Citizen science and the potential for mobility policy – Introducing the Bike Barometer

Paper by Tom Storme et al: “In this paper, we report on a citizen science pilot project involving adolescents who digitize and assess their daily home-to-school routes in different school neighborhoods in Flanders (Belgium). As part of this pilot project, a web-based platform, called the “Bike Barometer” (“Fietsbarometer” in Dutch) was developed. We introduce the tool in this paper and summarize the insights gained from the pilot. From the official launch of the platform in March until the end of the pilot in June 2020, 1,256 adolescents from 31 schools digitized 5657 km of roads, of which 3,750 km were evaluated for cycling friendliness and safety. The added value and potential of citizen science in general and the platform in particular are illustrated. The results offer detailed (spatial) insights into local safety conditions for Flanders and for specific school neighborhoods. The potential for mobility policy is twofold: (i) the cycling friendliness and traffic flows in school environments can be monitored over time and (ii) the platform has the potential to create local ecosystems of adolescents and teachers (both considered citizen scientists here) and policymakers. Two key pitfalls are identified as well: the need for a critical mass of citizen scientists and a minimum level of commitment required from local policymakers. By illustrating the untapped potential of citizen science, we argue that the intersection between citizen science and local policymaking in the domain of mobility deserves much more attention….(More)”.