An App to Find Your City’s Best Bike Routes

The result is a fairly comprehensive map showing the safest streets for cycling in a given city, based on the experiences of actual riders. Users can also specify if a street has protected lanes, greenways, or other kinds of bike infrastructure.

Riding on some sketchy roads? Here’s how to make a left turn safely in busy traffic:

“The more information you can give to people before they leave their home, the better,” LaneSpotter founder Lynsie Campbell said. “The biggest obstacle to bike commuting for many people is the unexpected and the unknown.”

RELATED: The Best Bike Rides Near Your 12 Favorite Cities

Campbell said the idea for the app came when she started taking her young son on bike rides in her hometown of Pittsburgh. At the time, she had trouble choosing routes that made her feel comfortable.

“Not all bike lanes are the same,” she said. “There’s an unprotected bike lane nearby that’s on a four-lane road, where people drive 50 mph in a 35-mph zone. I don’t feel as safe as I would in a protected lane on a less-traveled street.”

That presented a question: “Why can’t we rely on other cyclists for help safely navigating the city?”

After launching in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Denver earlier this year, LaneSpotter recently expanded its outreach to eight additional cities: New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Atlanta, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Washington, D.C., and Portland, Oregon.

RELATED: 9 Ways to Make Bike Commuting Easier for You

Cyclists from all over North America add data to the app, although 90 percent of its current routes come from the 11 cities that have gotten a marketing push. Expect to see additional cities join the roster as more people get involved. Upward of 3,800 users rated more than 12,000 roads over the course of a week earlier this year, Campbell said.

 

What if the submitted data is inaccurate? Campbell said anyone with concerns about the route selection can and should contact the app developers. LaneSpotter also works with local cycling advocacy groups to verify the information firsthand.

Campbell said the maps will eventually include the locations of bike shops, fix-it stations, and bike-friendly businesses. She also hopes to add pin-drop alerts indicating road hazards, such as potholes or unplowed streets. (Learn tips for safe riding in the Complete Book of Road Cycling Skills.)

Another goal is to give ratings based on time and day—riders could be advised against taking a particular road…

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