This editorial article is a part of Tech for the Common Good Month of Technical.ly's editorial calendar. This month’s theme is underwritten by Verizon 5G. This story was independently reported and not reviewed by Verizon before publication.
The dev behind CyclePhilly, the 2015-winning Code for America Technology Award project, is back in the cycling tech scene with another digital tool: a text-based route-planning tool for bikers.
Corey Acri, a former attorney-turned-web designer, launched his previous project to record bike trips and share data with regional transit planners to make the city a safer place for biking. And his new project, a collaboration with Brooklyn-based technologist and cycling enthusiast Tim Hoenig, is in a similar vein.
In 2016, the pair set out to help solve a problem they found through research — that many people interested in bike riding didn’t do so because they lacked access to a reliable bike, and because they had a poor perception of safety for biking. They imagined a service that would find the right bike for someone (check out FindABike here) and keep them riding by “mimicking the friendly bike route advice of an experienced bike riding friend,” Acri told Technical.ly.
When the pandemic hit and the pair had the time to focus on their project, they partnered with Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) and built Ruti.
The new tool allows you to text your start and end locations for a bike ride, and will provide safe directions and a map. The route includes higher “stress” areas along the route, and spots that might call for walking your bike on the sidewalks. The tool directly benefits bikers, something that Acri said was important to him.
“I always felt that CyclePhilly didn’t give much to the biking end-user except the intangible ‘promise’ that the biking data we provided to planning partners would influence bike infrastructure decisions,” he said in an email.
Did you know? Next week is #BiketoWork week! Use @RutiBike to find the bike route between your house and your work with the least amount of car traffic. Right Route. Less Stress. #RutiBikePHL #Bike2Work https://t.co/3Nms0hNXrp pic.twitter.com/hYBPYXBOx7
— Ruti (@RutiBike) May 14, 2021
Acri now runs his own web design and development agency, AG Strategic Design, which produced the tool with DVRPC. Ruti uses the DVRPC Bicycle LTS [Level of Traffic Stress] Connectivity Analysis and Google Maps data to find the most comfortable bike route between two locations. DVRPC’s LTS analysis has rated nearly 30,000 miles of roadway in the Greater Philadelphia region, according to the org, and accounts for things like a road segment’s number of traffic lanes, effective speed and bike infrastructure like sharrows.
The app combines Twilio SMS and Twilio Autopilot for the text aspects and Google Maps and Directions APIs to compare bike routes to the DVRPC’s stress map data in a PostgreSQL and PostGIS database, Acri said.
Users don’t need to download a specific app to use the tool, but do need to register at rutiapp.bike. Ruti will send a text to your phone, and you can begin texting from there to find the right bike route.
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