One 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 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).