Did you have a near miss during your morning cycling commute, or your favorite recreational ride?
Now you can map it on BikeMaps.org and your incident will be part of a new University of Victoria project aimed at improving cycling safety.
In October 2014 UVic geography professor Dr. Trisalyn Nelson and a team of researchers launched a web-map to find hot spots of safe and risky cycling. They are collecting data to conduct geographical information system (GIS) and statistical analysis. Cyclists can record bike crashes, near misses, hazards and thefts in the region.
Hazards refer to potholes, narrow intersections or other road dangers while near-misses and collisions include those with another bike or pedestrian.
“With only 30 to 40 per cent of cycling accident data captured by traditional sources, BikeMaps.org represents an important effort to fill data and information gaps”, says Nelson. “I love cycling and I commute by bike daily. But, especially as a mom, I am always looking for ways our family can ride as safely as possible.”
“If we want to get people on the road, we need to make cycling safer. And unfortunately, we have to turn the lens onto risk in order to get the data that we need to make cycling safer,” Nelson said.
ICBC and police data do not reflect bike accidents if there is no vehicle insurance claim or police response. If a cyclist broke an arm on a problematic curb, there wouldn’t be a record. Near-miss data is important because it’s not recorded elsewhere.
“The ability to capture near-miss incidents is exciting, as it will provide an early warning system for trouble spots and enable municipalities to proactively address potential safety concerns,” said Jennifer Black, manager of the CRD’s Active Transportation Program.
Local governments want to know where to invest on cycling infrastructure, repairs, road improvements or changing traffic patterns. The bike mapping will help them do that.
Most cyclists ride wherever they’re going without incident, but a tool that tracks where the dangers lie has real potential for getting those concerns addressed as patterns or common issues keep turning up.
An additional feature of BikeMaps is the incorporation of ridership data from Strava. Cyclists with GPS devices can download their rides to Strava and see them added to the map, which then shows the popularity of various routes, including mountain biking.