- The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is partnering with tech startup Ride Report to collect feedback from thousands of local bicyclists.
- Ride Report is a mobile app that uses sensors and machine learning to track users' bike riding habits and goals, and it solicits input at the end of each ride about users' experiences while riding on hundreds of Portland's streets.
- PBOT said it plans to use the shared, but anonymous, data to help it make better, safer planning decisions to further develop the city's biking infrastructure.
Portland has been on the forefront of promoting bike culture for decades, even to the extent of prompting pop culture mentions and parodies, such as repeated skits on the IFC show "Portlandia." It's not surprising that the city would be ahead of the national curve with collecting data from cyclists to further improve its bicycle-friendly infrastructure and boost safety.
Instead of using a "guess and test" approach to improve its infrastructure, Portland is going right to the source to find out what cyclists need and want. Using an app to solicit feedback about routes and safety is far more convenient for both cyclists and city staff compared with using methods like surveys or public forums. This method also is more likely to have a better response rate and collect more usable data.
One of the advantages of Ride Report's design is that it provides multiple benefits to users instead of merely serving as a data collection tool. It allows users to track their bike rides and fitness goals, offers challenges and virtual trophies and provides a sense of community among regional bikers. Plus, PBOT is enlisting local business partners, such as coffee shops, that will offer incentives and discounts to users who download and use the app.