Smart Transport

University of Plymouth launches e-bike research project

Popular routes of Co Bikes, using data collected from the patented See.Sense smart fleet devices

The University of Plymouth has started a new research project to help better understand trends on e-bike use in Exeter.

Researchers at the Environmental Futures and Big Data Impacts Lab are using new sensor data insights gathered from Co Bikes - Exeter's bike share fleet - to shine a light on cycling in the city, helping to improve the fleet service and providing insights that will help the council plan to support cycling. 

The insights used for this new research are being collected through Co Bikes’ partnership with See.Sense. 

Research is currently underway, and is scheduled to be completed in June 2022.

See.Sense is gathering data from the Co Bikes fleet on route popularity, swerving and braking, speed, dwell time, road surface condition, as well as bike location and bike usage statistics.

Route popularity and dwell time of Co Bikes users is of particular focus, as this will enable researchers to understand where cyclists are most commonly travelling and how long they are staying at their destination.

In turn, this will allow the Impact Lab to gain an understanding of the provisions needed for e-bike users.

Furthermore, by studying the origin and destination points of journeys from each Co Bikes station, researchers will be able to determine the effectiveness of each individual docking station and plan for the creation of future stations.

Additionally, OSM data and streetmap data will be plotted to examine the impact of hills and gradients on route choice.

Research will also consider the impact of seasonal and weather conditions on e-bike usage in Exeter, and assess whether this should be taken into consideration for future planning. 

Data sharing

The data and research from the Impact project will be shared with Devon County Council, enabling the council to use See.Sense data to ‘sense check’ planned infrastructure proposals to determine if they align with existing route choice data.

This will also provide an additional layer of data for cycle network planners in Exeter that can aid in the creation of a LCWIP (Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan) for the city.

Mark Hodgson, managing director of Co Bikes, said: “Our partnership with See.Sense is enabling an unprecedented view of our e-bike fleet in Exeter.

“This new research being undertaken by the Impact Lab will provide a view of how our fleet is truly operating, and provide us with a greater understanding of how to optimise our e-bike fleet for cyclists in Exeter.”

The Impact Lab is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), and aims to enable local Devon businesses to access expertise to move their business forward.

Dr Lauren Adams from University of Plymouth Impact Labs, said:  “See.Sense data insights will reveal a previously hidden view of cycling in Exeter.

“The data insights collected through Co Bikes e-bike fleet will enable us to paint a detailed picture of the city’s cycling network, and provide a first of its kind analysis of cycling in Exeter.” 

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