Gould used crowdsourced geospatial technologies to track 'frictions', as they called them, on preferred cycling routes in Münster (Germany), Castelló (Spain) and Valletta (Malta). But apart from demonstrating that the trip efficiency of Maltese cycle-commuters was half that of other cities, the study demonstrated the importance of expanding similar crowdsourced real-time data to say a pedestrian crossing (where people needed to catch a bus for instance) that may be vital to rebalance Malta's approach to mass transit provision and modal shift.

Therefore, the timing could not have been better for the public lecture 'Enabling new insights to transport scheme impacts through next generation micro-mobility data' by Professor Susan Grant-Muller which continued to deliver highly relevant subjects we have come to expect from the Institute of Climate Change and Sustainability at the University of Malta. Professor Grant-Muller described the results of various cities across Europe using data volunteered from crowd sourced transport applications, from cycle hire schemes to bus card use, which produced rich 'high-fidelity' data providing planners with a deeper understanding of the wicked problem of urban transport. This fresh technological approach revealed previously hidden nuances of equity, modal shift, age related and application branding issues that went far beyond just counting cars or their velocities.

Although counting cars is relatively easy, how drivers select routes, where they go and how they and other types of commuters change routes because of changing conditions is often very challenging. Collecting anonymous data becomes much easier using opt-in mobile apps, particularly for pedestrian movements and intermodal bus or train passengers. Here, gauging how they construct routes and the efficiency of their trips is a veritable road planners' pot of gold, which prompted questions well into a small post lecture reception. I would personally like to thank Dr Grant-Muller and Dr Maria Attard for an excellent opportunity and hope that the institute will continue with such high quality and relevant public lectures.


Jim Wightman

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