Some of the defining problems of our era are overwhelmingly huge and interconnected issues, like climate change, pollution and loss of biodiversity. The science involved in figuring out these problems is challenging. It is difficult to formulate good theories about complex systems like the weather, for example, and professional scientists often struggle to collect enough data to test their predictions. The reality is that scientists simply can’t solve these challenges on their own. And that's where you come in...
While individual "citizen scientists" might only put in a few hours of work a year, their collective efforts add up to an enormous value.
For example, nearly 90% of all species and habitat records in the United Kingdom are collected by volunteers . Globally, citizen scientists engaged in biodiversity surveillance are estimated to contribute time in-kind worth up to 2.5 billion US dollars per year . That corresponds to about 40% of the annual budget of the U.S. National Science Foundation across all scientific disciplines.
 The Conservation Volunteers  Theobald et al. (2015). Global change and local solutions: Tapping the unrealized potential of citizen science for biodiversity research. Biological Conservation, 181, 236-244.
Whether it's cycling to work, an evening bike ride or a long-distance adventure, you spend a lot of time outside with your bike. This means you are in an excellent position to make observations about nature.
Finding the right bike gear, finding a way to strap all that gear to your bike, finding a route through areas you haven't traveled to before, or finding a way to communicate with people who don't share your language - as a cyclist you frequently find creative solutions for tricky and unusual problems. The same creativity is a great asset for engaging in scientific research.
Going to remote places as a citizen scientist doesn't mean you have to cycle to the steppes of Outer Mongolia. By "remote" we mean areas that are poorly mapped in terms of scientific data. It might be the small woodland you cycle past on your daily commute or the hedge outside your favourite bike café. There are many places where there isn't a scientist available to collect data, but where we urgently need data to be collected. Yes, even that hedge.
Travelling by bicycle means travelling slowly. This gives you a great opportunity to engage with the local people and to discover the local flora and fauna. Documenting what you see and hear can be extremely valuable to scientists who often don't have the resources to visit.
To get started, have a look at our database to find a research project that sparks your interest. We have selected citizen science projects that are suitable for cyclists because they don't require you to bring much equipment. Usually, a smartphone or a notebook is all you need. You can sort through the projects by geographical region or tags like "Record offline", for example.
If a project sounds interesting, just follow the link to the project's website to get more detailed information about the materials and measurements involved. We will continue to add projects to the Science by Bike database. If you would like to be notified about new projects, please follow us on Twitter or sign up for our newsletter.
We are Sophie Esterer and Dominik Neller, just two people who are passionate about science and also love to ride their bikes. With the Science by Bike project, we aim to raise awareness about research that needs help from citizens across the globe. We believe that participating in citizen science is a compelling path to a deeper understanding of the world around us and we hope to inspire other cyclists to engage with nature in this way.
If you would like to get in touch, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on Twitter.