Improving cycling in cities. With that ambition in mind, Mobiel 21 and Bike Citizens developed PING, an innovative tool that allows cities to finetune their cycling policies with the help of citizen science.

PING engages cyclists to col­lect data about cycling routes and bot­tle­necks in their city. PING col­lects these data on a heatmap, which cities can use as a start­ing point to improve cycling on their streets. It’s cit­i­zen sci­ence at its best!

How does PING work? 

As a cit­i­zen sci­ence tool, PING works with cyclists to col­lect data on cycling routes and bot­tle­necks. These cyclists are true experts, as they have first-hand expe­ri­ences with cycling in their city! 

The only tools a cyclist needs to engage in data col­lec­tion through PING are a PING but­ton and the Bike Cit­i­zens app. The PING but­ton is a small push but­ton that a cyclist can con­ve­nient­ly attach to the bike’s han­dle­bar, or to his or her cloth­ing. Via Blue­tooth, the but­ton is con­nect­ed to the Bike Cit­i­zens app on the smart­phone of the cyclist.

If the cyclist encoun­ters an unsafe sit­u­a­tion dur­ing a ride, he or she sim­ple press­es the but­ton. This push of the but­ton, or ping, is auto­mat­i­cal­ly trans­mit­ted to the app, which records the ping and marks the accom­pa­ny­ing location.

When his or her bike jour­ney fin­ish­es, the cyclist can add more infor­ma­tion about the unsafe sit­u­a­tion in the app, for exam­ple by adding a com­ment or a spe­cif­ic cat­e­go­ry to the ping. Final­ly, the app gath­ers the pings of all par­tic­i­pat­ing cyclists on a detailed cycling map. This heatmap of routes and bot­tle­necks is the most com­plete start­ing point for cities to fine­tune their cycling policies.

PING start­ed in 2017 as a pilot project in Brus­sels. There, over 1.000 cyclists col­lect­ed data and helped the city to improve its cycling poli­cies. This suc­cess was soon picked up abroad. Both Ams­ter­dam and Munich worked with PING and their cycling inhab­i­tants to make cycling more pleas­ant. An inter­na­tion­al suc­cess” - Elke Fran­chois, cit­i­zen sci­ence expert at Mobiel 21

PING in your city?

The PING approach allows for trans­par­ent com­mu­ni­ca­tion and coop­er­a­tion between a city and its cyclists. Crowd­sourc­ing and cit­i­zen pol­i­cy par­tic­i­pa­tion have nev­er been this easy.

More­over, PING can be tai­lored to suit every city’s needs and wish­es, both towards a spe­cif­ic neigh­bour­hood or tar­get group (e.g. cycling chil­dren in a school envi­ron­ment). Cities can use the inno­v­a­tive tool to map bot­tle­necks, to col­lect jour­ney data (such as routes, speed and dis­tance), to pri­ori­tise infra­struc­ture invest­ments, or even to eval­u­ate pol­i­cy changes. Every­thing is possible.

Sup­port by Mobiel 21

Thanks to the sup­port of Mobiel 21 in set­ting up the cam­paign, col­lect­ing the data, analysing the data and for­mu­lat­ing rec­om­men­da­tions, cities can rest assured that PING leads to objec­tive pol­i­cy deci­sions based on rel­e­vant and reli­able data. In short, PING has a direct impact!