Feeling Safer Yet? Collision Mapper Polling People of Ottawa on Cycling

An organization that crowd-sources cycling collision and danger data wants to know if its map is making you feel better about cycling.

BikeMaps.org – a project partially funded by the federal government to the tune of approximately $930,000 – has been collecting citizen-reported cycling collision data in the area since early this year.

The stats are accessible through their app or website on a worldwide mapping system, which breaks down when and where cycling collisions occurred. It also shows near-misses, hazards, bike thefts and if an official police report was made.

This data is to supplement police stats and information from other sources, which is fairly limited, said Ward Vanlaar, vice president of research with the project. “There is also under-reporting (of cyclist-vehicle collisions),” he said, with about 30 per cent of collisions being collected through regular channels.

“The whole idea of doing BikeMaps … is to have an additional source of data that we can use to mine all the data (about bicycling), and analyze it with the ultimate goal of making bicycling safer for all Canadians.”

While the project hopes to influence government decisions on planning and infrastructure, it also hopes to encourage more people to start cycling.

This December and January, the project is trying to see if their map is making a difference.

In May, BikeMaps.org conducted focus group studies, online polling and roadside surveys to gauge peoples’ opinions (both cyclists and non-cyclists) about bicycling.

Now, on Dec. 15 for cyclists and Jan. 12 for non-cyclists, the organization is doing a second round of focus groups to see how opinions have changed, and promote BikeMaps.org.

“Ultimately we want to get more people on their bicycle,” said Vanlaar.

Ottawa is one of the first cities to be part of the BikeMaps.org project, along with Victoria and Edmonton. The project is on the verge of phase two, where similar activities will take place in Montreal, Halifax and Vancouver.

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