My friend Maz pinged me a link earlier today to an Evening Times article titled “Glasgow bike project wants cyclists to help map city routes”. Seems to be a re-run of a project the council ran last year, which I’d half-heartedly tried to take part in.
The main… challenge for my participation last year was they’ve partnered up with Naviki. Whilst I’m sure it’s a lovely and wonderful service run by wonderful people, alas it’s not an app/site I’d come across before this project: from a bit of a poke about seems to have a bit more traction on mainland Europe than here, where it’s pretty much all Strava in my experience.
The main technical problem was, as I subsequently tweeted, bulk uploads of GPX data isn’t possible, and they don’t seem to have a public API, which means the wonderful tapiriik service can’t hook up to it (either for backup purposes, or syncing). Indeed, there’s a github bug with all the details:
Hi @Naviki! – I'd love to do the @glasgowcc ride tracker thing. It uses your app. BUT I already use a GPS tracker. Any chance you could either add support for bulk upload of GPX to your website, OR open up/send API details for tapiriik integration https://t.co/feHtrZxnb8 ?
— rleyton (@rleyton) April 17, 2018
So I’d sort of uploaded some of my rides (all of which I log with a few presses of my watch; it’s not a faff to do this), but not all of them. I’m keen to help show the council there’s plenty of us out there cycling when they try things like this, but my time and patience is/was a bit limited.
So assuming I’d like to help Glasgow council again in 2018, my options to take part are:
- Continue using my watch (requires a few button presses, and it all automatically syncs to Strava), and use my GPX export via tapiriik to upload each individual GPX file one at a time (==periodic faff)
- Start up the Naviki app on my phone, as well as on my watch (==extra faff every day)
- Have a bit of a moan and try and see if there’s anything other options, or more to it (==this hour-long drafting faff)
The larger question though is why are the council doing it this way anyway? @BikeGobGlasgow pointed this out here, Strava already make a lot of data available, for free – see the Glasgow heatmap here (street level detail needs a login). But they also have (paid for) services available to bodies/organisations such as councils to access anonymised ride data.
I know one of the arguments might be that us Strava/Garmin users are already likely to be quite engaged with cycling, and are may be a bit self-selecting, which may not make it representative. Along the likes of ‘new protected cycle provision isn’t for people who already cycle, it’s for the people who aren’t yet comfortable doing so’.
However, I still rather doubt there’s a huge advantage using data sourced from (I fear) slightly patchy adoption of a clunky/special app involving various degrees of faff, over the richer, and more widely adopted Strava platform might offer – which would certainly average out to a good usage indicator.
The effort from the council links to a new(?) active/sustainable travel website too at https://www.smartertravelgla.co.uk/ – promising stuff. On the running front, better information is available at https://peoplemakeglasgow.com/running-in-glasgow though, talking about running clubs, and parkrun (which first came to Scotland in Glasgow’s Pollok park, 10 years ago…)