How I improved my Bike Share experience
I’ve been using Toronto Bike Share for over 2 years now since I moved downtown and I’ve grown to enjoy the convenience it brings to my daily life. For instance, it takes me 10 minutes to walk to the nearest subway station, but I can shrink that commute to 4 minutes by biking. Although it has saved me a lot of time, there have been seriously frustrating situations where walking could have been faster. Determined to avoid future bike share frustrations and disappointed with the current selection of bike share apps, my friend and I created our own solution called Cycle Now. Here are some tips on making your next bike share trip as stress-free and seamless as possible.
Nowhere to dock my bike
Devastating! Upon arrival, you are unexpectedly forced to find an alternative docking station, which wastes your time and makes you late and extra sweaty for that important meeting. Perhaps, you were better off walking or taking public transportation.
Prior to your trip, consider the number of bike docks, time and location of your destination station. Is it a popular spot where a lot of people commute to? Stations like King/Bay are really popular and fill up fast in the morning and deplete quickly in the evening (thanks to the bankers). Sometimes there are Toronto Bike Share employees that re-allocate bikes, but I won’t count on that. Most apps let you check availability on a map, but we wanted the ability to create a favourites widget-list with custom sorting and labels (emoji-supported 👔👩💼) for quicker navigation. Cycle Now app gives you full control of your most frequently used stations.
Stay on top of bike and dock availability
So you’ve confirmed there are a few bike docks available and begin your commute. Great! But what if your trip takes 20 minutes? Will those docks still be there when you arrive? Using Cycle Now, you can set an alert* which will notify you as soon as there are no more docks available. Half-way during your trip, you might hear a loud alert, suggesting you to find an alternative dock instead of arriving disappointed. The app can also notify exactly when a bike or dock becomes available.
*This feature is available for Android version of Cycle Now, but iOS will support it soon.
Planning a trip is tedious
I loathed swiping around a map to find the nearest bike station from my location and doing it again for the nearest docking station from my final destination - sometimes again if availability changes. I was wasting my time looking endlessly at a map instead of moving myself from my location → A → B → destination. This was not a pleasant bike share experience, thus we created a simple and fast trip planner. Just enter your final destination and the app will find the two optimal stations for your trip. It will even remember your 5 most recent trips. No more scrolling around frantically on a map, trying to find an exact location. Additionally, Cycle Now offer a quick link to Google’s native turn-by-turn bike directions. We don’t reinvent the wheel. We just want to fill the gaps. Google Maps is already great at providing bike directions.
Instead of bloating our existing Transit Now app, we’ve designed helpful bike share features into a new standalone app. Inspired by what some of the biggest internet companies have been doing, we strongly believe this approach gives the user the most uncompromising bike share experience.