Strava App Used in Perth Bicycle Riding Research

Strava Cycling App

Researchers at Edith Cowan University (ECU) have used data captured via bicycle riders using the Strava phone app in Perth in 2013. Apparently 30% of Perth bicycle riders use Strava to record their rides. This is around 60,000 of the 200,000 cycling trips captured by electronic bicycle counters (in paths) in 2013, so a pretty decent sample in my view.

Strava App Records Busiest Perth Roads

Apparently the post popular roads for Perth bicycle riders are:

  1. Hackett Drive with 155,000 bicycle movements;
  2. Curtin Avenue with 146,000 bicycle movements;
  3. Mill Point Road with 133,000 bicycle movements;
  4. Kings Park Avenue with 119,000 bicycle movements and
  5. Melville Beach Road with 103,000 bicycle movements.

What is of interest from this study is that it highlights what are considered by bicycle riders to be the better routes and hence ones that should be subject to quality infrastructure upgrades.

This is a point made by ECU School of Natural Sciences Lecturer Dr Dave Blake who said the project found that many cyclists preferred to use roads even when cycle paths ran along similar routes.

Dr Blake then is quoted in the ECU media release as saying

“However, cyclists choosing quieter back roads are still at risk. Often these roads are not suitable for bike traffic as they can be narrow, filled with parked cars and can actually be quite hazardous.

“MacRae Road in Applecross is one example of this; it runs adjacent to the much busier Canning Highway but a large number of accidents involving cyclists have been recorded in recent years on what is a short stretch of road.”

Canning Highway - Strava App - ECU

Canning Highway

Well Dr Blake seems to have a problem grasping the difference between Canning HIGHWAY (yes it is a high volume four lane road WITHOUT any bicycle infrastructure in the area of Macrae Road whereas Macrae Road is a relatively quiet alternative with traffic calming in place. That is one road is suitable for motor vehicles whereas the other one is much more favourable to bicycles, a human-powered vehicle.

Macrae Road - Strava App - ECU

Macrae Road

Maybe the higher incidents of bicycle crashes Dr Blake refers to is reflective of the higher usage of Macrae Road. I would hate to think what the crash rates would be like on Canning Highway if there was a similar volume of bicycle riders.

Whilst I believe this study is informative and contributes to our understanding preferred bicycle routes, it is clear that researchers such as Dr Blake really needs to get a better understanding of cycling in Perth before trying to interpret the results.

3 Responses to Strava App Used in Perth Bicycle Riding Research

  1. Geraldine Box 4 March 2015 at 9:40 AM #

    Indeed cyclists choose to ride on quieter roads which may run parallel or near to major roads with cycling lanes. The reasons are many: high vehicle flow on major roads, high flow of heavy transports, speed is above the 50km/h, the legal speed on residential streets, less exposure to pollution from dense traffic. I could go on. However, a further aspect is to be found in the very nature of why so many of us use a bicycle as transport rather than a vehicle: we are not travelling in a metal cocoon, isolated from the environment around us; whilst we cycle we use all our senses both to ensure we are aware of our surrounds for safety purposes but also so that we can appreciate the surrounding environment. We make very little noise and do not directly contribute to polluting the environment through which we cycle. This is surely a major reason why we may at times choose to cycle on residential streets, which sometimes make the journey longer.

  2. Philip 5 March 2015 at 9:37 AM #

    I’m still to read the paper, but the sample set does seem to be incredibly self selecting. The sample will be hugely skewed towards those riding for leisure, at speed and usually in pelatons. No one downloads Strava and then runs it for a trip to the shops, school or train station. I’d treat this paper with a huge pinch of salt when looking at infrastructure provision.

  3. Greg 18 March 2015 at 5:48 PM #

    Hi Philip. I use strava to keep track of my daily cycling commutes to and from work. I have not recorded a recreational ride for some time.

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