I’m going to piggyback on a post from the Greater Greater Washington (GGW) blog, which presents several apps (mobile and web) designed to make the use, operation, or analysis of DC’s Capital Bikeshare (or CaBi) system easier. All of these apps are enabled by open data and showcase how bikeshare operators can benefit from the work of private developers. Their own website includes a dashboard, which includes system-wide (default view) and individual station (requires some digging) data. Mobile examples include:
- SpotCycle (iPhone, Blackberry, Android)
- Cycle Hire Widget (Android)
- CityBikes (Android, iPhone coming)
- iFindBikes (iPhone)
Web examples include:
One astute comment on the GGW post posits the data, as displayed in an app like SpotCycle, could be used as part of an incentivization scheme whereby users are credited with minutes or money to use on the system if they return their bike to an empty or low-inventory bike station. This would help automate the redistribution operation, which could cost on the order of 20-30 percent of the total cost of the system. This means incentive credits offered to users could be quite high and still offer a net gain to the operator.
I’m not sure why they haven’t done this yet, but I could also see this data integrated into DC’s (or other city’s) online trip planner. Currently, DC’s system offers the choice of using bus, rail, or both when searching for a transit trip – why not include bike share? Why not include it as a result in the search as an alternative by default? This would be a less direct way of encouraging the use of the system, a way of raising awareness cheaply by leveraging the established use of the trip planner software. (Side note: it’s not even included in their listing of “alternate transportation” or the “bike n’ ride” link. Seems like a no brainer to me.)
It might also be interesting to put practical graphics (like the one below) on physical screens in local businesses near to the bike stations, similar to information displays on bus stops. Imagine if, leaving your hotel, you were first greeted with a bike rather than a cab stand – a quicker, cheaper, and funner travel mode that you might just be convinced to try.
- Terra Curtis