Spokespeople: helping cyclists record incidents on the road

Digital Health

Collaborators Space for Gosforth, Newcastle Cycling Campaign


Testing a simpler way of reporting cycling incidents on the move.


An integrated reporting system of low-cost Bluetooth buttons and an Android application for cyclists on the move.


Spokespeople was used with community groups in Newcastle to help make cycling around the city safer and easier.

Just 2% of Newcastle residents cycle to work - and with barriers such as safety and a lack of infrastructure, it’s not hard to see why.

Researchers sought to change this, by looking into how digital technology and data can help make cycling in Newcastle a better experience.

Spokespeople is a digital system for cyclists that makes it simple to record incidents and experiences while riding their bikes. The system consists of a low-cost Bluetooth button mounted on bike handlebars, and an app that allows people to describe their experiences of the route they’ve just taken. The mapping software is built on Make Place, an open-source mapping system developed in the Lab.

The Bluetooth button can be pressed on the move to record an experience, a problem with cycling infrastructure or a positive experience. Then, using the Android app, cyclists can describe this experience and discuss their journeys with others on the Spokespeople website.

The research involved gathering the views of local residents, which fed into the design of the Spokespeople system, and then bringing residents together with transport planners to look at how the data could be used to take action.

By collecting data about everyday experiences of cycling, the aim is to help start a conversation about what it's like to cycle and how it can be made a better experience.

To find out more, please visit the Spokespeople website.