As the Big Apple launches the largest bike share program in North America, developers say the key to making such a big service work well is a new mobile app. NY1's Adam Balkin filed the following report.
New York City is launching the largest bike-share program in all of North America, and organizers say for it to work well, smoothly, efficiently, and easily for anyone who plans to use it, it was almost essential that they create an app for finding stations, available bikes and then some.
"We want to make sure that because you have to return a bike somewhere, you have to pick up a bike somewhere, we want to make sure that it's always easy to find the right station that has the number of docks available, and those that are around you. You don't want to waste time getting to and from a station," says Jim Kotulka of Kaplan Thaler. "Really, it's about efficiency in finding those locations."
When users log in to the Citi Bike App, they'll see nearby stations. Little raindrop-looking icons will give a visual indication of how many bikes and spaces there are, based on how full those drops look. Click on one to see the specifics of what's going on at a particular station.
The app also offers up directions and a timer to help you make sure users don't go over their borrowing time. And coming in about a month, there will be a section for discovering new places to visit so that you won't have to necessarily leave the app while biking around.
"We're partnering with New York Times and their Scoop information to really provide insider information about New York City so that you can quickly, without leaving the app, find a great place to get a cup of coffee or get a bite to eat," Kotulka says.
Program developers say that the app, in addition to streamlining this process, is also designed to help locals and tourists feel a little less intimidated about riding a bike through the streets of New York.
"It provides you safe routes based on the New York City Department of Transportation's bicycling map, and it also provides you just a native in the app with a set of New York City riding tips," says Dani Simons of NYC Bicycle Share. "So it has all the rules of the road. It also has some suggestions and best practices for how to keep safe and get around the city."
To learn more about the program, including the pricing plans, head over to citibikenyc.comYou'll also find links to the free iOS and Android Citi Bike App there.