Bike-to-transit mobile trip planner launches in Portland

nimbler screenshots

A free app that uses the open-source software behind TriMet’s much-heralded Trip Planner has just brought multimodal trip planning to Portland iPhones.

Nimbler, a California-based startup that already has similar apps in place for San Francisco and Washington DC, combines public transit schedules, bike routes and (in other cities) bike share station info to make it easy to combine bike and transit trips.

As we wrote after Nimbler launched in San Francisco last year, this is a job that even Google Maps can’t do yet: advising someone traveling from Kenton to Milwaukie, for example, to bring a bike on the Yellow Line so they can quickly connect to the 70 bus at Lloyd Center.

Nimbler’s creator, John Canfield, hopes the app will remove a barrier to using the two modes in combination to make low-car transportation more efficient.


“Subway maps are pretty easy to understand,” Canfield told us in 2013. “Once you get buses into that, things get a lot more complicated. … When you add bicycle to that, and the bike-bus transit option, there are just so many combinations.”

Third-party apps like this are exactly why TriMet, in a project funded by Metro, co-managed by the company behind Streetsblog and contributed to by developers around the world, created the country’s first open-source trip planner. That software is already being used in transit planning apps around the world.

When TriMet’s Open Trip Planner launched in 2011, local transit-app developer Chris Smith predicted that “within five years a majority of transit agencies in North America will be using variations of it.” For whatever reason, that hasn’t happened yet. Instead, it seems to be the basis for many new private trip planning solutions like this one.

And speaking of private transportation: if only Nimbler could figure out how to get Nike Bike Share into its system.

— Check out Nimbler in the iTunes App Store.

Michael Andersen (Contributor)

Michael Andersen (Contributor)

Michael Andersen was news editor of from 2013 to 2016 and still pops up occasionally.

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9 years ago

Any plans for Android?

Shyla O.
9 years ago
Reply to  Blake

Came here to ask that

Dave W.
9 years ago

Ah, cool to hear! Wish I could program. 🙂

9 years ago

IPhone only? Say it ain’t so!

9 years ago

This is a GREAT app, especially for people who use several modes (e.g. bike, then MAX, then bike some more).

Dave W.
9 years ago

If/when available for Android, would totally love to check out! Just sent some suggestions to one of the TriMet Hackathon people, and she recommended this app.

As someone who often takes trips using both bike and bus, I’d love to see an app for multimodal trip planning that a) allows me to put in more than one mode of transit for the same trip (e.g., bike and bus), b) allows me to set maximum desired cycling distances at either end of the trip, and c) that shifts navigation modes easily as I shift modes of transportation during the trip.

Currently, I occasionally use TriMet’s multimodal trip planner, but then I often need to shift over to Google maps and re-enter my destination data to get real-time GPS guidance for the remainder of my trip via bike after I get off the bus. Also, that planner isn’t very smartphone-friendly at all, so I sometimes have to start out on my laptop before leaving the house.

Or, I’ll use just Google maps and just bike where it says to walk, but it doesn’t have the ability to set longer “walk” distance thresholds that are more suitable to cycling. So sometimes Google maps will suggest a trip where there’s a transfer and 2nd bus or Max leg that actually is quicker/easier to bike, so I end up having to manually re-enter data and reconfigure the remainder of my trip from bus to cycling after getting off at the transfer point.

Another awesome thing (icing on the cake; above would already be amazing) would be the ability to tell whether the next bus has both bike racks already full. Hope that helps a bit with future planning!