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New Cycle Philly Mobile App Helps You Help Us Help You Ride Better

Cycle Philly logo2One of the challenges of the better bicycling game is figuring out where people ride. We conduct our annual bike counts, and organizations like DVRPC can put down counters on select streets, but these give us snapshots at best. Philadelphians take thousands of bike trips a day, and if we knew where, when, and why folks were riding, planners could use that information to design better streets and connect our trails.

Now a cadre of volunteer Code for Philly developers have created a mobile app that attempts to fill in this gap in our knowledge. The Cycle Philly App is out of beta and available for download for Apple and Android.

The app is a GPS tracker that will track your bike trips. Open the app and hit “start” before you ride, ride to your destination, then hit “stop” and enter a little information about the purpose of your trip (commute, recreation, etc). Other apps have this functionality, but those apps are focused on fitness. The Cycle Philly app collects these trips and puts them on a map, showing us where Philly bikes:

The blue are happy people. The gray are ghosts commuting to their ghost jobs.

The Cycle Philly commuting map, as seen this morning.

The aggregated data provides an additional resource for local planners and agencies. This insight into bicycle trends, routes, and trip purposes will allow for the implementation of better bicycle facilities like bike lanes and trails. This is the first bike route mapping mobile application for the Philadelphia area.

Cycle Philly is a collaboration between Code for Philly, DVRPC, SEPTA, the City of Philadelphia, and the Bicycle Coalition. From the press release announcing the app’s launch:

While national bike mapping applications, such as MapMyRide, focus on the user’s bike time or fitness goals, CyclePhilly’s resulting data will be beneficial for all. Corey Acri, a volunteer for Code for Philly, noted that he was originally interested in “developing a smartphone-based project to collect voluntary data on cyclists’ bike route preferences that could help the city build better bike routes.” Similar applications were successfully implemented in places such as Atlanta, Austin, and San Francisco and Acri had no problem building interest in Philadelphia, which according to a Bicycle Coalition report, has the highest rate of bicycle commuters per capita in the nation. Despite such enormous interest for the project, Acri said none of it could have become a reality without the work of Code for Philly’s programmers.

Technically Philly covered the app’s launch last week, and it’s currently the #1 most-downloaded app in the Bicycle Coalition offices (the holy grail of app developers).

Topics: Biking in Philly, Featured

6 comments on “New Cycle Philly Mobile App Helps You Help Us Help You Ride Better

  1. SPmilkshake

    I imagine it’s gonna be just as network-thirsty as Waze or most other gps apps. A lot of cyclists frugally share a family plan. Still grateful for the benefits and excited to try it, nonetheless.

  2. Chris

    I’d prefer just having the app run in the background and track my bicycle path…

  3. Annabelle

    I would prefer to just tell you guys where I go since I forget to activate MapMyRide all the time! I bike from south Philly, near Oregon, up seventh, to Washington, then eleventh, then walnut, to get to school at the UArts. I discovered that ninth is not bike friendly at all. I was honked at and nearly side swiped by two cars.

    • Bicycle Coalition

      Thanks, but this isn’t the kind of data collection where we can add routes manually. It’s also not about “where you bike regularly” but specifically when and why. I encourage you to give the app a try – it’s pretty lightweight and works fast (at least on my clunky iPhone 4).

  4. Michelle

    Is there some way that we can view the map data for the app? I’d love to see where other people are biking

    • Bicycle Coalition

      Go to cyclephilly.org and click on “Map.” That’ll show you the live map.

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