Building a robust cycle monitoring network for Cambridgeshire

Our recent data story on what we already know about cycling in and around Cambridge offerered a strong indication that the Greater Cambridge Partnership's investment in cycling could well return significant benefits.

In order to fully evaluate investments and maintain a full understanding of cycle movements across Cambridge (and Cambridgeshire as a whole) a robust network of cycle monitors is required. Currently, this monitoring is delivered through a network of Automatic Traffic Counters (ATC). The physical locations of these existing counters have been published via Cambridgeshire Insight Open Data here and can be previewed in the map below.

The problem faced locally though is that our network of counters is a legacy system with dated technology (fixed loops and old style modems). The age of the technology, in place since 2001, dictates that the counters are prone to failure and do not always provide accurate counts. To show the current volumes of movement across the different counters in the network and the gaps in data due to technology failures, we have published an open data set of seven day average counts for all counters across 2018.

This open data release will form part of a series of data releases around the data extracted from these ATCs. Now that we have established exactly where there are gaps in the data through this initial release, the next phase of the series will look to maximise the use of what data is available for extraction, whilst reiterating a need for strong investment in the network.

Moving forward, Cambridgeshire County Council are working to overcome this problem in the local data offer by trialling new remote sensors with updated technology. The trial will take place over the early summer 2019 and will be based around monitoring the impact of temporary changes to Mill Road.

The precise physical locations for a new network of sensors is yet to be decided and engagement with local stakeholders will take place. This conversation will be guided by the location of existing counters (replacing old for new), the need to monitor and evaluate the impact of existing or future interventions and the desire to know more about cycle flows in those parts of the city or county where knowledge is currently limited.

For now, users are encouraged to review the current locations of the ATC sites and assess the suitability of the existing locations as a review of the network design begins to take place. The series of data releases will provide the opportunity to challenge what we know about cycle movements across Cambridge but also challenge the appropriateness and effectiveness of the network.

The new open data provides an understanding of cycle movements across the most reliable counters within the existing network .  To help build on the insight from the initial data release a daily count from a 'typical' month has also been provided for all counters across the network.The release of daily counts for June 2018 can be downloaded here. This month was selected as it was a point in the year when the most counters were working due to maintenance schedules, the weather was generally good and the month lay within University term time.

Preview of 2018 Open Data release, full dataset available here.

If you have any specific questions or comments relating to this Open Data release, please contact