Is there a better way to monitor the condition of our cycle ways

BTA recently did an article on the condition of the shared path around Karrinyup and Leederville – “Shared Path Maintenance – is enough being done”.  This showed several images of cracks in the shared path.

April 2012 – shared path near Karrinyup Rd













Correspondence back from the Office of the Director General – Department of Transport indicates for the Karrinup Rd section:

The Cycling and Pedestrian Co-ordinator has investigated the section of Principle Shared Path (PSP) north of Karrinyup Road and it has been determined that the surface is not a maintenance issue but a new path would be required. This section of PSP has already been identified as a priority in the WA Bicycle Network Plan 2012 – 2021 with the ultimate alignment for a new PSP through that section being on the east side of the Kwinana Freeway.

Unfortunately requests to clarify what time frames this will occur in were not answered.  As did additional requests relating to other sections including Osborne Park and the Leederville section.

So where to next?  I was fortunate to attend a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) demonstration earlier this week.  The presenter indicated that large cities in the US and Europe where using smart phone applications to help identify issues, including one that monitored the motion of the car, and when there was enough unusual movement, it was able to record and log this as a potential pot hole.

I’m a keen user of technology, including developing a website for cyclists to track issues with the cycling infrastructure.  I’ve since made this site read-only due to the availability of smart phone applications including NeatStreets and Bike Blackspot.  Please note if you are going to use these smart phone applications, then read the response from the Director General – Department of Transport on these applications.

So back to the GIS demonstration.  If there is a smart phone application that can record when a car encounters a pot hole, could the same application be used to record when a cyclists also encounters a similar fault (eg pot hole, crack, raised lip etc)?  Quick search on the Android Market (yes I am proud to say I have an Android), and several apps were located.  Choose the Pothole Agent , and gave it go on the commute home tonight.

Now, there are several differences between a bike and a car, one being the car has suspension which flattens out the drive for the motorist, we don’t have this.  The Pothole Agent classifies the bump from 1 – 10, and basically it recorded the whole shared path trip a 1.  Not that useful but interesting to note this as we all experience those bumps through our bike and our body.

So I spent a little time attempting to filter out the data and only show items which were higher than a 1.  This became more interesting.

View Pot Hole Agent – test whilst riding in a larger map

The above map, shows items which were registered 2 for the first part of the journey, up to just south of Leederville.  I then colour coded the items greater than 2 for the remainder of the journey, taking out the 2’s for the remainder of the journey.  Both the Leederville and Karrinyup sections were identified and are shown in the map.  The 2’s shouldn’t be ignored, as if you look around the Perth area, you may identify where those bumps are.

Should we be using these types of tools to help identify issues with our cycle ways?  Does anyone have the capacity/capability to develop a similar app for cyclists?

About Roland

I returned to cycling around 5 years ago, when I decided to start commuting by bike to work. I'm now cycling around 13,500km's annually, and love it.