Where cycle lanes are installed, and where bike riders actually want to go, are not necessarily the same thing, as any cyclist knows. Now, a team of artists in Germany have sought to address that by developing a robot that gathers data from cyclists to map where they ride.
Residents of Wiesbaden in the southwest of the country, capital of the state of Hesse and described as “the least bike-friendly city in Germany,” can download an app for iPhone or Android devices that communicates with the robot, which then charts data from their rides on a map, as shown in the following video.
Created by artists Manfred Kraft, Tom Kresin and Michael Volkmer the instalation, called Radwende, is on display at the Museum Wiesbaden, and the finished artworks traced by the robot will be sold off once the exhibition closes on 2 July.
They say the maps generated by the robot will help in lobbying and planning for cycling infrastructure that is lacking in Wiesbaden, where they say cyclists lack a voice to campaign on their behalf, and also suffer from a lack of respect from other road users.
The artists believe Radwende can change that by making cyclists visible and enabling them to influence the design of the city.
It's certainly an interesting approach, but is it a foolproof one? Possibly not. If a city has a busy road that cyclists tend to avoid because they feel unsafe, but which could perhaps be an ideal location for a segregated bike lane, low current levels of usag would mean it wouldn't show up as a cycling hotspot.
Last month, we reported how Strava had launched Strava Metro, which it claims gives “ground truth” data on where people ride bikes or go running. The company is licensing the results to city authorities and advocacy groups, including in London and Glasgow.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.