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Met Council gets an app to improve regional bike-ability

To make the area more amenable to bicyclists, the Metropolitan Council has started gathering information about individual rides with the help of a smartphone app called CycleTracks.

The San Francisco County Transportation Authority originally developed the app to improve its transit system. Recently the California agency licensed the Met Council, for a fee, to use the same program locally, according to council information. 

Using GPS technology, the free app, which is available to both iPhone and Android users, captures data about cyclists’ routes, distance, and travel times. The app also collects demographic information such as age, gender, ride frequency, and so forth.  

Jonathan Ehrlich, a senior planner with the council, explains: “We’re using it for transportation planning. We can get data about cyclists, what facilities they’re using, and for what purpose.”

“The app tells us everywhere a bicyclist has been,” he says.

It also distinguishes recreational bicyclists from commuters and others who bike as a primary mode of transportation.

This information will tell the council “what roads and paths are being used and what ones are being avoided,” he says.  

People can also add notes about their ride.  

Right now the app has a couple hundred users and the council hopes to get several thousand. “We’re very pleased with the response so far,” Ehrlich says.

The council is trying to get as much data as possible this summer and fall, to aid in a private study.  
Another senior transportation planner, David Vessel, adds that this is “a great way for regional cyclists to contribute to a more accurate model of cycling activity and improve the plan for future cycling facilities.”  

At the same time, “The app stores the ride map and stats for the cyclist on their phone too,” he says, adding, “It is a handy free cycle computer.”

Source: David Vessel, Jonathan Ehrlich, senior transit planners, Met Council
Writer: Anna Pratt
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