For many years, I’ve had a lot of great ideas for apps that I’ve never followed through on.
Part my lack of expertise, but truly laziness was a factor too.
When I entered grad school in 1996, I came across an idea a couple of years later about a webpage where people could share pictures and stories with friends, but since the internet was lacking at the time, it was a bit of a hard sell.
Oh well, probably wouldn’t have gone anywhere.
Fast forwarding to this millennium, I always thought of putting together an app to help track people blocking the roadway and bike lanes, but my limited technical expertise narrowed my scope for how far the functionality could go.
Why do bike riders and pedestrians have to beg, plead, or die to get lane reconfigurations that make us less likely to be hit by a car? When will this change? @MayorOfLA #SafeStreetsNow pic.twitter.com/07snuFt3FH
— Sean Meredith (@seanmeredith) October 23, 2019
For the past few years, many of these types of projects have passed my desk and while the concepts have been inspiring, their interfaces have been clunky enough to turn you off at the outset.
At the Cal Bike Summit, I led a ride with a lot of vert that wasn’t consummate for the bikes that were provided without E-assist.
I was impressed how well the group held up, but one guy was able to keep up at the front even though he’d been too busy to ride the past couple of weeks.
While we were waiting for others to pull up, he showed me this app he had put together as most people in his position at a convention should, but something was different.
On first glance, SafeLanes.org was far ahead of any application in terms of it’s number one priority: usability.
All other apps I’ve come across have been slow, clunky and hard to understand.
License plate blurred out, but you get the idea..
For Safe Lanes, all you have to do is go to the map and if you’ve read this far, then you have the skills to operate it on your own.
You take a photo of a vehicle and the app will geotag the location and time instantly, as well as record the license plate.
Photo analysis only takes seconds, but if you’re in the middle of riding, you can upload a photo later if you’re in the middle of a ride.
From there, it’s very easy to graphically note where people are reporting activity on the map and it loads as fast as you hope it would.
Yup. you can even cross-reference.
It does all that I ask for…..but it goes even further!
You can even look up each license plate added to see if they have any other transgressions, as well as narrow your search to specific areas.
Founder Stephen Braitsch who had already impressed me with his climbing prowess in street clothes made my eyebrows raise even further that he had only been working on this since April!
See. Stephen can climb hills like he writes code…
I can’t say how many teams of people I’ve seen work on something similar, but coming nowhere close.
Stephen also brought up how Safe Lanes provides data collection to show cities where loading zones are needed and how much lost revenue there is in parking tickets.
My main concern (which would happen to any app like this) is how the results might get skewed in terms of people who are able to access this program, but I do think it’s important to get this conversation started.
Since Safe Lanes is relatively new, you won’t see a lot of data here in LA, but if you look towards Stephen’s surroundings in San Francisco, you’ll have a lot more crunchy data to look at.
San Francisco is a bit more covered
Still, you’ll instantly recognize the power of this platform and how simple it provides useful information.
All I can promise you is once you try Safe Lanes, you’ll remember to always use it although we wish we didn’t.