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Thread: Behold: RackSpotter - A crowdsourced bike parking tool!

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    Default Behold: RackSpotter - A crowdsourced bike parking tool!

    We've been working on this for awhile and it's now finally ready to be released. Introducing RackSpotter, Arlington's crowdsourced bike rack map for parking! RackSpotter is a free tool available for web browsers and smartphones that can be used to identify bike parking locations throughout Arlington (and will expand to the rest of the DC metro area soon).

    Get the details and add your own local racks here: http://www.bikearlington.com/pages/b...e-parking-map/

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Kelley View Post
    We've been working on this for awhile and it's now finally ready to be released. Introducing RackSpotter, Arlington's crowdsourced bike rack map for parking! RackSpotter is a free tool available for web browsers and smartphones that can be used to identify bike parking locations throughout Arlington (and will expand to the rest of the DC metro area soon).

    Get the details and add your own local racks here: http://www.bikearlington.com/pages/b...e-parking-map/
    It looks great. I was trying to add some in other areas until I realized it's only in Arlington, but neat app and very helpful. Particularly to those like me who would be coming from another part of the area and would want to know if there was something decent to lockup to rather than the usual signpost.

    You all continue to pave the way!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Terpfan View Post
    It looks great. I was trying to add some in other areas until I realized it's only in Arlington, but neat app and very helpful. Particularly to those like me who would be coming from another part of the area and would want to know if there was something decent to lockup to rather than the usual signpost.

    You all continue to pave the way!
    Yeah, we're focusing on just in Arlington for right now and making sure that the roll out goes smoothly before opening it up everywhere! If you notice any issues with the map not working correctly either report them here or send an email to info@bikearlington.com

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    Tim,

    Any plans to grow this beyond our region? Even nationally? I can't see why not.

    Great work, making all of Virginia proud!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Terpfan View Post
    You all continue to pave the way!
    Pave paradise and put up a parking map?

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    Quote Originally Posted by mattotoole View Post
    Tim,

    Any plans to grow this beyond our region? Even nationally? I can't see why not.

    Great work, making all of Virginia proud!
    There isn't any technical limitation as to why that couldn't happen. Right now it's bound by Arlington boundaries, but once we're confident that everything is running well we can open it up to the galaxy!

  7. #7
    PotomacCyclist is offline I spend all day thinking about bikes and talking to people on the internet about them.
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    SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR NEW RackSpotter PEOPLE
    [I moved this post from later in the thread to the first page.]

    We might have new people signing onto the RackSpotter website after the Greater Greater Washington article. I'd like to offer a few suggestions for anyone new to RackSpotter, to smooth the way and help us create an awesome map for everyone in the region.

    - Photo glitch. I've experienced problems when I start the process of adding a new bike rack to the map, then taking a photo in the middle of the process. This causes the website to lock up. A better practice is to take a photo first. Then open the browser and the RackSpotter website. While adding a bike rack location, you will see an option to Add Photo. At this point, you can select My Files (or similar name, depending on your phone software) to select the most recent photo for the bike rack.
    [UPDATE-2: This issue appears to have been resolved.]

    - More about photos. It's useful to add a photo to each bike rack location. It can help people to locate the bike rack, especially when you include the surrounding area in the photo. If there's a landmark nearby, I try to incorporate it into the photo, if possible. A close-up shot of the bike rack may not be as useful to people who are searching the map for possible places to lock up their bike on an unfamiliar block.

    - Beware of display lag. While moving the map around to navigate to a particular location, you may notice that the website doesn't react immediately. There's a lot of data on the map (the individual bike racks), which causes the site to react slowly. Wait a few seconds after moving the map around, before trying to zoom in. If you rush it, you are likely to press an existing rack location or Google Maps featured area. This causes a pop-up window to open. While you can easily close that window, it's aggravating and it slows down the process. If you wait and let the site adjust to the new map location, then you will avoid the pop-ups and the extra delays.

    - Log-in status. While I can usually switch back and forth between the website, the camera app and a note-taking app without any problems, occasionally the website will log me out when I switch between apps. There doesn't seem to be a pattern, other than it's more common if I take a longer time between visits to the website and browser. If you see the key icon has gone dim, just log in again. On some occasions, you might try to add a bike rack and be unable to press Submit at the end. You could have been logged out. Logging-in again will resolve the issue.

    - Comments. There is a 10-character minimum for comments. The site won't let you add a comment shorter than 10 characters. Add an extra word or two to any comment you post, to reach the 10-character minimum. If you have added the name of a restaurant, add the word "restaurant" at the end. Or add "building" to a comment about a specific office building, and so on.

    - Mapping areas. If I add a lot of bike racks to a neighborhood, I try to follow certain patterns, to help me or someone else in the future determine what has and what hasn't been covered. If I'm adding racks on a particular street, I try to cover both sides of the street. Usually this means heading down the street (on bike or on foot) then turning around and covering the other side. Sometimes you can see the other side without crossing the street, but usually there are parked cars that block the view of possible bike racks on the other side of the street. If I don't have time to cover both sides of the street, I add a brief note in a separate note app on the phone. This reminds me to cover that side of the street at a later date. Or you can post a brief comment on this thread, so that someone else can pick up the trail, if you don't have time to go back to that street yourself.

    I've tried to cover central areas comprehensively, meaning that I will eventually check every street and block (except those that are off-limits, such as at key gov't facilities). There are more bike racks in central DC than in the residential neighborhoods, so it makes more sense to do a comprehensive sweep there. For neighborhoods that are primarily residential, there usually aren't as many bike racks. Often, there are none at all, other than on small retail strips in the center of the neighborhood. In those areas, I am more likely to look at only those retail/entertainment strips. If you live in one of those neighborhoods and want to cover that area more completely on the RackSpotter map, there's certainly no reason not to.

    [I'll add to this list as I think of other points.]

    =====

    LIST OF MAPPED AREAS on RackSpotter

    I thought it would be helpful to have a list of neighborhoods and streets/roads that have been mapped already. While the map may never be complete (because new bike racks will get added to the numerous new construction sites in the area, and local organizations have been adding bike racks to non-construction zones too), we can still list areas that are largely mapped. In areas like NoMa, the Southwest Waterfront and the Capitol Waterfront in DC where many new buildings are being constructed, I take down quick notes on a note app on my phone, so that I can return at a later date.

    DC

    - Downtown (Farragut Square/McPherson Square/Franklin Square): I've checked all the streets in those areas. But more bike racks are on the way because of new construction.
    - Foggy Bottom
    - West End
    - Metro Center
    - Gallery Place
    - Judiciary Square
    - Federal Triangle
    - The National Mall
    - West Potomac Park
    - Mt. Vernon Triangle
    - NoMa (west of the railroad tracks): Many new bike racks are likely to be added at the numerous construction sites.


    ARLINGTON

    - Pentagon City
    - Crystal City



    PARTIALLY MAPPED AREAS (with unmapped bike racks)


    - Clarendon
    - Courthouse?
    - Old Town Alexandria
    Last edited by PotomacCyclist; 02-20-2016 at 06:23 AM.

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    Who should I contact if I notice errors in the data for previously spotted racks? Are you the sysadmin, Tim?

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    Spent some time on Friday afternoon taking photos and searching high and low for bike racks (they can be quite rare in some areas). The tool is pretty easy to learn, although I had some initial confusion about whether bays or spaces are being used.

    Here's the issue I ran- er, biked- into:
    1. Adding a single U rack at a location (1 bay -> 2 spaces)
    2. The tool says "How many bays or spaces?" so I enter 2
    3. After adding the rack to the map, the rack information shows "Bays: 2"
    4. 2 bays would mean 4 spaces which is incorrect


    I think if the tool were to ask for spaces only it would be clearer to users (I think it should answer the question, "How many bikes can be locked up here?"). Perhaps something explaining the bays-to-spaces calculation would help, too (note: the explanation for wave rack capacity with counting the arches was helpful).

    Other than that, I think this tool is really great. Once a lot of rack information has been added, I think this data could be used to push for the addition of or improvement of bike parking in places that need them. So far, so good!

  10. #10
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    Would love to see a proper app. The mobile site is a little buggy. Main problem is that I have to log in every time and dismiss the "how to" notification. The map is also a little wonky and frequently has problems fetching map data. Would also be nice if it was possible to add photos to spots that are already marked, since I often pass spaces and make a mental note, but don't have the time/ability to stop and take a photo.

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