Green paper: Cycling and Walking Data

How do cities collect data on walking and cycling? What do they do with that data? And what are the possibilities for the future? We explored and documented this in the Green Paper "Walking and Cycling Data: Practice, Challenges, Needs, and Gaps." We give a brief summary here, and you can download the complete document at the bottom of this page.

This year, in collaboration with the mobility department of the City of Ghent, we participated in a steering group with the aim of writing a Green Paper for the European Commission on walking and cycling data. It is a document that aims to inform policymakers, stimulate discussion on this topic and elevate its position on the agenda. We wrote the paper in collaboration with the international research firm Ramboll and various partners from the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark.

We investigated the walking and cycling data that cities collect and the challenges they face. We explored how this data can best be used. Furthermore, we inquired about data that is not currently collected but could be interesting. All this information was gathered by means of questionnaires and in-depth interviews with various European and non-European cities, data-source mapping and benchmarking, and interviews with walking and cycling experts.

The importance of data

Qualitative and quantitative data are essential for policymakers to...

  • Set goals that are both ambitious and realistic
  • Monitor progress in achieving these goals
  • Make responsible investments
  • Secure funding for these investments

The current lack of data

Data on how pedestrians and cyclists move is not systematically collected, as is generally the case for car and public-transport use.

Surveys and in-depth interviews with various cities reveal that one-third of the surveyed government agencies do not collect bike data, and a staggering two-thirds do not collect walking data. This aligns with the finding that cycling and walking often occupy the lower rungs of the mobility hierarchy, despite being fundamental modes of transportation for a significant portion of the population. Many government agencies, therefore, face significant challenges.

Moreover, due to the lack of established standards, difficulties often arise in terms of the quality, validity, and comparability of the available data.

What data to collect and how

How to collect relevant data

  • Develop standards for walking and cycling data to ensure quality, validity, and comparability.
  • Choose sources based on what you need, not just what is available.
  • Gain sufficient knowledge about the strengths, limitations, and biases of different sources.
  • Collect both quantitative and qualitative data.
  • Capture the numbers of walkers and cyclists, map their routes, and assess their satisfaction.
  • Combine different types of sources.
  • Collect data over an extended period to track changes.

Essential bike data to track


  • The number of cyclists
  • Modal split (ideally for the number of trips, different distances, and various trip durations)
  • The purpose of cycling trips

All this data is best collected by gender, age, and other demographic characteristics.


  • The number of injuries and fatalities in cycling accidents
  • The risk factor: the number of accidents relative to the number of rides


  • The cycling network: length, status, and quality
  • Bike parking: number, locations, capacity, and quality
  • Public transport: accessibility, bike parking provided, first- and last-mile solutions


  • Cyclist satisfaction with infrastructure, parking, facilities, and policies
  • An overview of where experiences are positive and where they are not
  • Understanding of those who do not cycle and why

All this data is best collected by gender, age, physical abilities, and income class.


  • Health benefits
  • Economic benefits
  • Environmental benefits
  • Benefits for noise reduction


Recommendations for a good cycling and walking policy

  • Consider walking and cycling as equal modes of transportation, similar to travel by car and public transportation.
  • Include walking and cycling as separate modes in strategic mobility plans.
  • Set measurable objectives for walking and cycling.
  • Collect walking and cycling data to develop policies that can achieve established goals.
  • Use data to formulate walking and cycling policy plans.
  • Use data to secure funding for walking and cycling.
  • Use collected data to evaluate the effects of walking and cycling measures.

Cycling Data City of Ghent

Here you can view some information collected by the City of Ghent:


Want to know more? Read the full Green Paper here: 

Last modified
Thu 23 Nov 2023