TagiPhone

I’m on the home stretch for first update to Chicago Offline Bike Map app

Splash screen of the app. 

Since making the first version of the Chicago Offline Bike Map app, a bike map stored in your iOS device and doesn’t need an Internet connection, I’ve made several important changes and added new features. I’ve upgraded twice how train stations will be appearing. I’ve completely changed the way it looks by using jQueryMobile. Also with v0.2 you’ll find more points of interest, locate yourself using the iOS device hardware (results will vary on a variety of hardware and location factors), and zoom to any neighborhood.

I want your help. I want to make a list of at least 20 points of interest. I’ve no qualifications, but this is who I think my target audience is: people who have cycled in Chicago for a while, people who have just started cycling, people who have iOS devices (I will expand to Android eventually), and who know how to use a map.

Current points of interest are:

  • All CTA and Metra stations
  • All neighborhoods
  • Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
  • Field Museum of Natural History
  • Museum of Science and Industry
  • DuSable Museum
  • Harold Washington Cultural Center
  • Chicago Cultural Center
  • Holography Museum
  • Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Chicago City Hall
  • Chicago Velo Campus
  • Millennium Park Bike Station
  • SAIC Bike Fixit Station

Train stations on the map. 

Excluding train stations and neighborhoods, there are 12 points of interest. What else should I add? (Since posting this I’ve added the three largest libraries: Harold Washington Library Center, Woodson Regional, and Sulzer Regional.)

P.S. I plan to make an Android version of this app, but I have no timeline on that. Follow app development at the app’s Tumblr.

My first iPhone app – Request a bike rack

Here’s a video preview of my first iOS app that will hopefully, in the end, allow you to request a bike rack in Chicago based on where you and your device are currently standing.

I don’t know if it will ever hit the Apple App Store because Apple requires developers to pay a $99 fee each year. I’m surely not going to pay this. It will be able to run on jailbroken iOS devices and it will work on iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

The code is based on my Bike Crash Portal website that asks permission to use your location (given automatically through HTML5 and the computer’s own location software). A fork of this project may include a mobile-optimized website that allows you to request a bike rack; again, based on your current location.

The purpose of this is to eliminate the need to know the address of where you want to request a bike rack. Oftentimes a person will arrive at their destination and not find any bike racks. Open the app, hit “Share my location” when the app loads and then tap submit. The Chicago Bicycle Parking Program (hopefully) will receive your request.

Weighting people’s experiences in route choice

An iPhone app is not a substitute for a paper map*, good signage on your bikeway network, or someone just telling you, “Turn right on Church, right on Chambers, left on Reade” to get to the bike shop where you left your water bottle.

At the bike shop I asked about how to get to the Williamsburg bridge so I could go “home” to Brooklyn. After looking at the map, he said, “Oh, take Grand.” -He then told me how to get to Grand.

The Williamsburg bridge. I took this one even though the Manhattan bridge was probably closer to my “home” because I hadn’t yet ridden on it!

I did. It worked. It was excellent. I even passed by the Doughnut Plant (which I had forgotten about visiting).

Doughnut Plant makes really tasty donuts. I wouldn’t get them too often, though, because each one costs $3.

Not only did I receive a “tried and true” route suggestion, I got it faster than any automated route devising device would have generated one.

Each month I’m asked by people how to get somewhere in Chicago. We have so many resources these days but we often still rely on the spoken interaction to get us to our destination.

*I’ve read or heard people suggest that “someone should make” an app that puts the bike map on their smartphone. I don’t think this app would be very useful or easy to use. But a paper map is both – and almost always free.

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