Since New York City launched the CitiBike program last May, commuters trying to use the bike sharing program have struggled to find a bike when they need one, and struggled to find an empty docking space when they’re done with the bikes.
The Gothamist detailed an account of two grown adults racing one another to the last bike docking space one morning. Joel Goldman (pictured right), a student at UPenn, thought this type of shenanigans was avoidable, and even hackable.
He put together a Twilio app called Bike SMS to solve a common problem CitiBike users deal with on a daily basis: the battle to find, and return bikes.
Here’s how BikeSMS works. Let’s say you’re looking for a CitiBike in the East Village. You simply text BikeSMS your location along with the word “bike”. BikeSMS will send you different locations where you can pick up a CitiBike. When you’re all done with the bike, you can text your location and “dock” to see where the nearest docking stations are.
Joel was inspired to build the SMS app after visiting his girlfriend in New York City. She had a feature phone, all the bike location services required her to download an app, so Joel built a workaround that, as he says, “was much easier than relaying that info to her myself.”
You can try out Joel’s app here.