If you run into a bike safety problem in Oregon and own a smartphone, you no longer need to know who to complain to.
The ORcycle mobile app, a partnership between the Oregon Department of Transportation and Portland State University, has just been hooked up directly to the state’s “Ask ODOT” hotline, which has pledged to forward all reports it receives about bike safety issues to the appropriate local agency — or to its own team, if the road is owned by ODOT.
It’s a huge leap for the project, which has existed in demo form for a year but has been little-used because any reports were stashed for weeks or months under PSU’s supervision rather than piped directly to ODOT, let alone forwarded to other agencies.
Now, however, the free app has been integrated directly into the state agency’s operations.
ORcycle offers categories such as “narrow bike lane,” “no bike lane or shoulder,” “high traffic speed,” “no bike push button,” “long wait time (traffic signal)” and so on. There’s also an “other” category that allows user input.
Hooking the reports up to the existing Ask ODOT service “seemed like a natural partnership when PSU said, ‘Hey, let’s get this to the next level,'” ODOT spokeswoman Shelley Snow said Wednesday.
Ask ODOT’s mandate is to either refer or address any issue within five days of a report. For issues on its own roads, Ask ODOT staff — there are three or four on duty at any given time, Snow said — respond with either an action plan or a clear statement that the agency isn’t able to prioritize a fix.
Snow said reports from the app are unlikely to overwhelm the hotline, which she said already fields “hundreds of phone calls and emails on a daily basis.”
The app also invites people to log “crashes or near misses” and gives users the option to log all their trips automatically, which ODOT hopes is a way to start gathering data about bike traffic flow in the area. Both of those options continue to send data to PSU for eventual review by ODOT but don’t lead directly to ODOT action.
— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Andersen was news editor of BikePortland.org from 2013 to 2016 and still pops up occasionally.