People for Bikes Introduces Ride Spot, a Social Network for Sharing Routes

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CC BY 2.0. Ride Spot stuff/ Lloyd Alter

This is not for the Lycra crowd, but to encourage safe and enjoyable biking for everyone.

One of the biggest problems in getting people onto bikes in North America is enabling them to feel safe on the roads. When in Minneapolis recently, I learned about the work of People for Bikes.

PeopleForBikes is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that promotes cycling and the bicycle industry, because "more people riding more safely makes communities better places to live, work and play." Their city ratings tell you which are the best cities to bike (Fort Collins, Colorado, is on top right now), they do lobbying in Washington, and they are working hard to get e-bike regulations made consistent across the country, which is a very big deal.

ebike regulatory mess

Ebikes are a regulatory mess in the USA/via

With clear rules on how and where to ride an e-bike, everyone stands to benefit. Local bicycle shops and manufacturers will see increased business and their customers will no longer be confused; people who already ride e-bikes can more easily understand where to ride; and new bicyclists who may be discouraged from riding a traditional bicycle due to limited physical fitness, age, disability or convenience will have improved transportation alternatives.

Another initiative they have started is Ride Spot, where individuals or bike shops suggest routes through their cities. "We believe it's time to work together to share the safest and most enjoyable routes everywhere in order to get more people on bikes, living more active and connected lives." They are addressing the problems that beginners face:

  • People don't know safe routes.
  • It is difficult to find people to ride with.
  • Cycling is intimidating and complex.
Erie Canal Ride

Erie Canal ride/Screen capture

With Ride Spot, one gets help from the local bike shop or others who have entered routes. I checked out Buffalo because I have cycled there, and Bert's Bikes has entered all kinds of interesting routes that make me want to go to Buffalo right now; this trip along the Erie Canal looks fascinating and has a great writeup. There is a big push to get bike shops involved, to break down barriers to cycling and build stronger bicycling communities.

my page

my Ride spot page/Screen capture

There is also a social networking aspect, making it "a simple platform to share routes, stories, and pictures." This is not for the Lycra crowd, but for recreational and commuter people who just want to know how to bike safely.

I have been looking at a few of the cities where I have cycled and almost all the routes I can see are recreational. But I am wondering if this wouldn't be a great tool for bicycle activists to add a lot more urban routes, because as Brent Toderian notes, that's how we build successful cities. It's taken me years to figure out how to get across town safely and which roads to avoid. This could be a great way of sharing that information.