TfL challenges app developers to make use of London’s cycling data


As part of its long-term aim of getting cars off the UK capital’s roads by encouraging the public to use alternative modes of transport, Transport for London (TfL) has challenged app designers to improve their services to cyclists after expanding the data sets it makes available to them.

TfL has added mapping information for eight Cycle Superhighways and one Quietway to their open data portal, allowing developers to make it even easier for Londoners to find and use the best cycle routes. The agency says that new cycling Superhighways and Quietways will be added as they open.

The information, which is provided via TfL’s data portal, allows developers to accurately map out the existing network within smartphone applications and on websites. This can be combined with previously released open data, such as the location of cycle parking at London Underground stations, and the location and availability of bikes from the 780 Santander Cycles bikeshare docking stations across the city, to help cyclists plan their routes easily.

TfL’s real-time travel data is available to developers to help them create better products and services for customers. More than 600 apps powered by TfL data are used by millions of people every day, which includes live travel and journey planning information for bus, Tube and rail networks, data on station accessibility, and information on the busiest times on trains and in stations on the London Underground. The release of the data forms part of the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan’s new blueprint for a healthy London. His long-term vision is to help encourage more citizens to walk and cycle, by making London’s streets healthier, safer and more welcoming.

A key focus will be getting Londoners to reduce their reliance on car use, which will not only help them be more active, but help tackle London’s air pollution crisis. As part of this plan, £2.1bn (US$2.6bn) is being allocated to a new TfL Healthy Streets Portfolio that will focus on getting Londoners walking, cycling and using public transport. This includes doubling the average annual spend on cycling, as announced in the TfL Business Plan, taking London’s cycling spending per head to comparable levels with countries such as Denmark and the Netherlands.

“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,” explained Will Norman, London’s walking and cycling commissioner. “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 another way to make cycling easier for all Londoners.”

Lilli Matson, head of strategy and outcome planning in surface transport at TfL, added, “By providing accurate route information to developers through our open data network, we can help cyclists plan their routes more easily, as well as see where cycle parking or their nearest docking station is.”

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About Author


Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).