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  • Your App Sucks: The Birth of B-cycle Now

    by Kevin Bell | Aug 25,2015

    We recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of the launch of our app, B-cycle Now. To celebrate this awesome tool, let's take a look back on how it came to be:

    Since launching in 2011, we consistently heard one piece of feedback from our riders more often than any other: "I like Boulder B-cycle, but your app sucks." We could not have agreed more, though the unfortunate reality is that it wasn't "our" app. The official B-cycle app was part of the software suite that we purchase from our vendor, B-cycle LLC, which also includes our website, station software, and back-end database. (To learn more about how our relationship with our vendor works, and the effect that has on you as a rider, you can read this recent post.)

    Despite repeatedly making our riders' frustrations with the official app known to B-cycle LLC, and despite nearly a year of promises to make improvements, no visible progress was being made. At the time, we felt stuck. We knew what was wrong with the app and what we would change to provide a better user experience, but we lacked both the ability to directly change the existing app and the resources to spearhead a redesign ourselves.

    App Screen

    You're killing me, Smalls.


    Enter TalentRiot. In late 2013, we were approached by the staff of this local software developer with a familiar refrain: "We like Boulder B-cycle, but your app sucks." This time, however, the refrain came with a postscript: "We'll build you a better app for free."

    In a fortunate turn of events, TalentRiot was in the habit of giving skill-building opportunities to its developers outside of project hours in order to keep them sharp. After all, what better way to build up developers’ skills than real-world projects? It was a match made in heaven.

    Talentriot logo

    Cue angelic choir.


    And so, based on feedback from our users, we rolled up our sleeves and sat down with the TalentRiot team to hammer out an app. Our goal was to design an app that would not only be free of the bugs and quirks of the official B-cycle app, but it would also be faster and far more user-friendly in its interface.

    We couldn't be happier with the result. The difference between the two apps is night and day. This side-by-side comparison says it best:

    In case you can't view that video, here's a quick summary of the improvements B-cycle Now makes:

      The Official B-cycle App
     B-cycle Now
     Selecting your city
     Manual selection from a list
     Geo-location automatically selects the nearest program
     Finding stations
    Round red markers
     Pinpoint accuracy
     Finding available bikes and docks
     Click-through on each station icon
     On-screen display of color-coded bike counts
     Visualizing disconnected stations
    Disconnected stations disappear entirely
     Disconnected stations indicated with '?'
     Getting directions
     Redirects to your phone's browser
     On-screen bike routes
     Visiting your city's website
     Manual selection through a cumbersome map interface
    Automatic location-based selection

    B-cycle Now Launched on June 24, 2014 for the 25+ B-cycle cities around the world, and we believe that it's the best app available for the needs of our riders. If you haven't downloaded it yet, what are you waiting for? It's free!

    Get it now for iOS or Android.

    Thanks again to TalentRiot for generously donating their time to completing this app. You guys don't suck!

  • We're hiring!

    by Kevin Bell | Jun 29,2015
    Do you want to work for a super cool nonprofit working to get more people on bikes in Boulder?

    We're hiring a Part-Time Fleet Technician to assist us in bike and station repair and maintenance.

    Come join the team! Click here for the full posting and instructions on how to apply
    .
  • Ride free on Bike to Work Day courtesy of Noosa Yoghurt!

    by Kevin Bell | Jun 18,2015

    Have you or a friend been wanting to give Boulder B-cycle a try? Now’s your chance! On Wednesday, June 24th, we’ll be waiving the cost of 24-hour entry passes for Bike to Work Day. These passes, normally available for $8 at any station kiosk, include an unlimited number of 30-minute trips for a full 24-hour period. Get ready to ditch that car and commute with the wind in your hair!

    Noosa Free Day white

    Here’s how it works:

    1. Walk up to any of our 38 stations with your credit card

    2. Follow the instructions on screen to check out a bike

    3. When asked if you need to purchase a pass, choose ‘yes’ (you won’t be charged)

    4. Enter your information to confirm your $0 total and pick a bike!

    5. Remember to keep every trip under 30 minutes! Overtime fees still apply.

    6. Ride, return, repeat! Take as many trips as you like for the next 24 hours.

    For the second year in a row, this promotion was made possible through a sponsorship from Noosa Yoghurt, a Colorado-based company producing yoghurt from locally-sourced ingredients.

    Bike to Work Day is about getting as many people on bikes as possible, and by waiving pass costs, we're aiming to reach those people who have may been reluctant to ride before. Does that sound like you or someone you know? If so, there's never been a better time to start riding.

    Don’t forget: Noosa Yoghurt’s products, along with Clif Bars, Horizon Dairy products, Silk soy and almond milk, and Boulder Organic Ice Cream will also be available for free at our breakfast station at The Peloton at 38th & Arapahoe on Bike to Work Day.

    BTW station map
    Right here!

    Thanks again to Noosa Yoghurt for once again making free 24-hour passes possible through their contribution. We'll see you out there!

  • Boulder B-cycle vs. The Gym

    by Kevin Bell | Apr 29,2015

    Looking to get in shape and save money? Consider your options:



    BBC vs Gym_final-01
  • Who the heck are we?—Our Organizational Structure

    by Kevin Bell | Apr 21,2015

    Boulder B-cycle is a small 501(c)(3) nonprofit with 3 full-time and 5 part-time employees. We are not a program of the City of Boulder, and we are not a large corporate franchise.

    Allstaff
    Pictured: The whole darn operation.

    Most people are surprised to learn these facts, so we’d like to take this opportunity to provide some clarity as to how our organization is structured, and what impact that has on you as a rider.

    Relationship With The City of Boulder

    While we are not a program of the City of Boulder, we do operate under a master agreement with the city. This means that we are beholden to certain standards of operation and key performance measures as established by the city.

    Metrics
    You know. The fun stuff.

    We also receive some of our operational funding from city programs and departments, including Go Boulder and Boulder Parking Services. As bike share programs have been demonstrated to reduce single occupancy vehicle travel, we have been integrated into the city’s plans to increase total cycling mode share. For more details on how we fit into these plans, see the City of Boulder’s Transportation Master Plan.

    B-cycle LLC and the B-cycle Brand

    If you’ve spent time in Denver or other cities with bike share systems, you’ve likely noticed that we’re not the only ones running a B-cycle system. More than 25 other cities around the world run B-cycle-branded systems. For the most part, each of these systems is operated as an independent nonprofit, just as we are. As such, Denver B-cycle, Austin B-cycle, Charlotte B-cycle, and all other B-cycle cities are completely separate entities from Boulder B-cycle. While we do often interact with other cities and communicate best operational practices, we share no staff, no business plans, and no central office.

    Map
    Like a bunch of lone wolves. Who occasionally talk.

    So, where does the branding and B-cycle name come from? The answer is our supplier, B-cycle LLC. B-cycle LLC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Trek bikes based out of Waterloo, Wisconsin. On the hardware side, they design and manufacture the bikes and stations found in all B-cycle cities. On the software side, they design the front end software with which users interact, the back end database that all B-cycle systems use, our website platform and the official B-cycle mobile app. Annual membership reciprocity between cities is a benefit of independent operators sharing the same hardware and software.

    Boulder B-cycle purchases our bikes and stations from B-cycle LLC and pays them a monthly software fee. It is up to us to locate and maintain all bikes and stations, sell memberships, and provide customer service and member support.

    What This Means For You

    Whether you realize it or not, the structure of our organization does affect the experience you have as a rider. We frequently hear very valuable feedback from our riders about improvements that could be made to our system. When it comes to changing the way our program is operated, we’ve been happy to take rider suggestions into account when expanding the hours our fleet technicians work, looking for new station locations, increasing our operating hours, and improving member outreach. One of the benefits of being a small organization is that we’re able to be flexible in our practices in pursuit of a better rider experience.

    When riders give suggestions for feedback regarding software or hardware, the situation becomes a bit more difficult. To be blunt, there are dozens of improvements that we would love to see made to bikes, stations and software. If the design of our own bikes and software was under our local control, we could implement a range of fixes in the very near future that would significantly improve the customer experience.

    Sometimes, we’re able to take matters into our own hands. One of the most frequent complaints we received from riders was that the official B-cycle mobile app, in a word, sucked. We agreed. Rather than waiting for B-cycle LLC to improve the official app, our staff worked one-on-one with TalentRiot, a local software developer, to produce an app called B-cycle Now that met our standards. We’ll be writing more about B-cycle Now and the generous pro-bono contribution of TalentRiot’s staff time shortly.

    B-cycle Now Screenshot
    If you haven't downloaded it yet, do yourself a favor and get it for iOS or Android.

    Developing a mobile app is one thing, completely redesigning a bike is another. Know that your concerns about software and hardware are being heard, and that we never hesitate to pass your feedback along to B-cycle LLC when needed. The reality is that our supplier is a subsidiary of a very large company, and as such is not subject to the same nimble startup mentality that we are as a small business.

    This having been said, we remain confident that B-cycle LLC is the best provider of bike share equipment in the world—You can read about the trials of systems who selected other vendors here, here and here.

    As always, we welcome any and all feedback on how we’re doing. Email us at info@boulderbcycle.org or call us at 303-532-4412

BroadwayBaseline
© 2016 B-cycle, LLC. All rights reserved. B-cycle and the B-cycle logo are trademarks of B-cycle, LLC.