Four Cellphone Apps that are Making Biking Safer
By: Kaitlyn Bailey
MSc, University of British Columbia
When most people think of cellphones and cycling, “safety” is not the first word that comes to mind. And, no, of course using your cellphone while you are biking is dangerous. However, as long as you pull over first, there are a number of new apps that can help to make riding a bike safer and decrease bike theft. I’ve picked a few below that I think are very useful.
1. 529 garage: If you’ve ever experienced the gut-wrenching feeling when your bike is not where you left it, then you will appreciate 529 garage. All you have to do is register your bike on their app or website, and attach their tamper-proof registration sticker to your frame. Then, if your bike goes missing, an alert is sent to fellow 529 users in your community to be on the look out for it. In many cities local bike stores and the police are working alongside 529 garage to return stolen bikes. They say it is much easier to retrieve a stolen bike when you’ve registered all of the pertinent information ahead of time. And the results? Since the 529 garage app launched in Vancouver bike theft has decreased by 30%.
2. BikeMaps: If you’ve biked in a city, chances are you’ve had a collision or at the very least a “near miss”. Did you report it? Only about 30% of bike collision data is reported. This is likely in part because before this website there was no centralized place to report these types of incidents. BikeMaps aggregates data about bicycle collisions and near collisions from citizens across North America. They create maps using this data to help you determine the safest cycling routes and also pass this information onto city officials to use in city planning. If you ride your bike and have access to a computer or phone you can log incidents and help to create a safer space for cycling.
3. Bike doctor 2.0: This one is for anyone who is mechanically challenged like myself. Bike doctor 2.0 provides step-by-step instructional videos for bicycle maintenance from the most common problems to some more specialized ones. If you ever find yourself stuck on the road with a broken bike, Bike doctor 2.0 is like have a mechanic in your pocket that can help you fix your bike enough to ride to the nearest bike shop.
4. RoadID: This app has a new feature called eCrumb. Before you start your ride you can send a link to your friends or family using this app and they can track exactly where you are. This is convenient if you are planning to meet up with someone part way through, but it can also be used as a safety feature because if anything happens to you, your family or friends that you sent the link to can see exactly where you last were.