An app for bicyclists — and for making better bike routes

Today, we celebrate bikes, smart phones and bullet points.

If you:

  • Ride a bike in Eugene;
  • Have an iPhone or an Android phone;
  • Want to potentially improve the experience of cycling around Eugene; and
  • Aren’t the kind of person who suspects Big Brother is lurking behind every bike rack …

then …

There is a free smartphone app you might want to check out. It was developed by a guy named Josh Roll at the Lane Council of Governments.

It might be boring and tedious for me to describe how this app actually works. And since KEZI’s Stacia Kalinoski already did this quite lucidly way back in November, I’ll just refer you to her report for the details.

Stacia did a good job, I think — even though was hard for me to concentrate on what she was saying, because I was so distracted by that enormous basket on the back of Josh Roll’s bike. Did you see that basket? He could have put Stacia Kalinoski herself right in there and done the interview as a ride-along.

But if you didn’t watch the video, suffice it to say the app uses the GPS capability of your smartphone to track how you get from Point A to Point B on your bike. Planners can then use this data to figure out:

  • How to improve bicycle travel in Eugene;
  • Assess how new bike facilities are working;
  • Put together demographic data about cyclists; and
  • Maybe improve route-finding software for cyclists.

What’s that? You don’t believe it? You say this app is really a Big Brother conspiracy? You say if you used this app you would be afraid The Man would learn that you:

  • Roll through stop signs;
  • Occasionally ride the wrong way on Charnelton Street; and
  • Travel suspiciously close to City Councilor George Poling’s house on a regular basis?

No, no, no. I suppose this is a good time to stress — stress — that LCOG says your data is safe with them. Really. I would use the app myself, but unfortunately, here at Eugene Bicyclist we don’t have a smart phone. We have a very dumb phone that we call Blogger Phone.

It has a pretty good camera, though. At least it did. Until the 2-year-old lobbed it across the kitchen the other day. The camera has not been working since. With Blogger Phone down, we have missed a few good pictures around town already, which makes us sad. This is really an emergency for Eugene Bicyclist.

Anyway, since introducing the app last fall, Josh Roll says he has logged about 600 trips from 80 users. He said he will continue gathering data for a few years. He would love for more people to start using the app, though. The more people who use it, the more successful the project will be — and the safer George Poling will be.

So go download the app. And use it whenever you ride. Although Josh Roll does admonish us thusly: “We want typical behavior, so no erratic routes or experimentation.”

That means you. That means don’t turn on the app and then:

  • Drive your car to Portland;
  • Participate in an alleycat race;
  • Ride in circles around George Poling’s house.

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