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.
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