Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

As Capital Bikeshare expands, the Spotcycle bikesharing app gets an upgrade

November 30, 2011 - 09:30 AM
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(Photo: Spotcycle)

Capital Bikeshare continues to grow in D.C. and Virginia, with new stations added frequently and with new announcements that Walmart may fund certain Capital Bikeshare stations and that the National Park Service is in the process of establishing five stations on the National Mall. Just yesterday, Capital Bikeshare unveiled a new station at 18th and Pennsylvania Avenue NW and at 7th and R Street NW.

What does all this expansion mean? More riders and more stations to keep track of as we move forward. Even in the cooler weather of October, Capital Bikeshare clocked more than 123,000 rides system-wide.

One essential tool for tracking the bikeshare system is a smartphone app called Spotcycle, which helps bikesharing communities in what will soon be nine cities, from London to Boston to Toronto to Melbourne to D.C. Spotcycle has tested an upgrade of the app and now offers better maps and more features. The iPhone version of 3.0 officially went live on November 21.

What better time for an upgrade for D.C. bicyclists, no? Our bikesharing is expanding, and these upgraded features will be especially useful in the warmer months of 2012. Here's a glimpse at some of the app's main features:

The app's primary function is simple: find nearby bikeshare stations and assess how full or empty they are. It's the first and most essential element that every bicyclist would need. The newest version, from what I understand, makes this process more visual, simple, and straightforward. Has that been your experience with Spotcycle 3.0? I'd love to hear from any regular users about how the app has evolved and how useful they find the tool.

The app also allows you to plot a given bike route, which would potentially be useful in any number of ways, from riding to work to riding to your best friend's apartment. You can publish your routes to the application's database and pinpoint different locations of interest on your bike route maps. Test it out and see what you think. It's designed for use on iPhones, Blackberries, Androids, and also on the web, free of charge, although the 3.0 version is only available for the iPhone so far. If you're looking for other Capital Bikeshare resources, the service recently recommended you check out the maps at RideTheCity.com.

As transit options expand, good apps and good web tools will continue to be critical to navigating the systems. What comes to mind are other ways transit has been integrated in recent months and years. WMATA, of course, offers its online Trip Planner and there are services like NextBus ... but those don't come without issues. Metro track work is now a way of life yet the Trip Planner fails to take those delays and shortcomings into account. Zipcar allows its members to reserve cars through its Facebook page now, which is an intriguing step forward. Spotcycle, in its newest version, should hopefully continue to make bikesharing even easier — and that seamless utility is always the goal.

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