The number of road accidents in Dutch cities increased in the last three years. Research in Amsterdam states that the number of serious injuries caused by traffic accidents is much higher in 2016 than in previous years. That is why the Amsterdam municipality announced a new multiyear project to improve the traffic safety for every citizen. For this project, the most important traffic safety indicator is the yearly amount of reported accidents. However, in the Netherlands only 25% of the occurred accidents is reported.
This lack of information can be supplemented by knowledge from the users of public space. They come across the safe and unsafe situations in their daily lives. That is why traffic participants can help to understand traffic risks. Traffic users have certain meanings and feelings of locations, based on experiences. This study is an initial attempt to analyze data collection methods to retrieve this data from citizens and traffic users, called participatory data, whereby the main objective is to explore the added value of this participatory data of citizens to improve traffic safety in Amsterdam.
Different types of participatory data are collected. Firstly, mental maps and sketch maps made by residents. Secondly, Wageningen University students performed a transect walk in Amsterdam and valued their perceptions on the safety on several locations. These are compared with a third dataset provided by the Amsterdam Municipality, including many dangerous locations in the city according to residents. The support of these datasets is assessed by thematic and spatial precision, accuracy, comprehensiveness and representativeness.
Next the most significant factors defining traffic safety were analysed by joining environmental and infrastructural elements to the locations of perceptions. Thereafter, the traffic safety perceptions are compared with the reported accidents and the formal infrastructure to determine the added value of the participatory data.
The results are also compared between the residents and the students, who were visitors in Amsterdam. The most remarkable difference is that the perceptions of residents seem to be based on the locations of occurred accidents, where the perceptions of the visitors seem to be based on the traffic density and locations with fast traffic and mayor intersections. Nevertheless, this explorative research shows ways to collect and support participatory data. Although the outcomes cannot directly lead to decision making, due to the limited extent of the research, it does give policymakers important clues to further investigate locations where something must be changed.
Keywords: Traffic Safety; Perceptions; Participatory Maps; Geo-Information Systems (GIS); Urban Data; Amsterdam