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New Bike-Route App Allows Riders To Choose Safety Over Speed

By Stephen Gossett in News on Jul 7, 2016 8:15PM

The Kinzie Street protected bike lane: the one that started them all. (Photo Credit: Josh Koonce)

Chicago has been called the second best city in America for bicycling, but even as the city added more than 100 miles of protected bike lanes (and counting), cycling on the city streets can feel like an intimidating proposition.

A new app created by a local team of developers, community investors, and transportation planners looks to reduce potential security fears by allowing cyclists to map rides based on the safest route. (Google Maps and like-focused apps often prioritize speed and distance, not necessarily safety.)

The app is called PBR, which stands for Personal Bike Routing (and could also double as a clever, knowing wink to hipster-cyclist stereotypes). Users can chart courses according to three choices: direct, which provides the quickest option; cautious, which favors low-traffic, residential side side streets; and comfortable, a balance between the two. The open-source app also allows for one-tap directions, and it lets users save favorite locations and check time and distance estimates.

"Chicago has a huge network of residential streets that are great for low-stress riding, but there are too many nuances to navigate by memory or map," Nate Hutcheson, a member of the development group, told Chicago Inno. "One example of nuance is the unpredictability of one-way streets that can switch direction from one-block to another."

For those with time to spare, the quieter path less travelled may indeed be the best option. The most recent statistics show that while dooring incidents are down, they have grown more injurious. And major arterial streets such as North Avenue and California Ave have seen sharp increases in number of doorings.

At least two cyclists have been killed so far this year in bike-automobile collisions.

[H/T Chicago Inno]