Monday, April 28, 2014

Strava Heat Map shows Popular Salem Routes

Earlier this month I saw a heat map for a larger urban place - maybe Portland? - and I didn't investigate further, thinking it was a hacked-together datamap from a larger tech community.

Turns out it's from all over!

A reader this morning sent a link to the Salem view. Strava has aggregated data from their users - so we're talking relatively serious and affluent road cyclists here - to show the most popular bike routes. I don't know how many are from Salem, but this gives you a starting point for actual use.

It is interesting to see, for example, how much the path on the Center Street Bridge is used - even with the Union St RR Bridge close by.  The connections are more direct in some directions, and it's not surprising to see this group using it a lot. Keubler and Cordon get a good bit of use because they're the only connecting roads out there. It's funny to see people with Stravas biking in Minto Park (and to it via the "secret" RR trail) - probably some runners are in this data set too? Or maybe that's a measure of people with fancy bike gear who nevertheless don't like traffic.  Conclusions from the map should probably be tentative.

What stands out to you when you click through and check it out?

Update 1

The yellow/red layer shows the hot spots better than the blue.

Check out the bike shops, starbucks, and the red lot.

The bike shops, Starbucks, and the Bike Club's red lot ride origin
are all popular with this subset of people who bike
North-south connectivity in downtown is not very good. Lots of activity on the State/Court couplet, and some too on Marion/Center.  These are a lot of "strong and fearless" recreational riders!

Update 2

BikePortland has a large story about this.  Last fall ODOT entered into an agreement with Strava to purchase the data. Very interesting development.

Also, I should have been clearer - but I didn't fully understand this myself - Strava is an app, not a device, and the hardware requirement is apparently a smartphone, and not a bike-specific gps unit. Perhaps readers who use Strava can chime in?

Update 3

NE Salem around I-5 and Silverton Road
A lot of the comments in Portland about ODOT and the data center on questions of equity.  People seem really concerned that those who use the data will not be aware of its limitations. Some objections, in fact, have verged on asserting that no data would be better than this skewed data.

Arguing that no data is better than imperfect data seems like a very bad argument.

But this clip of NE Salem shows clearly some of the limitations of the dataset.  17th and Sunnyview are very active, but Brown Road which is a real focus for investment right now, and runs by schools, shows little activity.  So this is a clear instance of an important bikeway that doesn't really show up on the heat map.  Lancaster is certainly underrepresented.  Cordon Road shows some red - but that's a bike lane on an urban highway, and not anything family-friendly.  And it seems unlikely that Cordon has more bike transport than Lancaster - that's club, recreational, and training riding on Cordon. You couldn't conclude from the activity that it's a successful bikeway.  The activity on Silverton Road doesn't even benefit from bike lanes - so maybe shows some demand for facilities.  North-south connectivity is a problem everywhere here.

All in all, the data requires interpretation, and needs to be supplemented with first-hand experience or other descriptive data. 

But surely it's better than nothing!


Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

added downtown detail clip

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

updated with new info from bikeportland