The usefulness of GPS bicycle tracking data for evaluating the impact of infrastructure change on bicycling behaviour

Heesch, Kristiann & Langdon, Michael (2016) The usefulness of GPS bicycle tracking data for evaluating the impact of infrastructure change on bicycling behaviour. Health Promotion Journal of Australia, 27(3), pp. 222-229.

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Issue addressed

  • A key strategy to increase active travel is the construction of bicycle infrastructure. Tools to evaluate this strategy are limited. This study assessed the usefulness of a smartphone GPS tracking system for evaluating the impact of this strategy on behavioural outcomes.


  • Bicycling usage data were collected from Queenslanders who used a GPS tracking app on their smartphone in 2013-2014. ‘Heat’ and volume maps of the data were reviewed, and GPS bicycle counts were compared with surveillance data and bicycle counts from automatic traffic monitoring devices.


  • Heat maps broadly indicated changes in bicycling near infrastructure improvements. Volume maps provided changes in counts of cyclists due to these improvements although errors were noted in GIS geocoding of some GPS data. Large variations in cyclists’ use of the app across different cycling locations were evident. This variation limited the use of the GPS data for assessing differential changes in bicycling across locations.


  • Smartphone GPS data are best for evaluating the impact of infrastructure improvement in one location. GPS data are problematic for making inferences about differential changes in bicycling across locations without sufficient numbers of traffic monitoring devices being available for triangulating GPS data with bicycle traffic count data. So what? Smartphone GPS data can supplement existing data sources for evaluating changes in bicycling around a location in a transport network. These data are recommended for use in combination with existing data sources to improve our understanding of the influence of built environment change on cycling behaviour.

Impact and interest:

1 citations in Scopus
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1 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 97516
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: bicycle, physical activity, exercise, evaluation, built environment
DOI: 10.1071/HE16032
ISSN: 1036-1073
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Public Health & Social Work
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2016 Australian Health Promotion Association
Deposited On: 19 Jul 2016 23:22
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2017 15:39

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