SimRa: Safety in Bicycle Traffic

ECDF-Professor David Bermbach leads the Citizen Science project "SimRa: Safety in cycling" to collect information on “near accidents.” Like other metropolises worldwide, Berlin has been trying for some time to promote and expand cycling as a modern urban transportation concept. However, surveys show that the feeling of lack of safety in particular deters many people from switching from cars to bicycles. At the same time, it is difficult to obtain an overview of danger points in the city or the accumulation of particular hazards, because accident statistics do not record “near accidents” and, unlike cars, bicycles are typically not equipped with sensors that could provide such data for secondary use. The SimRa project collects data – with a data protection-compatible approach – on where in the city cyclists are exposed to accumulations of hazards, what these are, whether they occur frequently or locally, and where the main traffic flows by bicycle are concentrated. The project is developing a smartphone app to record routes; the app also uses acceleration sensors to detect dangerous situations such as sudden braking, avoiding a collision, or even a fall. After the ride, cyclists are asked to categorize and annotate the detected dangerous situations, to add any undetected dangerous situations, and to release an upload to the project server. In order to give the participants full control over their data at all times, all data are initially only recorded locally in the app. After the journey, the participants can view the recorded data and release them for upload, either in full or partially (e.g., only hazard data but no route data), completely anonymously or pseudonymized.

The data provide a comprehensive overview of bicycle traffic in Berlin, thus enabling unfavorable traffic flows or traffic lights to be detected and optimized. It makes using bicycles more attractive and safer in the medium term. The data obtained in the project will be evaluated jointly with partners from other specialist areas such as urban and regional planning, but also with the involvement of interested citizens, in order to achieve sustainable changes. The Berlin Senate Department for the Environment, Transport and Climate Protection will provide assistance during the evaluation process. David Bermbach is collaborating on the project with Jochen Rabe (Urban Resilience and Digitalization), Dr. Frank Pallas (Information System Engineering), and Helena Mihaljević (Data Science and Analytics). The project is funded by TU Berlin’s Citizen Science Initiative for three years (start: September 2018).