VivaCity, a UK based transport AI company, have released a new product to support UK councils in their efforts to increase uptake in Active Travel as the public begins to return to work during the COVID-19 crisis.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and the Department of Transport have outlined measures that they wish councils to review as early as possible to facilitate increases in Active Travel. The Secretary of State has also said that Authorities should monitor and evaluate any temporary measures they install, with a view to making them permanent, and embedding a long-term shift to active travel as we move from restart to recovery.
VivaCity’ award-winning artificial intelligence technology anonymously captures, classifies and tracks live transport usage, 24/7. During lockdown, VivaCity’s sensor data has often been quoted as a reliable source by much of the mainstream media. Crucially, VivaCity’s technology is highly reliable at gathering data on cycling, walking, and social distancing – all critical components of the government’s exit strategy.
Now, VivaCity has released a new product, allowing authorities to not only count cyclists, but also to understand the interaction patterns, such as dangerous undertaking manoeuvres or cyclists using pavements, which enables authorities to improve safety for cyclists – one of the biggest impediments to more people using bicycles to get around.
In addition, VivaCity can shine a light on behaviour at complex junctions. By examining the number of cyclists and other vehicles using junctions from different directions, authorities can improve their understanding of how cyclists are using the existing infrastructure, supporting future improvements. This product uses the same underlying video analytics technology as autonomous vehicles to really understand what is happening on the roads, extracting deep but anonymous insight into behaviour patterns.
VivaCity has developed this new product as a result of working with authorities across the country for a number of years. CEO Mark Nicholson explains:
“We have installed sensors for cycling with authorities from Oxford to Cambridge, London to Manchester. However, the holy grail of understanding not just counts of cyclists but also behaviours, interactions, and turning movements has always been just out of reach. With this new tool becoming available now, authorities can plan safety interventions much more effectively”.
A well measured active travel policy has real-world health and economic impact, as Public Health England outlined in their recently published briefing document, which suggests that whilst motorised road transport has a role in supporting the economy, a rebalancing of our travel system is very much needed:
• Physical inactivity directly contributes to 1 in 6 deaths in the UK and costs £7.4 billion a year to business and wider society
• The growth in road transport has been a major factor in reducing levels of physical activity and increasing obesity
• Building walking or cycling into daily routines are the most effective ways to increase physical activity
• Short car trips (under 5 miles) area prime area for switching to active travel and to public transport
• Health-promoting transport systems are pro-business and support economic prosperity. They enable optimal travel to work with less congestion, collisions, pollution and they support a healthier workforce
Councils all over the country have been benefiting from VivaCity’s technology, with projects ranging from monitoring of air quality and active travel uptake in Manchester through to pedestrian and cyclist intervention outside schools in Bournemouth, to name but a few. VivaCity have even helped the redesign of road junction into a mini ‘Holland style’ roundabout providing cyclists with priority in Cambridge.
It is important to highlight that VivaCity sensors do not collect personal data.
Projects to support active travel can be simple and highly effective, with VivaCity lending their vast experience to help councils deliver swift but sustainable impact, with the minimum of distraction at this challenging time. Please go to www.vivacitylabs.com/urgentactivetravel for more information on what can be done, including guidance on how to fund such projects.