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Gearing up for a cycling revolution with Sweco’s innovative new route-making tool

Sweco’s Build Your Bike Route tool is a new web-based toolkit currently being developed with South of Scotland Enterprise and Scottish Government. Our aim is to help deliver better Active Travel routes across our rural regions, through data-led evidence, and in doing so promote circular economy in construction.

Below, Alexander McNaughton, Senior Engineer in our Active Travel team reflects on the development of this innovative digital toolkit in collaboration with our GIS, Pavement and Decarbonisation teams.

“Commuting by bicycle can be a fast and enjoyable way to get around when compared with sitting in traffic or even on the bus. However getting people to choose this option more frequently requires access to good high quality active travel infrastructure.

While our cities and communities are developing their own active travel infrastructure, rural communities lag behind due to the sheer diversity of challenges they face. South of Scotland Enterprise has recognised this issue and has set the following challenge:

“How can technology unlock the power of the bike, stimulating demand for cycling infrastructure and support South of Scotland communities?”

The Scottish Government’s CivTech Challenge acts as a technology accelerator hub, based in Edinburgh. They link the public sector and the private sector to solve problems, and grow businesses.

With Sweco’s technical expertise in Active Travel, path construction techniques and GIS based tools, we were perfectly placed to take this challenge head on.

In the initial competitive exploration phase of the challenge, we outlined our initial solution of using the latest 3D Visualisation technology and knowledge in innovative material choices for path construction to promote new ways of showing people what active travel in rural areas can look like.

Following our success in this stage we moved on to the accelerator stage, expanding our ideas under an intense 15-week programme to develop our Minimum Viable Product (MVP) solution. This solution was to look not only at what active travel can look like, but to develop a support toolkit that aimed on helping users design high level active travel routes with a data lead approach, through GIS web mapping tools.

This toolkit became Sweco’s ‘Build Your Bike Route’ (BYBR). It is an online resource that users can access to gain a deeper understanding of active travel design, as well as access innovative digital mapping tools, and alternative path construction techniques. Our aim is for this toolkit to be a real change-making mechanism.”

A one-stop tool for mapping data, our Build Your Bike Route tool will host datasets published by multiple providers in one convenient location, including bus stop locations, personal injury data, topography, open street map data, flooding, cycle networks and much more – giving clients, local authorities, funders and community groups the best ‘big picture’ on which they can build their case and enhance decision-making.

GIS Mapping

A one stop shop for mapping data. BYBR will host datasets published by from multiple providers in one convenient location. These datasets include bus stop locations, personal injury data, topography, open street map data, flooding, cycle networks and much more. Having all this data in one place makes planning and plotting possible routes much easier.

3D Visualisations

A picture says a thousand words, our library of high quality 3D visualisations will be available for users to share, showing what typical rural active travel can look like. I hope this will be embraced by property owners early on as it shows how individual design is possible.

Alternative Path Construction Techniques

Path construction in Scotland typically involves traditional design and construction approaches. These include virgin cut stone from quarry, and new black-top paths which can create higher carbon outputs through heating and transport.

At Sweco we believe in circular construction, and so we are challenging the industry to change. BYBR will provide a platform to promote alternative methods of construction that include higher recycled materials, lower temperature mixes, and technology such as foam mix.

There is huge opportunity for a more circular economy modal of path construction across the UK, and beyond.

Sweco is pushing for a transformation in path construction. Using the BYBR platform, we’re promoting sustainable alternatives like recycled materials and lower-temperature mixes. This shift towards a circular economy model offers not just environmental benefits, but broader community advantages. It’s a practical way to significantly reduce carbon emissions and waste, benefiting Scotland today and setting a precedent for the rest of the UK and beyond.

Stuart Guthrie Technical Director Pavement Engineering at Sweco

Scoring Tool

Data lead evidence of route selection is becoming increasingly important, not just for our clients, but for funders also. BYBR will use a GIS based scoring toolbox, that will take a users drawn route, and score it against the dozens of datasets we have correlated. We are currently working with key stakeholders to ensure this assessment methodology is supported by Scottish Government funders, improving the quality of schemes that apply, and improving connectivity across Scotland.


It takes time to become an expert in all things active travel. BYBR aims at reducing this burden, by providing a Knowledge Centre that brakes down the important information into more accessible language and smaller chunks. This collection of guidance information will be hosted in GIS Storymaps, that can be more dynamic and engaging than just PDFs.

I’m delighted that Sweco’s Build Your Bike Route (BYBR) trial toolkit is now publicly available, enabling the development of active travel routes across rural Scotland. The project is an excellent example of collaborative digital innovation by our Active Travel, GIS, Pavement, and Decarbonisation teams with South of Scotland Enterprise and Scottish Government.”

Willem Kok Chief Digital Officer at Sweco UK

Sweco is committed to unlocking and enabling more sustainable travel – specifically ‘walking and wheeling’. Our active travel infrastructure consultants have extensive project experience across the UK, a detailed knowledge of UK design tools and techniques and a deep, unique understanding of international best practices.