Interactive Bike App

Summary

This project is designed to facilitate and increase the share of cycling in Tehran’s daily travels by using smart technologies. Due to the increase of the congested traffic hours in the city, increasing the share of bicycles will lead to lower levels of carbon emission as well as fewer traffic jams and enhance the health and livability status of the citizens.

Providing the app facilitating cyclists in way-finding and stimulating the cycling trend by awarding and gathering massive amounts of data are two important impacts of the project. The aforementioned data is further processed to derive policy-relevant information in order to find necessary and effective enhancements of bicycle infrastructure in the city. The main functionalities of the app are the following:

A) Way-finding and Routing

The feature will be developed to be adaptable based on personal needs in four main categories: Fast, Attractive, Easy, and Safe.

B) Tracing

By the options, users can view their journey summary. These summaries can help the citizen to manage her/his use of the bicycle in different routes.

C) Campaigns

It is about the campaigns and events that encourage people to cycle more. Options for this part are unlimited.

Background and objectives

Increasing the use of the bicycle to complete trips on public transport and in other words, increasing the share of cycling in public transport is a necessity in Tehran. In fact, the increase of the congested traffic hours in the city has been led to high levels of carbon emission as well as traffic jams which consequently have had adverse effects on citizens’ health and environment. So this project is designed to facilitate cycling in Tehran in order to decrease car traffic and enhance the health and livability status of the citizens while saving the environment. This project is aligned with the “Car-Free Tuesdays” Campaign which is a large initiative sponsored by Tehran Mayor and is vastly promoted all around the city. This project properly uses GPS technology, together with smartphone applications to deliver a variety of services such as way-finding and routing, tracing, a map highlighting bike stations or shops, gamification, etc. In the recent months that the essence of confronting the spread of coronavirus requires respecting the social distancing, the share of using bike has been doubled.

The project’s main goal is to create a transport modal shift from using personal vehicles to cycling for local destinations. As a whole, the main objectives are as follows:

•   Increasing citizens’ well-being

•   Decreasing traffic jam and better traffic management and lowering carbon emission

•   Developing human-centric urban mobility systems

•    Implementing social distancing in the era of COVID-19 outbreak and stay safe

Implementation

The following actions have been taken in order to implement the project and increase the share of the bicycle in the transportation system:

  1. Developing bike lanes: In order to promote the culture of cycling and create an appropriate platform for the development of clean transportation in Tehran, Municipality has developed specific cycling routes in the city. Almost 600 km of new cycling routes in Tehran have been developed so far in 2020.
  2. Campaigns: In order to attract public participation in the use of bicycles, various campaigns such as “Car-free Tuesdays”, “Safar-e Eshgh”, “Naqsh-e Charkh” and “Rekaab & Ketaab”.
    1. “Car-Free Tuesdays” campaign which is sponsored and promoted by Tehran Mayor himself, has encouraged lots of people to use bicycles more.

  • Another campaign that has been implemented recently by Tehran Municipality is “Safar-e Eshgh”. The municipality organized the campaign alongside Muharram and Safar (1st and 2nd months of the Islamic calendar) religious ceremonies. Each cyclist should ride more than 960 km equal to the distance between Tehran and Karbala. The top 10 cyclists will be awarded the travel allowance for a trip to Karbala (a Muslim religious city in Iraq). Also, one top cyclist is selected as a top cyclist who wins the special award.
    • “Rekaab and Ketaab” (Book & Bike) is a competition in order to promote cycling and book reading among citizens in Tehran.
  • Bike Sharing: Shared bicycle service provision is another point of action taken to facilitate access to clean transportation. In this regard, “Bdood” start-up, in cooperation with Tehran Municipality, has provided bike-sharing services with around 4k daily trips.

  • Interactive Bike Application (Docharkhe): Another project was done to promote the use of bicycles in Tehran an application called Docharkhe (the Farsi translation for Bike). This project properly uses GPS technology, together with smartphone applications to deliver a variety of services such as way-finding and routing, tracing, highlighting bike stations or shops on the city map, social network, facilitation of sending urban problem reports to the municipality, etc. The project’s fundamental infrastructure is the location-based data layers that are already available and continually updated at the Municipality’s Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI).

For the case of the project “Interactive Bike App”, the networking ability of the leadership led to a partnership with the “MoveMobility” group in the Netherlands. The “MoveMobility” is an expert group that has numerous bike app development projects in many countries. Furthermore, creating a user-friendly app requires local knowledge regarding the citizens’ preferences and demands. Therefore, a contract was signed with a local company called Rajman. The company has already developed a way-finding and tracking system in Iran/Tehran.

The time schedule of developing the app is as follows:

Time Schedule Action
July 2019 Selecting brand and logo
December 2019 Unveiling “Interactive Bike Application” in 3rd Smart Tehran Congress
June 2020 The public release of the Android version of the mobile app coincided with World Bicycle Day
September 2020 Public release of the iOS version of the mobile app coincided with World Car Free Day
From Winter 2020 to Winter 2021 To roll out and develop the app

Results and impacts: List any statistical data or anecdotal information on results or impacts achieved for the project/program/policy. (max. 250 words).

The project’s main goal is to create a transport modal shift from using personal vehicles to cycling for local destinations. The goal seems much more realizable, especially, in the recent months that confronting the coronavirus outbreak which requires respecting the social distancing. The statistics show that the share of using bike has been doubled. Now cycling mode share in Tehran is about 0.8% and is planned to reach 0.9% by the end of 2021 Q1. Reducing electric and energy consumption and thus, reducing pollution and promoting a healthier lifestyle are the direct impacts of the project’s success.

Some of its statistical data are as follows (from June to December 2020):

  • Registered users: more than 5800
  • 3% of the users: female
  • 97% of the users: male
  • 17% of the users: under the age of 15
  • 25% of the users: between the age of 20 and 30
  • 45% of the users: between the age of 30 and 45
  • 13% of the users: above the age of 45

As a whole, under the various actions and plans for increasing share of the bike, the city has created 600km of cycle paths, 200 bike stations, and sharing 2K smart bikes, besides new tech capacity building. It is expected that every 1000 km of cycling leads to reduce petrol consumption and CO2 emission about 70 liters and 210 km/gr per cyclist, respectively.

Barriers and challenges

Lacking the bicycle routes and the infeasibility of creating such routes due to the safety measures are among the most significant challenges. Moreover, the city’s slope in the south to the north paths is another considerable challenge. These kinds of challenges have led the project directors to go towards finding solutions like providing suggested routes to the cyclist through the online application.

Some other barriers are as follows:

  • Low-speed internet in some parts of the metropolitan area
  • Lack of offline services on the present version of the software
  • Shortage of secure bike routes
  • Lack of bicycle parking rack
  • Impossibility of carrying the bicycle on public transport vehicles such as buses

Lessons learned and transferability

Tehran is the largest megacity in west Asia and MENA region, and knowing that the smart city market is an untapped market throughout the region, the lessons learned from such smart city projects implementation at Tehran can be considered as a valuable benchmark for other cities within the region.

The project generates great value in comparison to its costs, and the actual conditions represent the city’s readiness to accept the project.

  • Supporting cheaper and healthier traveling options
  • Low app development costs, noting the availability of required datasets
  • Effective social distancing

The most important elements that the cities have to meet in order to benefit from such type of project are as follows: considering the technical issues like properly constructing, the back-end and front-end of the mobile app and developing the requirements for converting GPS data to anonymous route/speed information needed for traffic analysis that any city can capture and put in its bike app development project.

The project properly made use of GPS technology, together with smartphone applications which led to a large scale of users, especially in the recent months that confronting the coronavirus outbreak requires respecting the social distancing. Also, the project is mainly stimulated by licensing the service provision by Tehran Municipality to the private third party.

Awards

It should be noted that Interactive Bike App has entered different international competitions to share its experience with the world. Indeed, it was selected as the winner of the Special Mention in the Mobility Category in the 4th WeGo Awards, 2020.

Also, every year at the European Mobility Week event, one or two non-European cities are picked as the “top” in the field of urban mobility. Tehran was selected as the top one of 2020 because of its bicycle master plan.

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