CykloRank Czechia 2023: Top cities for cyclists

Publikováno: 30. října. 2023, 10 min. čtení
Aktualizováno: 28. října. 2023
Publikováno: 30. října. 2023, 10 min. čtení
Aktualizováno: 28. října. 2023

In collaboration with the ‚Bike to Work‘ challenge and the ‚Plzeň on a Bike‘ association, CykloRank releases a ranking of cities based on the quantity of their cycling infrastructure. All 127 Czech cities with more than 10,000 inhabitants are ranked in the list according to the number of cycle paths, bike lanes, and paths shared with pedestrians.

The ranking also includes all cities participating in the ‚Bike to Work‘ challenge. A special algorithm awards the most points for the safest infrastructure, namely dedicated cycle paths. Cities also receive positive points for designated and undesignated bike lanes, bike racks, bike boxes, and pedestrian zones where cycling is allowed. With a lower weight, bus lanes allowing bike traffic and sharrows are also considered in the Czech CykloRank. The data is based on OpenStreetMap.org, which serves as the basis for the Městem na kole map.

The inspiration for the Czech CykloRank ranking was an Estonian study and script, used by Mihkel Lumiste to compare the cycling infrastructure of European cities. We adapted and modified the code to better reflect Czech reality.

Starting from this year, CykloRank is also incorporated into the ‚Bike to Work‘ challenge data as part of the assessment for the ‚Bike-Friendly City Bike to Work‘ category. The aim of the CykloRank ranking is to provide a fresh perspective on the state of cycling infrastructure in individual Czech cities. This perspective is designed to be as easily reproducible as possible, free from subjective judgments, and inclusive of as many cities as possible.

Our motivation is to provide a basic overview of the length and quality of cycling infrastructure in Czech cities based on OpenStreetMap data. We know that the length of infrastructure is generally related to the popularity of cycling transportation, and we also know that the presence of cycle paths is associated with increased safety, which can be another factor influencing the popularity of cycling as a means of transportation. Therefore, we find it interesting to see how Czech cities compare in terms of the length and quality of their cycling infrastructure.

 

Methodology

The Czech CykloRank ranking adopts the original concept and script and slightly adjusts it to local conditions. In particular, we have added some types of infrastructure and adjusted the weight of different types of measures for cyclists. The resulting ranking then sorts individual cities based on the proportion of the length of cycling infrastructure to the total length of their street network. Different types of infrastructure are given different weights in this calculation.

Cycle paths and dedicated bike lanes received the most points.

To simplify the weighting of different types of infrastructure, we assigned a value of 1.0 to each meter of cycle paths, pedestrian and cycling paths, and dedicated bike lanes. We made the same decision for the evaluation of cycling streets, pedestrian zones with bicycle access, and bike boxes. Each meter of legalized sidewalks and advisory bike lanes received a value of 0.5. Bus lanes accessible to cyclists were assigned a weight of 0.2. Although we do not consider bus lanes a priori as cycling infrastructure, we decided to acknowledge, with this rating, cities that legalize bus lanes for cycling, which is not always a given in the Czech Republic. In some cities, cyclists are still required to ride to the left of lanes reserved for public transportation buses. The same weight of 0.2 was given to each meter of sharrow corridors. If there was a directive to walk the bike in a certain section of cycling infrastructure, we did not include that section and it received a weight of 0.

You can find the final version of the script on the ‚Plzeň na kole‘ association’s GitHub. It should be noted that the quality (weight) of different types of infrastructure is a subject of potential endless discussion, especially when one considers that a separated cycle path can vary from being an almost impassable sidewalk interrupted every few meters by a side street (but marked as a cycle path) to relatively luxurious dedicated infrastructure that is a pleasure to ride on. Both can be indicated on the ground and on the map in exactly the same way. At times, an advisory bike lane may have a relatively luxurious width and quality compared to an old dedicated bike lane created according to older, less strict standards.

There was also a discussion about whether it makes sense to assign different weights to different measures in the Czech context. However, as part of the future support for the creation of higher-quality measures it was eventually decided to introduce a certain stratification of the evaluation of the quality of different measures .

What to improve for the future

The CykloRank is not perfect yet, and it probably will never be 100% objective. We cannot determine the quality of surfaces or the details of cycling measures from the data. Moreover, the methodology counts the quantity of cycling infrastructure, not its connectivity. For example, Prague has a comparably good looking total length of pedestrian and cycling paths, but they are very disconnected in some places. We are already considering how to improve the CykloRank ranking for next year. Evaluating the network’s connectivity could be an additional criterion that we would like to include in the future.

We are also aware that there are some distortions in the evaluation. For example, we are almost entirely unable to adequately capture roads marked as closed to motor vehicles. Some cities for various reasons use this sign to indicate infrastructure built to support cycling, but in other cases, it refers to roads that have nothing to do with real cycling infrastructure. In the end, we decided not to include these roads, even though some cities lost some sections of their „cycle paths“ as a result. Overall, including them would lead to the overall results being rather unusable. Similarly, we decided not to include various forest trails for mountain bikes. The ranking aims to evaluate infrastructure primarily built for transportation use.

CykloRank also serves as an incentive for updating OSM data

City size can be another distorting factor. Some cities have a fairly extensive forested area around the built-up area, while others are relatively compact, with their boundaries closely following the built-up area. This can, of course, affect the total length of the street network and thus the overall proportions of cycling infrastructure compared to the street network.

In some cities, the results may also be influenced by outdated data. If you know of cycle paths or bike lanes that are not in the ‚Městem na kole‘ map, please let us know, and they will be included in the next CykloRank. The more daring can update the infrastructure in OpenStreetMap themselves. We are aware that OpenStreetMap data may not always be 100% accurate. The ranking itself can be seen as a challenge to get involved in mapping cycling infrastructure in the OpenStreetMap.

The CykloRank Czechia ranking will be updated at least once a year. The results will reflect the development of cycling infrastructure in Czech cities, and it will be interesting to see how Czech cities will outperform each other on the ranking as cycling infrastructure continues to develop.

A more detailed analysis of the results

You can look forward to a more detailed analysis of the results in the next article. Which cities have the highest proportion of separated cycle paths? Where, on the other hand, do bike lanes dominate? And which cities have the most bike racks per square kilometer?

This is an adjusted ChatGPT translation of this article: https://mestemnakole.cz/2023/10/cyklorank-cesko-2023/

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