Bike Racks, Bikeability, Liveability

Bike Parking App: Snap a Rack, Build a Map

 Rack Locator

Rack Locator

Nathaniel Burnett, cycling enthusiast and founder of The Bicycle Parking Project, hopes that his app will eliminate one excuse people have for not riding their bikes. The app utilizes both external data sources and user-generated content to create a map of existing bike racks. Users can plan ahead or instantly locate bike parking near their destination without scrambling to find a secure rack on foot.

Publicly available data from many metropolitan areas including New York, San Francisco, and Chicago have already been imported into the app, populating several thousand bike racks per city. App users have occasionally supplied city data, too. A cyclist in Omaha, Nebraska, wanted local racks to be included on the map. He contacted the city to request the required information and forwarded the resulting data file to Nathaniel. Omaha’s bike racks were on the map later that same day.

 

Users can add individual bike racks by quickly snapping and submitting a photo through the app. The new location marker and corresponding photo detail is displayed in real time, though Nathaniel monitors all submissions and deletes any that aren’t legitimate. User-added rack locations have popped up across the globe, including cities in Europe, India, Australia, and South America. Users can also report location markers where the rack is missing, typically due to an error in the data file.

 DIY Rack Mapping

DIY Rack Mapping

 Adding the rack photo to the map

Adding the rack photo to the map

 A pin indicates the rack has been added

A pin indicates the rack has been added

Before creating his own, Nathaniel tried using another bike parking app. He was disappointed that the new racks he submitted were never incorporated into the map and wanted his version to empower fellow cyclists to actively develop this community resource. The more users interact with the app, the more refined and helpful the map will become.

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For cyclists who don’t need help finding parking, the app has one additional tool: it allows users to drop a pin to mark the location of their bike. In areas where bike racks are prevalent or in unfamiliar neighborhoods, this feature ensures riders don’t forget where they parked.

The Bicycle Parking Project app is available for both iOS and Android. While the number of downloads is still in the thousands, the positive feedback Nathaniel has received from users encourages him to continue the work. As the map becomes more comprehensive in local areas, it may also become a resource that city officials and business owners utilize to identify where there is an absence of bicycle parking.

Header Image Courtesy CC: Diane Yee