Planning for Bike Route App in Final Stages

by Katie Pyzyk June 19, 2012 at 11:45 am 5,433 54 Comments

Finding a bike route in Arlington and the surrounding areas is about to get easier, thanks to an app that’s in the final planning stages.

A developer, Open Plans, is working with Arlington and Washington, D.C. to devise the free bike map web and smartphone app. When finished, it will provide point-to-point directions like other trip planning apps do, but will be specifically catered to bike routes instead of motor vehicle routes. The map will also include locations of Capital Bikeshare stations, along with real time availability of bikes at each station.

Right now, developers have a preliminary version running, but it’s not yet available to the public. On Thursday, June 21, representatives from all the involved groups will gather for a work session to further tweak the app. They’re trying to ensure the map shows all bike restrictions and hazards, to help users plan safe, legal trips.

One main goal for the work session is to fill in some of the bike-centric missing links. For example, developers want to add any special cut-throughs or one-way streets that bikers should know about.

“When you have a map that’s already designed, it often doesn’t capture all the little intricacies of getting around by bike,” said Chris Eatough of BikeArlington. “So to know those intricacies, it’s good to contact people who bike a lot.”

Once the app goes public, there will be a section for users to add their own suggestions for corrections or additions to the map.

BikeArlington has been instrumental in providing input for the bike route mapping project, due in large part to all the information it has gathered over the years for its paper maps. Eatough believes the new app will provide a convenient supplement to the paper maps, which are sent out twice per year. He noted that despite the convenience of being able to pull up the app while actually out biking, riders need to remember basic safety.

“Obviously, checking the app will be recommended when not actually rolling on a bike,” Eatough said. “To check a route, do pull over and then check.”

Another item that should be cleared up at the work session is what the final name for the site will be. There’s been talk about whether it should be cibi.me, like the version Open Plans developed for New York, or if this area should get its own name.

If all goes well at Thursday’s work session, developers believe the app could be operational as early as next week.

  • very cool, pumped about this.

    there should also be a feature to map little old lady occurrences on the trails.

    gah, too soon, i’m ashamed.

    *howls, tucks tail in between legs, runs off into the woods*

    • PaulB


      • definitely.

        • Enough already

          I wish they would develop and APP that shocks the cyclist every time they run a red light or stop sign

          • ballsteve

            I know. If only cyclist could follow traffic laws exactly as they are stated, you know, the way all cars do.

          • WTF? Cars breaking traffic laws does not excuse bike breaking traffic laws.

          • cyclist

            He didn’t say that.

          • drax

            I wish they would develop an app that shocks drivers every time they run red lights, fail to yeild, tailgate, speed, drive while texting or drive drunk.

          • enough already

            Cars get tickets, cyclists don’t. Thank your county board for that

          • Arlingtonian

            Nope. I see a lot of car drivers breaking laws and engaging in dangerous behavior without getting ticketed.

          • Cars get ticketed when?

          • cyclist

            False. Cyclists get tickets too. And cars often don’t.

            Try again.

    • JamesE

      way too soon

      I laughed:(

  • yo yo ma

    just send me the .apk file. do it

  • kdiffily

    Logging how often a trail was used (anonymized and optional of course) and then indicating that on the trail map, maybe by making popular trails thicker lines would be amazing. It would also create a feedback loop to see why some trails are popular and others are not.

    • drax

      Good idea – but with what data?

      • Skynet

        Don’t ask me!

      • CW

        The county installed counters on some trails. Somebody (DC?) did it on the key bridge too. When you see a little standalone post off to the side of the trail with an eyeball thingy inside it, that’s what that is.

        • drax

          No, those are Patriot Act spycams monitoring our every move.

          Seriously, the counters would work, but they aren’t enough to fulfill this (good) idea.

    • woodsia

      They should pair their data with Strava or Garmin to find out usage from cyclists using GPS. It may give them a starting point for route use.

      • ProfessionalObserver

        …or a dedicated drone to overfly all bicycle trails and monitor usage. Just a thought.

    • Bandersnatch

      There is a Strava multiple ride mapper utility at:


      It works great with a single user, someone with patience could plug in say 100 users to get a good idea of routes traveled.

  • bobco85

    I’m interested to see what comes of this. It makes me think of the CycleTracks app used in San Francisco a few years ago to help determine the main routes that cyclists take through the city. Here (on the SF Co. Trans. Auth. site) is what I’m describing.

  • WestoverAndOver

    Will it give audible bollard warnings?

  • Paul

    But of course, since we’re Arlington, the app is authored exclusively for the Apple iPhone (as if Android doesn’t exist). Because Apple is a magnanimous, green and progressive multinational corporation, and Siri dutifully tells Zooey Deschanel that the clear skies outside her window are…clear. Right?

    • D’oh

      Can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic, but it’s about market share. Apple has more of the market in general, which is why so many developers go with iPhone apps before Android apps.

      • Paul

        So like, you just made that up, because you like Apple, right?


        Android dominates at 56.1% against Apple’s paltry 22.9%. Though I am also (yes, sarcastically) observing that the Church of Jobs cult dominates Arlington.

        • fine, you win, apple is just better all-around. minus the new commercials. hate you, zooey deschanel.

        • D’oh

          Actually, based on a cursory glance at this: http://techcrunch.com/2012/05/02/winning-in-neither-name-nor-spirit/. But AllenB provides a much more useful source citing US statistics, including this quote that may answer your original question: “Apple has a developer network effect that gives them the edge in the mobile market share race. Consumers are ultimately drawn to phones with the most and best apps. Developers, in turn, follow the money, and currently make four times as much money on iOS.”

          But you answered my question: You’re not sarcastic, just butthurt. You have no idea what phone I use.

          • Arlingtonian

            “Butthurt”? What are you, twelve years old?

        • PikeMan

          not entirely accurate – that number would be more impressive if there weren’t a zillion different flavors of Android on a zillion different types of hardware.

          one of the most attractive things to developers about iOS is the consistency of the ecosystem. that 56.1% to 22.9% means a lot less when the Android side is severely fragmented.

        • Hardware sales not the same as app sales. The ongoing Android dilemma. iOS users are more willing to pay $0.99 for a good app. Android users would rather get free ad-supported apps. That’s why app developers choose iOS first and port to Android later.

      • AllenB

        Actually, not true. Android has much more marketshare the past year or so.


        • PikeMan

          also, you’re basing your argument over hardware sales – that doesn’t necessarily equate to actual app sales.

    • Internet Geekdom

      Don’t you dare disparage Zooey Deschanel. Don’t you do it.

      • drax

        She’s a hot tamale!

  • meh..

    Great….now more idiots with headphones will be crowding my specially curated private/secret routes….

    Not sure I like this…..no..actually…I’m quite sure I don’t like this..

    I prefer to take the road least traveled…literally.

    • Jim

      Tough luck, that’s me behind you ringing the bell…

  • Richard Cranium

    DEVELOPERS?!??!?! NOOOOOO! They’re EEEVIL!!!

    • E-Ross

      no we’re not… its the user’s fault, I swear!

  • SomeGuy

    Why an “app”? What if I want to see these routes and I don’t have a smart phone? Wouldn’t a responsive mobile-compatible web site be the best solution?

    • PikeMan

      what kind of non-smartphone would you be able to browse a “responsive mobile-compatible” website on?

      • SomeGuy

        My PC, for example? That’s a “non-smartphone” on which I’d like to see this content.

        The point is that this information can be presented in a way that’s accessible to far more people if it’s not exclusively an “app.”

        • PikeMan

          from the first line of the article:

          “A developer, Open Plans, is working with Arlington and Washington, D.C. to devise the free bike map web and smartphone app.”

          web and smartphone app.

          your PC will do just fine, enhance your calm 😀

          • SomeGuy

            Got it, PikeMan. Thanks. The author kinda tucked that “web” part in (one subtle mention) while amplifying the app-ness of this new resource, so I didn’t catch it.

            I still think it doesn’t need to be an “app” since a responsive web site would serve both PC and mobile browsers (iOS, Android, etc.) in one shot. But the larger concern is addressed.

          • PikeMan

            depending on what the app actually does, there could actually be some performance and usability benefits to being an app over a responsive website – mainly that a lot of the assets can be stored on the client device and can drastically reduce the amount of data that needs to be transmitted. will be interesting to see i think.

          • what’s a web what does that mean

          • R. Griffon

            I think you’re looking for this:


            More PC (and smartphone)-friendly maps here:


    • Just to clarify, the bike routing tool is a device responsive mobile compatible web site, not a native app. So it should work on any modern browser and scale nicely to smaller screens (iPhone, Android, iPad, etc).

  • WeiQiang

    Bollard locations, please! I would like the GPS function in my phone to feed the app my location in sufficient time for my phone to warn me when I am approaching bollards … or when Sam’s is open.

    • drax

      Or give us today’s special at Sam’s…

    • Jim

      Well if we’re doing bollard locations then can we also do when the NPS is in a bad mood?

  • For those interested in an app right now that’s available for iPhone and Android, go to Ride the City (www.ridethecity.com).


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