Wednesday, June 30, 2010

New iPhone Application Helps Bicyclists Plot A Safe Route Through Chicago and Elsewhere

Finally, there is an iPhone application that helps bicyclists map a safe route between two locations in Chicago and other North American cities.  Ride The City's new multi-city app launched today and expands upon the RTC website, started in 2008, allowing cyclists to map bike appropriate routes while out and about.  Much like Google Map's "go by bike" feature (not yet available on the Google Maps iPhone app), Ride The City plots a cycling route that steers bicyclists toward bike lanes, bike paths, greenways and other bike-friendly streets, and away from highways and busy arterial streets.

I downloaded the app to my iPhone and played with it a bit this morning.  It seems pretty good, providing the user with the option of choosing the most direct route, a "safe" route or a "safer" route.  I tapped in my home and office addresses and let the app do its thing.  When I requested the "safer" route, the application offered a fairly goofy, round-about path between my home and office.  However, requesting the "safe" route the app provided the path I would consider the best and safest way to get from home to work.  The application is still learning Chicago though.  For example, the application fails to note that all of Milwaukee Avenue between Chicago Avenue and Armitage has a dedicated bike lane.  In fairness to the developers, however, the app encourages and easily accomodates users' ability to point out errors and offer corrections.  Over time, one would hope that Ride The City will improve.

The application is available in the iTunes app store for $2.99. 

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