It's been downloaded 100,000 times. Does it make a difference?
A few years ago we covered Towit, an app where users posted photos of vehicles blocking bike lanes. Even its developer agreed that unless connections were made with the police, it was largely "just shouting into an echo-chamber, or passive-aggressive public shaming at best." It now appears to be no longer available.
In Germany, a new app, Wegeheld (Road Hero), appears to be much more effective and popular. It's been downloaded more than a hundred thousand times, and 70,000 photos of cars and trucks parked in bike lanes have been uploaded to Twitter.
Unlike Towit, this app reports the infractions to the relevant authorities. Cycling campaigner Heinrich Strössenreuther is quoted in Road.cc:
Asked if it was an app for “snitchers,” he said: “Well, snitching in the playground isn’t good, but if one of the kids is holding a knife, it’s all about danger, all the parents are glad that somebody said something. “And this is actually about danger. If a child or a wobbly old lady cycles past a car parked on the bike path, that's a dangerous situation. That's actually the core issue. We have a selfish minority in traffic at the moment who are misbehaving and are making the lives of the majority more difficult.”
Strössenreuther notes that the police don't really take the issue seriously, and that the fines are too low; they are evidently just ten or 15 Euros. “Once you pay 100 euros, you'd think about whether you’d put your car there a second time.”
Today I’ve served out nearly 10 #bikeTO $150 tickets in just over an hour. Bloor- Harbord being the worst ! The van unloading on Bloor .... there’s literally a loading zone less than 10m ahead 😩 be observant ! I saw a cyclist nearly get hit on st George earlier too. #VisionZero pic.twitter.com/3V0U1F8cch— PEO Erin Urquhart (@TPS_BikeHart) April 2, 2019
I am not so sure; in Toronto, Canada there are tweeting cops on bikes giving out what are essentially 100 Euro fines, but Erin and Sabrina still keep quite busy.
I do hope that this app comes to North America soon; nobody is going to ticket these guys but a little passive-aggressive public shaming would be nice.