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Bicycle Safety

Building an App to Help Neighbors Ride Together

Of all the ways to improve your bike commute, riding with a friend might be the simplest. Not only do you have someone to talk to at red lights, you also become more visible and therefore more safe. With that in mind, Transportation Alternatives is working on a new tech solution called Bike Buddy to help New Yorkers find someone to ride with.

The idea is to combine online mapping software with social networking -- Ride the City meets Facebook. You'd plug in your starting point and destination, and the software would show you the best route to take and recommend a partner to ride with. "Ride the City gives routes to cyclists and lets them choose a safer or a more direct route," said Caroline Samponaro, TA's bike director, but she wants to "beef it up and make it more exciting for people." Helping neighbors bike together could be that killer app. 

New York State currently runs a carpooling website, CommuterLink, that offers some bike-pooling assistance, said Samponaro. Bike Buddy would draw on TA and Ride the City's better understanding of bike culture. "Biking is so inherently social," said Samponaro, and Bike Buddy would build off that.

TA is still in the early stages of developing Bike Buddy. If the app goes live, Samponaro expects it to spread across the country. Cycling activists in cities across America have already expressed their interest, and TA says Bike Buddy can succeed as a national website.

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