Cyclists look for clean and tranquil path on major commuting routes


Many cyclists use the same path every morning and evening to commute from home to work. They are interested in the quality of the air they breathe. The IDEA project provides them with the equipment, the know-how and the software to map the quality of the air on their route as well as on alternative routes they might try out. Several platforms have been used in the demonstrator including black carbon offline monitoring, black carbon and noise combined life monitoring, etc.

The collaborative effort of several cyclists could lead to an inventory of air quality and noise quality on major cycling routes that will be displayed on the IDEA website and/or on the website of the participating organisations. This approach is demonstrated in the IDEA project in collaboration with the Gents MilieuFront.


IDEA’s innovation and strengths

IDEA developed methods and software to collect the data and to process them into air quality and noise maps. This is based on intensive trials to assess street-level variability in air quality using bike measurements. The approach is unique since it allows to obtain concentrations and levels exactly there where cyclist normally are while participating in traffic.

The data processing infrastructure used has a lot in common with the one used for the air quality measurements by the city employees. The key difference is the more structured way air quality data is collected. While city employees ‘randomly’ walk and bike through the city, as their job requires, our bikers conduct the measurements with a fixed routine. No measurements are conducted with other ways of transportation (on foot, bus, car, …) and no one enters a building during measurements. Volunteers conduct measurements each day at around the same time in the same streets, according to their daily habits.  This way of data collection will allow us to construct reliable air quality maps of their biking routes, in a scientific sound way.

An additional strength of IDEA comes from proxy monitoring. By carefull analysis of spectral noise data a first indication can be given of the black carbon concentration along the route. Once sufficient combined air pollution and noise measurements have been for a given area, cheaper noise measurements can give quite accurate estimates of the black carbon concentration: the correlation between modelled and measured BC concentrations surpasses 80%.


Detailed description of the demonstrator

Cyclists conduct repeatedly the same biking trip on the same hour (e.g. during their commute to work). During those biking trips air quality measurements (and in some cases noise spectra) are collected in a structured manner.

Starting from the last week of September, volunteers of the Gents MilieuFront conduct black carbon measurements during their daily biking trips. Periodically the air quality measurements collected are transmitted to the IDEA back-end infrastructure for further data processing. Based on the collected air quality measurements, an up-to-date air quality map will be constructed of the cycling routes used frequently by the volunteers.





Prof. Dr. Ir. Dick Botteldooren
+32 (0) 9 264 99 68

Technologiepark-Zwijnaarde 126, 9052 Gent



©IDEA-Project 2009