CyclePhilly, a new app for iOS and Android devices, allows Philadelphia bicyclists to record their daily riding habits and share that data with regional planners to help in preparing for future bike routes, facilities, and helping authorities understand how bike commuters are using transit during their trips.
Developed by local civic hackers at Code for Philly, in conjunction with the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, the idea of having community cyclists crowd source their bike routes for planning authorities first originated in San Francisco and has since been used in Austin, Puget Sound and Atlanta, but this is the first attempt to record Philadelphia bike patterns, despite the city having the highest rate of cyclists per capita of the nation’s 10 biggest cities.
To use the app, a rider starts the route, bikes to their destination and hits save. Then they’ll be prompted to record the purpose of the trip, such as a work commute, going to school or social. Their personal routes are stored on the device and a copy of the route they took is uploaded to CyclePhilly servers to be analyzed by planning authorities.
The app also has the ability to let the user note certain issues related to a location while on their route. Options include pavement issues, whether they would like to see more bike parking or whether a traffic signal is out. CyclePhilly’s website shows a map of routes recorded by its users.
The project was sparked last year when Corey Acri, an avid cyclist, brought the project to Code for Philly, Code For America’s local branch of civic minded hackers.
“I love biking in Philly, but the bike routes can be wacky,” Acri said.
He asked Mark Headd, then Philadelphia’s Chief Data Officer, if there was any data on how cyclists moved throughout the city. He was told there was none, but Headd invited him to get it himself, and the project was born.
Acri, a lawyer by education, needed government partnership to use the app and developers to create it. He found a willing partner in the DVRPC to make use of the data and programmers Kathryn Killebrew, Kevin Clough, and Code For Philly co-captains Lloyd Emelle and Chris Alfano to build it.
Acri is hoping that Philly cyclists will help region planners out and “do something they do a hundred times a day, take their phone out and push a button.”