Map courtesy of Chris Pollard, William Tsay — DVRPC.

Miles Breed Milestones

What makes a good thing great? A great idea? Great minds? Great skill? Extensive research, testing, evaluation and iteration? While these are all elements of great things, nothing can be truly great without collaboration between a group of individuals striving to achieve a valued and common goal.

In June 2013 a group of individuals came together wondering what they might do to make their city better. In our case, we chose biking, specifically, something that would give the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) the datasets it needed to make smart choices about bike infrastructure planning. CyclePhilly was the product of this effort.

Over two years later, on Feb. 2, 2015, the CyclePhilly team achieved a major project milestone — the DVRPC’s release of a clean and reliable dataset of 6 months of CyclePhilly recorded routes. While this could not have been done without the technical skill and expertise of a lot of smart and talented people (Lloyd Emelle, Kathryn Killebrew, Greg Krykewycz, Chris Pollard, Stephanie Lipartito, Elise Turner and William Tsay, to name a few), the achievement would have been impossible without collaboration between a group of individuals striving to achieve a valued and common goal. So let’s look at this achievement through the lens of that statement because every element is essential.

Starting from the back forward:

“A Common Goal”

CyclePhilly works because every person involved committed to the idea that data collection solely for bike planning purposes could make a difference. From the planners to the programmers to the riders recording their routes, everyone believed that gathering and/or volunteering data for bike planning purposes was something worth working towards.

“A Valued Goal”

Alignment of personal values with professional goals is the only way to motivate and inspire. Every person involved in CyclePhilly shared a passion — the bike. Values flowed from that passion — safe streets, healthy people and a prosperous Philadelphia. As for more personal values, all involved sought to make a difference, give something to their community or, in some more general way, simply do good. Making a better biking Philly motivated us, as did the prospect of safer and engaging bike routes for commuters, casual bikers and enthusiasts alike.

“Individuals Striving”

Striving means making a great effort to obtain something. In the case of this project, I am not sure I can tally the total number of hours invested by people working in their free time to learn something new, make something meaningful and do something tangible. The programmers, the planners, the designers, communicators, journalists and, of course, the users logging thousands of trips — all striving to achieve our common and valued goal.

“Collaboration”

Finally, collaboration is what transforms the sum of good individual efforts into one great effort yielding great results. This is where you find the miles breeding milestones; in this great example of what people can do when they work together, putting aside personal agendas to truly collaborate.