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Smart travel: Transport for London makes cycling data available to app designers

Move will help people on two wheels get around more easily ... but drivers are using apps too, to avoid rat runs

Transport for London (TfL) is challenging app designers to use its date to help make it easier for people on two wheels to get around the capital. The announcement coincides a report on how motorists in the city are using apps to find ‘rat runs’ to avoid traffic jams, causing concern among residents of the streets affected.

TfL says mapping information for eight of London’s Cycle Superhighways as well as one Quietway has been added to its open data portal, which you can find here. New routes will be added once they are open.

According to TfL, the data will enable developers to accurately represent current routes in apps and on websites, and can also be combined with data already put in the public domain relating for example to the Santander Cycles hire scheme, or cycle parking at London Underground stations.

It says there are now in excess of 600 apps that use its data to help Londoners and visitors to the city get around, whether by bus, Tube, rail or on bikes.

London walking and cycling commissioner, Will Norman, said: “Millions of Londoners use apps to navigate around our city every day, and by ensuring this cycling data is available to developers, we can make a big difference to the way journeys are planned.

“By knowing where the infrastructure is and when new parts are opened, cyclists can pick the best route for them, rather than simply following the way they would go by car or bus. It’s yet another way we are working to make cycling even easier for all Londoners,” he added.

Motorists, too, are using apps to make their journey quicker, according to the London Evening Standard, with one, Waze, helping them find rat runs to avoid being stuck in traffic.

The newspaper says that the Google-owned app is leading to lorries becoming stuck and traffic jams in otherwise quiet residential streets.

Nigel Scott, who lives in Ringslade Road in Wood Green, told the newspaper that during the 8am rush hour peak, 300 vehicles an hour will pass along the road.

“It’s used as a rat run by people coming from the north, who want to weave their way through to the centre of London," he said.

London Assembly Member Caroline Russell, the Green Party’s transport spokeswoman, said: “I’m getting complaints from inner London, outer London, all over the place, from people who are saying that they are disturbed by vehicles getting blocked and unable to pass each other on residential roads."

The Standard added that Waze had not responded to a request for a comment.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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