14 Jul 2014

Green Ring - get involved

You have until the end of this week to submit comments on Herts County Council's design proposals for four sections of the Green Ring:
D - Ladies Grove, Waverley Road and Everlasting Lane
E - Batchwood Drive and Harpenden Road
F - Boundary Road and Walton Street (and they have added a second option in this area)
G - Lemsford Road
H - Jennings Road, Woodstock Road

You have until Friday 8 August to comment on the other three HCC sections:
A - Hatfield Road and Sutton Road
B2 - Holywell Hill crossing
C - St Michael's, Branch Road, Verulam Road and Oysterfields

There are consultation sessions this week at St Albans District Council offices:
Tuesday 15th, 5.45pm to 8pm
Thursday 17th, 12.45pm to 4pm

STACC will be submitting a response, but we strongly encourage our members to make individual comments also.

All the information is available online, simplest way to access it is via SADC Green Ring webpage

3 Jul 2014

Big Herts Cycle Challenge

Anyone working in Hertfordshire is invited to Join the Fun between 30 June and 20 July.
Big Herts Cycle Challenge is a cycling promotion where workplaces  compete to see who can get the most people riding a bike.  Recruit workmates to ride a bike to climb up the leaderboard and win the Challenge.  People only need to cycle for 10 minutes, but more is OK! There are incentives and prizes.  Any business in Hertfordshire can register and see the results of the rides they log but only businesses registered in St Albans, Watford, Hemel Hempstead, Kings Langley, Abbotts Langley, Apsley, Bricket Wood and London Colney are eligible for prizes.
Unfortunately you have missed the St Albans city centre promotional event with smoothie bikes, BMX stunt displays and Brompton try-outs and more.  It happened today.  Fortunately, some STACC folk did find their way there, so the organisers now have a contact for the cycle campaign.
More info on www.bighertscyclechallenge.org.uk
and on http://www.lovetoride.net type in 'hertfordshire'

One of the 'more' things was Clearspace Buildings.  They make modular buildings, mainly for schools, but they have developed a modular cycle park and shower unit, with support from Rob Hayles, a famously innovative Olympic and World Champion cyclist.  The video on the website shows the unit installed at Watford General Hospital.  The units are proving popular - clients are wanting quality showers and cycle parking in their company buildings as it is something that helps in recruitment of staff.

16 Jun 2014

New Mayor takes office

St Albans City and District Council have announced that Cllr Geoff Harrison has been sworn in as Mayor, and Cllr Janet Churchard as Deputy Mayor.
STACC is delighted to note that the Mayor's CV includes the following 
"Whilst living in Yorkshire, the Mayor helped the charity Sustrans to develop several cycle paths across the county."

7 Jun 2014

Green Ring Consultation - IMPORTANT


Calling all STACC members - get commenting!  Consultation runs from 9 June to 18 July. 


As stated in the consultation material, in addition to the online consultation, HCC are undertaking public sessions for members, residents and business owners of St Albans to discuss the scheme with the designers. Please see below for the proposed dates to be held at the St Albans District Council offices;

·        Monday 30th June - 12.45pm to 4pm – Committee Room 1 Lower Ground Floor

·        Wednesday 2nd July - 5.45pm to 8pm – Committee Room 2 Lower Ground Floor

·        Tuesday 15th July - 5.45pm to 8pm – Committee Room 1 Lower Ground Floor

·        Thursday 17th July - 12.45pm to 4pm – Committee Room 3 Lower Ground Floor

Pleased to see that STACC gets a mention in the FAQs and a link to our Shared Paths leaflet.

Also note that there is currently a consultation on Young People's travel options (young = 16 - 18 yr olds)  https://consult.hertsdirect.org/16to18travel/
Sadly no sign of cycling but there is a comments box on the end, so please be active and add comments for all Schools and Colleges to have improved cycle access.

Particularly since we are now enjoying the Hertfordshire Year of Cycling

8 May 2014

Get a job in the local cycling industry

A message from Phil Rowe, St Albans bike businessman:

I’m looking for a full time cycle centre operations coordinator to work with me in St Albans but also have opportunities for cycle mechanics at various skill levels, working on an ad hoc basis.

By way of background I have been a STACC member since moving to St Albans in 2001  - I still live in Marshalswick - and used to be on the STACC Committee for a couple of years until work commitments prevented me from continuing.  I set up Cycle Experience in 2006 and we have grown to become one of the largest providers of cycle training and cycling promotion services in England and Wales with Bikeability clients including the London Boroughs of Harrow, Hounslow, Redbridge and Barnet, and further afield Slough, Windsor and Maidenhead, Bracknell Forest and Wokingham, Wigan, Shropshire CC, Sheffield City Council, Rotherham, Denbighshire  and Northumberland CC plus a few others.  In 2013 the business was sold to TTC Group who are based in Telford and specialise in driver education and training.

We have a base  - a cycle centre as we call it  – close to Morrisons on the Hatfield Road which houses around 150 bikes and related equipment used to support our various cycle training and cycling promotion activities in London, the south and south east more generally.  As the business has grown I now need someone full-time to help take on the operation of this facility and to run or support the running of Roadshows, Dr Bikes, Try Cycling Programmes, Learn to Balance and Ride sessions and so on.  The salary for this would be between £18k and £25k depending on age and experience.  They must be able to drive and ideally vehicles up to 7.5 tonnes which we do need from time to time.  If not Bikeability Instructors we would need them to become so  - we would provide the training – and they need to have the equivalent of Cytech Level 2.
In addition I’m also interested in anyone living fairly locally who had some reasonable level of cycle mechanic skills who could help service and maintain the bike fleet we have and do various other tasks that crop up, working on an ad hoc basis.  Pay varies from £8.00 per hour to £12.00 per hour depending on experience.

In the first instance if people could call me on 07941 061717 or email me, Phil@CycleExperience.com.  I have a Job Spec for the full-time post which I can send them.  I’ll be sending a similar message to the Verulam Cycling Club and other relevant organisations/networks including Sustrans and the CTC in the next few days but wanted to see if there was perhaps someone within the STACC network who might be right on the doorstep and just right for the job and Cycle Experience.

Best regards


Phil Rowe
Cycle Experience Limited (Part of the TTC Group)
Tel: 0845 434 8451
Mob: 07941 061717
Head Office:  Hadley Park East, Telford, Shropshire.  TF1 6QJ Email: Phil@CycleExperience.com
Web: www.CycleExperience.com

Pro bike racing this weekend in Welwyn


The bike racing season is upon us- The Giro starts inBelfast on Friday, but closer to home stage four of the Women's Tour finishes in Welwyn town centre on Saturday 10th May. This is a great opportunity to see elite women’s bike riders battling it out- you can go to the finish for the sprint and to enjoy the show that Herts County Council is putting on in Howardsgate or watch the Queen Of the Mountain climb up Digswell Hill a couple of miles before the finish.

Entertainment at Howardsgate starts at 10am with live bands, a continental market, Active Health Zone, Sponsor Zone, Women’s sport zone, Marketplace and the Tesco Demo area. Full details are on the Welwyn Hafieldcouncil website .

Digswell hill is here.

Getting to Welwyn is easy- around eight traffic free miles each way along the Alban Way and Welwyn bike routes, slightly less via Cooper’s Green Lane or Hatfield Road. If you have kids, take them!

Just for a moment, close your eyes and imagine what it would be like if we had a major race finishing in St Albans….

Mapping where you ride- big data for cyclists

How do you work out the routes cyclists take? If you ride locally a lot you can take a pretty good guess, but your perception will always be influenced by your daily routes and your riding preferences. Understanding cycle traffic is key to improving road conditions for people on bikes and suggesting improvements which actually work instead of the ones which traffic engineers think may benefit most people.

Logging the routes cyclists use is a time consuming task- it boils down to how record data from enough people over a long enough period to build a meaningful picture of what's going on. Logging can be done using traffic counts, questionnaires or by traffic counters but these methods give only a pinpoint view in terms of geography and time- traffic counts can't be done on more than a few points at once at a particular day, questionnaires generally don't hit a big enough sample and automated traffic counters are few and far between. Gathering all this data up from its various sources, manipulating, aligning and calculating takes a great deal of time and effort for those who produce it. 

Accessing the results as a member of the public can be really difficult since they're not all in the same place or, in some cases, published at all.

Big Data

As with so many things these days, the solution is to use a 'big data' approach- or, more accurately, get data from another source and do interesting things with it. The rise of smartphone apps has given us a great source of location data for cyclists from apps like Strava which use GPS to record your ride if the data is publicly available for people to do things with via an API. I lack the coding skills to build things using the API but some useful people have built some apps which do some interesting things.

But isn't Strava just used by MAMILs?

Mainly, yes. Some people (like me) record all their rides and some Mamils commute. Filtering the data selected by time, location and rider speeds will give a better view of utility/commuting cycling and a view of leisure/sporting cycling allows us to understand their most used routes and give a good feed for safety/development work. 

The principle is pretty much the same across all the apps- take some data from strava and map it using Google maps, which allows you to zoom in and out and change to a satellite view.

What's there now

 Individual heatmaps- analyse your own riding

Stava lets premium (ie paying) members build heatmaps of their activities. Unfortunately I don't have a premium app so I can't tell you about how this works!

Multiple ride mapper

 Strava multiple ride mapper  produces heatmaps based on one or more rider's rides, filtered by date. It's quite good but it would be difficult to build up a large enough sample of riders to make good local analysis easy.

Global Heatmaps- Mapping more than one user

 Strava have produced a global heatmap showing points reported by all users. 

Strava Global Heatmap

This lights up St Albans usage very nicely , showing in particular how much the Alban Way is used but also the most important routes connecting St Albans to local towns and leisure runs. We can get a lot of information out of this view, but the breakdown is a bit too coarse to make real strategic use.
Race Shape had a similar product, though the visual representation wasn’t quite as good as Strava's. This was available last week but today the page just points at Strava’s heatmap so I’m guessing Strava are capitalising on their data by removing access for other apps.

VeloViewer  lets you look at your own data in different ways and allows you to take a good look at segments so it could be useful if dedicated segments are set up to capture people at various points of interest.


Strava's Saturday project  recorded a 'typical Saturday' by the hour was a pretty good experiment showing lots of detail (here's how it was done but that's only a single day and it's still fairly coarse.

Give us what we want, what we really really want

Campaigners and planners need the ability to select journeys and users more accurately by time and place and process the information differently to make more sense of the data.

We need to be able to look at journeys at certain times of day and days of the week ('show all journeys within a 5 mile diameter of St Albans on a weekday between 6am and 9.30am' would pick out a lot of commute traffic) as would showing all journeys finishing at a particular location ('show me all journeys finishing within a 100 metre radius of St Albans station' would pick out journeys to the station) or all journeys passing through a location. 

The ability to pick out groups of users would be useful too ('where do rail commuters go when the aren't commuting to the train'), where do slower commuters go compared to faster commuters. Age/gender breakdowns would be really useful where the data is publically available. There are some data privacy issues here since we don't particularly want to publish maps which would hint at where people live, but there are ways to protect privacy)

As a starter for 10, here's what I'd like to play with

Journey data for all Strava bike rides starting or finishing within a 5km raidus of central St Albans, with riderid, journey id date, start and finish times. These can be either vectors or points- if points include speed at each point. (Ideally start and finish points to have a 50m resolution so that start/finish hotspots can be identified as there’s a link to cycle parking projects here too.) 

Anonymysed rider id with age and gender, including a rider id which links to journey data. If possible aggregated stats per rider on number of rides split by time, average speeds, total number of rides within the sample area, total number of rides outside the sample area.

Here’s what I’d do:

Commute time heatmap, weekday morning and evening showing an overall view, split out by any rider characteristics available done for Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter

Utility/leisure  heatmap- the remainder of the daytime weekly data split into morning, lunchtime and evening to identify any differences between routes use for commuting and routes used for utility/leisure done for Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.

Weekend heatmaps using the same idea as commute and utility, done for Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter

Site specific- look at trips to and from the railway stations, the market, Westminster lodge and any other hotpots. 

Time specific-slice out bank holidays, events in the park and city centre, etc to see if there are any changes.

Intercept- where do people passing through a specific are go? Look at points within the city like access points to the Alban Way, St Peter’s street, Verulamium park bike routes and work out how they fit into overall bike movements.


I started writing this post last week and time and Strava's business plans have caught up with me!

Strava today (8th May) said that have made their data available on a consultancy basis to London and Glasgow as well as some othercities This is great but it's done at commercial rates- Oregon is paying $20,000 for a year's access to data on 17,000 Strava users in Portland . There's a good report by Bike Portland on the project here 

Rates vary by the number of Strava users captured so St Albans/Hertfordshire should be fairly low- I have asked Strava for a sample and I'll ask HCC if they are interested too.