MDSS banner illustration by Megan Dillon

We’re excited to announce that we have chosen five awardees for the 2021 Mobility Data for Safer Streets (MDSS) initiative.

Building off the success of last year’s MDSS initiative, we asked applicants to submit collaborative proposals this year, in hopes of combining the expertise and resources of research institutions, city or county governments, and advocates to make it easier to leverage the robust set of data tools available through the initiative.

As part of our mission to help create 15-minute cities -- cities where all the things people need are available within 15-minutes by walking, biking, scooting, or public transit -- we have to make our streets safer and more inclusive for all. With MDSS, we want to give advocates, researchers, and planners the tools they need to collect and analyze data that will help them make the case for streets that are more sustainable, equitable, and safer for everyone. All of the participants will get access to two or more of these data tools to help their research:

  • StreetLight Data, which uses smartphones as sensors to measure vehicle, transit, bike, and foot traffic almost anywhere.
  • Numina, a tool that measures all kinds of curb-level activity like the volume counts, paths, and traffic behaviors of travelers and objects in streets, through use of aggregated, anonymized data. 
  • UrbanFootprint provides mapping tools and data-driven insights in urban planning, mobility, sustainability, policy making, healthcare, finance, and disaster preparedness to public agencies, private planning firms, enterprises, and academic institutions.
  • Kurb.io, a simple map-driven collaboration tool for cities, neighborhoods, businesses, and residents to get on the same page with how to use space.
  • Populus Mobility Manager, which provides access to better data insights from shared fleets of bikes, scooters, mopeds, and cars.
  • Ford Mobility’s Safety Insights Connect, a web-based tool that provides access to aggregated and de-identified connected vehicle events, including harsh braking, acceleration, and cornering events.

In addition to funding access to the data platforms and tools, Spin will offer ongoing support through the course of the program.  The evaluation of the program will be conducted by the Consumer Energy Interfaces (cEnergi) Lab at the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies with funding by Ford Mobility Research.

Here are the five partnerships we will be working with this year:

The University of Virginia Department of Urban and Environmental Planning and Arlington County’s Division of Transportation will team up on an ambitious project to collect and analyze data from Arlington County’s micromobility program, the largest in Virginia.

Their goal will be to answer important questions about how micromobility rides correlate to existing transit routes, how existing bike lanes and other infrastructure affect riders’ route choices, how to deepen equity offerings beyond deploying micromobility devices in historically underserved neighborhoods, and how to improve safety.

Their analysis, the team hopes, will help County staff create a more equitable transportation network especially as they develop Arlington County’s Master Transportation and Vision Zero plans.

Seattle Neighborhood Greenway (SNG) is planning to gather data about the City’s Keep Moving Streets initiative, which created open streets on arterials and alongside parks. While Seattle has committed to making the Stay Healthy Streets initiative -- open and slow streets on non-arterial roads -- permanent, the Keep Moving Streets initiative’s future is uncertain in part due to a lack of data related to how these streets are being used.

SNG wants to measure where people are coming from to use the City’s Keep Moving Streets to make the case for creating permanent new space for people to walk, bike, roll, and scoot next to two of Seattle’s most iconic parks: Alki Beach Park and Lake Washington Boulevard.

The Spatial Analytics and Visualization Center at San Jose State University (SAVi @ SJSU), The Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University (MTI), City of San José, Department of Transportation (SJDOT), San Jose Downtown Residents Association (SJDRA), and the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition (SVBC) are coming together like some transportation research supergroup.

They plan to look at San Jose’s Better Bikeways Program, implemented in Fall 2019. This program aims to use street redesign and traffic calming strategies to develop a 400-miles, city-wide micromobility network, focusing on equity and safety. The improved infrastructure is designed to encourage people to shift away from always driving to biking, scooting, or walking.

The question this group wants to answer is: is it working, for whom, and what impact is the plan having on residents’ well-being?

Morgan State University Schools of Engineering and Architecture & Planning will team up with nonprofits Bikemore and Central Maryland Transportation Alliance to analyze multimodal transportation use and economic activity along two recently redesigned corridors in Baltimore City: North Avenue Rising and Hamilton-Lauraville Main Street Redesign.

North Avenue Rising, slated to be finished later this year, brings dedicated bus lanes, sidewalk improvements, bike lanes, bike facilities, traffic calming, and enhanced bus stops to a nearly five-mile corridor.

As part of the Hamilton-Lauraville Main Street project, traffic calming measures, pedestrian safety improvements, protected bike lanes, and floating bus stops were installed.

This group wants to look at the impact on traffic numbers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit these changes had, as well as how they may have affected economic activity.

City of Omaha Parking & Mobility Division, Mode Shift Omaha, Creighton University Social Science Datalab, and Heartland Bike Share will join forces to measure the impact of a new two-way protected bikeway that connects Omaha’s Midtown and Downtown areas along Harney Street. The hope here is that the data will help make the case for permanent installation and expansion of the city’s protected bike infrastructure. This group will also analyze changes in pedestrian traffic in relation to bus stops along the Omaha Rapid Bus Transit (ORBT) route before and after deployment of the new system.

We were humbled by the number and quality of the entries we received for this year’s MDSS initiative. It makes us hopeful to know that so many people are working to make their communities safer and more equitable places to move through and we only regret that we can’t work with all the teams who submitted ideas. But the popularity and success of this initiative lay the groundwork for future collaborations.

We look forward to working with the five groups this year and are excited to share the results of their work.

Learn more about Spin Streets initiatives or get in touch with us here.