Traffic analysis tool



Start date and time
Google Maps API key
Email address



About the tool

  • This version of the Traffic Analysis Tool is a beta release. We welcome feedback and suggestions to:
  • Version: 0.93, released 2020-12-31
  • Authors/developers: George Coulouris and Richard Philpott.

What the tool does

This tool conducts surveys of estimated motor vehicle journey times taking account of traffic congestion as estimated by Google Maps. The tool accepts a request for a specific route and collects Google’s predicted motor vehicle driving time repeatedly over any period of duration between 6 hours to 14 days.

To use it you have to:

  • Set up the route of interest, giving a Start Point, an End Point and up to nine Via Points using postcodes, street addresses or by clicking on the map.
  • Specify the sampling frequency (30 or 60 minutes), the duration of the survey, and a start date and time. Note that data is not sampled between midnight and 05.00, as there is no significant variation in journey times between these times.
  • Supply your email address and submit your request.
  • At the end of the survey period you will receive an email displaying the results in the form of a bar chart of journey times throughout the survey period – your email address will be used for this purpose only.

This tool has been built and is run without funding. The number of requests we can handle without incurring costs by invoking the Google Directions API is limited, so your request may be rejected if you submit a large number of requests, or if our free quota has already been exhausted for the days covered by your request. To ensure that doesn’t happen and to enable new users of the tool to get started easily we ask that frequent users supply a Google Maps API key linked to their own billing account with Google - more details about this here.

How it works

Google collects data on road traffic congestion by recording the locations of smartphones in vehicles. They use the resulting information to generate the display of traffic levels with coloured lines on Google Maps and to give driving time estimates to users whenever they request a route.

Our tool exploits a similar facility that Google offers application developers to access the current estimated journey time for any given route.

Use cases for cycle campaigners

Defending existing infrastructure and trial schemes:

  • Collect data for use in response to objectors who say 'journey X used to take me 10 minutes but with the cycle infrastructure it takes 60 minutes' or similar. The response could for example include the graph of journey times throughout a typical day or a whole week.

Exploring options for new schemes:

  • Opportunistically collect data while a road is partially or totally closed (e.g. for road works) and use it to show that the congestion resulting from the removal of some motor lanes is likely to be acceptable.
  • Estimate the effect of filtering local roads on motor journey times by comparing journey times on the current shortest route with the time on the best available route after filtering (though the estimate can’t take account of extra congestion caused by re-allocated traffic).

Other use cases

  • Study current levels of congestion across an area by requesting surveys on several routes simultaneously. This may be of interest to highway planners as well as air quality and active travel campaigners.

Terms of use

  • The Traffic Analysis Tool is free for anyone to use for purposes of research in relation to the design of highway infrastructure for cycling. Commercial use is not permitted.