A new mobile application could change the way people bike in downtown Phoenix.
Paul Skiera, director of technology of the ASU research center SkySong, spoke Thursday about a user-friendly mobile application he and several of his students developed that can track bicycle lanes using GPS to help bicyclists navigate downtown Phoenix.
“We’re working with the city of Phoenix to give this application back at all levels to the university,” Skiera said.
City of Phoenix bicycle coordinator Joseph Perez said that the app needed to focus on what was most important to bikers in Phoenix.
“The things that interest the city the most are functional bike lanes, safe and smooth pavement, and legible signs,” Perez said.
Keith Wetzel, professor of educational technology at ASU, noted the app’s ability for users to send in reports that provide detailed descriptions about bike lanes, such as graffiti along the walls, glass on the road and potholes in the ground.
“When reporting an issue with a lane, you can type in what the problem is or use voice to record it,” Wetzel said. “It will also look up your location and verify your address. For now, it’s localized in Phoenix.”
The app distinguishes areas throughout the city where there may be a problem with “report types,” such as underneath a bridge or within a tunnel.
Users can create and suggest their own unofficial routes that are traced by the GPS monitored by the app, according to Skiera.
“Users can leave comments under new routes that explain routes they ride every day, which might be nice for other bikers to have,” Skiera said.
User-submitted routes can be depicted in great detail showing a picture, the location, annotations and the corner that the route is on.
The app’s suggestion box is available for maintenance tips by bikers to give to others who need help.
“It’s an easy way allowing bikers to give suggestions and general info to other bikers about quick maintenance tests,” Skiera said.
Kerry Wilcoxon, Phoenix traffic engineer, spoke highly of the “riding mode,” still in production, which will do a trace route that creates bike paths and routes in relation to where the biker who uses it rides in town.
“This kind of data will be invaluable when we start looking at where we actually need to do outreach in the downtown community,” Wilcoxon said. “It helps us see where people are riding bikes.”
Skiera said that this version of the app is the beginning of a much bigger project he hopes will bloom further in the future.
“We need to add more tools,” Skiera said. “Let’s have more public service announcements. As we grow it, it’s nice to have someone who can do customization.”
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