Stillwater News Press

August 23, 2013

City charts routes with new app

By Nick Woodruff
Stillwater NewsPress

STILLWATER, Okla. — The more people pedal and download the Stillwater Cycles app, the more the city will know how to improve its bike routes. The new app went “live” in July and will track a person’s route using a Global Positioning System.

Jason Peek, the city’s transportation department manager, said the app was designed to help his department better plan where bike lanes and other biking facilities should be inserted.

“We have a bike plan for Stillwater,” Peek said in a press release. “But we don’t have a good planning document that says we are putting facilities where they need to be, and our traditional methods of counting vehicles aren’t as suitable for counting bicycles.

“With the app, we can start layering the routes mapped by cyclists and figure out if we need to shift our resources into improving bike facilities on other streets.”

Seventy-five users have downloaded the app and there are more than 200 routes recorded in Stillwater’s system. Peek said it’s interesting seeing the different routes.

“It’s been interesting to look at the information,” Peek said. “There is a lot connected with OSU and downtown. Some routes even go out to Fairgrounds Road and Lake McMurtry and Lake Carl Blackwell.”

The new app is different than other cycling apps. It uses satellite viewing along with a street view.

Peek said because some people have trouble with maps, the mapping system with street views of buildings and other reference sites should be helpful.

The app also has another helpful feature in which a cyclist can note locations such as parking, bike shops and water fountains, according to the press release. A cyclist will be able to inform the city of pavement problems and other transportation issues.

Mary Cash, owner of Cooper’s Bicycle, said she is glad the city is taking big steps to help plan improvements for cyclists in the city.

“The app works amazingly well,” Cash said in the press release. “I thought originally it would be just a map but it is more of a data collection tool, which is great, too, now that we know what it is going to be used for.”

Even though Cash likes the data gathering potential of the app, Peek said one of the more important things about the app is it could help with federal funding with the data it collects.

“With the reauthorization of federal funds, there is a specific focus on data,” Peek said in the press release. “So communities that could articulate the impact of these funds quantitatively would have a better likelihood of obtaining them.

“To me, that meant if we had data about cycling we would be better situated than cities like Oklahoma City, Tulsa or Norman to compete for those funds.”

Even though Stillwater is not a huge city, Peek said it is important the city has good bike routes.

“There is one thing that is interesting,” Peek said. “Stillwater is one of five cities in the United States that has this app and that is using it in this way,” he said. “We’re not as big as a San Francisco, city of Atlanta, but we are utilizing the system to our advantage.”