Bike Safety Launches BU Bike Accident Toolkit
As the next step in an extensive list of safety campaigns undertaken over the past few years, Bike Safety launched the BU Bike Accident Toolkit, a free mobile application available on both the Apple and Android platforms. The app informs cyclists about how to properly report an accident and has several built-in features that make the process far less stressful. The phone’s built-in global positioning system (GPS) can automatically record the location, date and time of the accident. The app also allows the user to create an accident report that captures the driver’s name, license plate number, insurance policy and contact information in addition to photos of any damage incurred and audio witness testimony. The user can even contact police or medical emergency services directly from the app. As bicycle ridership increases, it is important to educate cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians about their rights and responsibilities on the road and this app will serve as a great educational resource.
Biking is a healthful, lower-carbon alternative to driving and is growing in popularity at BU as well as in the Greater Boston Area. In fact, according to Boston Bikes, bicycle ridership in the Boston area has increased 82 percent since 2007. The city now boasts 60 miles of bike lanes, the first of which were installed along Commonwealth Avenue.
Director of Operations for Auxiliary Services, Webb Lancaster, says the University wanted to provide the BU community with a way to document bicycle accidents. Initial research showed existing products did not meet BU’s needs. Unable to find what they wanted, Bike Safety decided to hire a development team to design a brand new application. Many of the existing apps were “produced and distributed by personal injury attorneys and or insurance companies, and we wanted something produced by the bike community and for the bike community,” says Lancaster.
The app is unique not only because it was built with the bike community in mind, but also because of how it leverages the technology already available on most smart phones. By accessing features like GPS and built-in cameras, documentation is much easier and more accurate. The app will also help provide the city with more accurate accident data. Typically, the city is only provided with reports on accidents that require medical dispatch. The app, however, allows user to anonymously submit their accident report to Bike Safety, who then can report it to the police and the city, even if there are no injuries. In fact, the firm that designed the application plans to use it as a model that can be used by other organizations in the future.
Bike Safety has partnered with Landry’s Bicycles as well as bicycle patrol officers from BU, Boston, Brookline and Cambridge to help promote the application. While Lancaster says he hopes that most people won’t need to use it, it will be “very valuable if you’ve been in accident.”