Route planner for bicycles

Basic Information

Mobility solution ID








Route guidance systems are available for cyclists, but do not always give information on the safest route. Therefore, a new guidance system will be developed in Ghent that outlines both the fastest and safest route.

Implementing sustainable mobility

The route planning and guidance system will show the safest cycling routes or alternative routes with cycling paths and little traffic. In addition, the system will show the availability of safe crossings by means of cycling tunnels or bridges. The main crossroads on cycling routes from the main train station towards the city centre and the university area will be improved and the other cycling routes to and from the station will be audited. Firstly the corridor will be analysed by means of a bicycle safety audit on the current road network within the CIVITAS ELAN corridor, as well as on the other planned measures within the project.

The safety audit will be carried out in close cooperation with important user groups like schools and the cycling union. Minor infrastructure works will be undertaken to improve the bicycle infrastructure and two cycling barometers will be installed to promote and encourage cycling. Via the Internet, car drivers and public transport users can also simulate their trip with all kinds of models. The route guidance system for bicycles will be based on personal digital assistant (PDA) and navigation system.

Measure 8.10 GEN aimed at stimulating safe cycling in the City of Ghent through the development of an Internet-based route planner for bicycles that not only gives the fastest route, but also the safest one. It also has the possibility to export the calculated routes to a (bicycle) navigation system.
There were no important deviations from the original plan.


Based on the safe cycling route network information, a web-based route planning system will be developed using either address points or places of interest. The information will appear in text or a graphic form, with the option for the user to personalise search criteria. The route guidance system will use a global positioning system (GPS), and will be tested by people living in the CIVITAS ELAN corridor. A new unique online bicycle route planner was launched in September 2010 and cyclists can determine their personal route and even include a number of personal preferences. They also have the possibility of avoiding cobblestones, tram tracks or hills. Since spring 2011 other features are being added to the online route planner, such as the possibility to export it to your GPS. The route planner will also be made available in English.


  • Complex procedure for IT projects.Procedure for IT projects in the city of Ghent is complex which delayed somewhat the implementation of the bicycle route planner.

It is important to adjust the bicycle route planner to the newest technological developments (e.g., apps, google maps, …). The technological development of the bicycle route planner is one aspect, but the route planner must be updated regularly. For example, shortcuts for cyclists and bicycle bridges are normally not included in digital data of (mainly car-oriented) road infrastructure. This type of information was added to the bicycle route planner in a next stage.

Promotion of the bicycle route planner was not based on a single event, but it required a continuous effort. More effort need to be taken to reach the students in higher education. They are an important target group as more than 80% of the 65.000 students in higher education are cycling in Ghent.


Gent expects the measure will:

  • Increase user perception of safety by offering safe routes by 3%;
  • Increase awareness of attractive and safe routes by cyclists.

Key results

  • Citizens and students in higher education are more interested in the bicycle route planner than cyclists. Before the implementation of the bicycle route planner: students in higher education (68,7%) and citizens (71,9%) were more interested in the bicycle route planner than the cyclists themselves (56,3%). Quantifiable targets and objectives related to the acceptance level are thus only partially achieved (min. 70%)
  • Citizens and cyclists are more familiar with the bicycle route planner than students in higher education. After the implementation of the bicycle route planner: citizens (25,2%) and cyclists (21,6%) are more familiar with the bicycle route planner than students in higher education (9,8%). Quantifiable targets and objectives related to the acceptance level are thus only partially achieved (min. 25%). The lower familiarity rates among students in higher education might be explained by the lower promotion towards this target group. Although Ghent is an important student city, promotion towards students is sometimes low mainly because this must be organized via the student officiary who already has to distribute too much information towards students.
  • Being interested does not automatically result in using the bicycle route planner.
    When comparing before and after data: despite a positive attitude towards the bicycle route planner, only a minority has already used it. An important difference thus exists between an overall interest in the bicycle route planner before the start of CIVITAS ELAN and effectively using it afterwards. Quantifiable targets and objectives related to the acceptance level are thus only partially achieved. The difference between interest and familiarity is large especially among students in higher education. However, communication of the bicycle route planner to these students was limited.
  • More than 2.000 requested routes each month.
    The average number of requested routes per month is more than double the quantifiable target of 1.000 requested routes per month. The inventory of route planner contacts is thus successful.
  • Direct effect of promotion campaigns. The evolution of the inventory of route planner contacts illustrates that promotion campaigns have a direct influence and result in an increase in the number of requested routes. For example, the first day after the press release, more than 1200 citizens consulted the route planner. This increase is however only temporary and directly associated with the timing of the promotion campaigns. Afterwards, the effect of the promotion campaign diminishes. Therefore, promotion of the bicycle route planner should be a continuous effort.


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