Tagtheft prevention

BikeSpike has major potential impact for data collection

This is a pretty hilarious video showing the main reason one would get a BikeSpike: to catch a thief. 

Bill Fienup emailed me in December or January asking to meet up to talk about their bike theft tracking device (that does a whole lot of other stuff) but I couldn’t meet until February as the transition from Grid Chicago to Streetsblog Chicago was occupying my brain time. Bill’s part of Team BikeSpike.

The BikeSpike in hand. It’s very small and weighs 3.1 ounces.

It was convenient that they were at 1871 on a Tuesday night; I was there for Hack Night, they for one of the other myriad events that occurs on the 12th floor of the Merchandise Mart. They showed me a 3D-printed mockup of the BikeSpike, and told me what it was capable of doing. They seem to have a good programmer on their team in Josh Billions – yes, that’s his real last name.

I came to their lab near Union Park to talk in depth about BikeSpike with Bill, Josh, Harvey Moon, and Clay Neigher, garner more information, and provide them with some more insight into how the product can be useful to the transportation planning work I do as a Streetsblogger, advocate, and programmer. I brought my friend Brandon Gobel and he became interested to hear about how it could help him manage the future fleet of Bullitt cargo bikes he’s now selling and renting at Ciclo Urbano.

Beside the fact that BikeSpike can show law enforcement workers the EXACT LOCATION OF STOLEN PROPERTY, I like its data collection aspects. Like many apps for iOS (including Moves and Google Latitude), BikeSpike can report its location constantly, creating opportunities for individuals to track training rides and urban planners to see where people ride bikes.

Cities should know where people are riding so they can build infrastructure in those places! Many cities don’t know this until they either count them frequently and in diverse locations, or when they ask. But neither of these methods are as accurate as hundreds, or thousands of people reporting (anonymously) where they ride. I’ve got three examples below.

I imagine the BikeSpike will produce a map like this, which was created by Google Latitude constantly tracking me. 

Team BikeSpike: Clay, Bill, Ben Turner (I didn’t meet him), Josh, and Harvey.

1. Want to see if that new buffered bike lane on South Chicago Avenue actually encourages people to ride there and wasn’t just an extra-space-opportunity? Look at BikeSpike data.

2. The number of people biking on Kinzie Street shot up after a protected bike lane was installed. How many of these new Kinzie riders switched from parallel streets and how many were new to biking? Look at BikeSpike data.

3. Given relatively proximal origins and relatively proximal destinations, will people bike on a buffered bike lane (say Franklin Street or Wabash Avenue) over a protected bike lane (say Dearborn Street)? Look at BikeSpike data.

There are many other things BikeSpike can do with its GPS and accelerometer, including detect if your bike was wiggled or you’ve crashed. I want a BikeSpike but you’ll have to back the project on Kickstarter before I can get one! They need $135,000 more pledged by April 9.

Theft prevention for your bicycle

Please lock your bike at least this well.

The Kryptonite u-lock secures the front wheel and frame to the bike rack. I took this photo of my own bike at UIC’s CUPPA Hall.

Additionally, lock your rear wheel using either a cable locked to the front u-lock, a second u-lock, or a cable with its own lock.

More information on bike theft prevention.

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