Tour de Lab September 1st

Started in Portland, The Ride App’s ride is over

Posted by on August 5th, 2019 at 9:24 am

Screenshot of Ride.App.

A popular smartphone app created in Portland that tracks cycling trips and allows users to rate their rides will shut down at the end of August. Local tech entrepreneur and CEO of Ride Report William Henderson says he’s shifted the focus of his business and Ride App isn’t in his company’s future plans.

Ride App was a free ride-tracking-and-rating app that ran on users’ Apple or Android smartphones. It would automatically (and anonymously) log bicycle trips and give users the ability to quickly rate their rides. The idea was to not only understand which bikeways people preferred, but their general level of satisfaction with them.

Ride App has recorded over 12 million miles of trips since its launch in 2015.

“Winding down the app is extremely bittersweet for me.”
— William Henderson, Ride Report CEO and co-founder

“When we started Ride Report more than 5 years ago, we had a vision to empower cities with software to get more people biking,” Henderson shared in an open letter to app users this morning. “We also created tools to cities so they could leverage anonymized data to better understand where people were biking and how they felt while riding.”

Henderson, a graduate of Reed College and creator of Knock to Unlock, turned his talents toward transportation tools in 2014. His company’s first product was a novel device for counting bicycle trips that was promising enough it caught the attention of the City of Portland’s Bureau of Transportation. The app was created to complement the counter. Henderson’s goal was to have thousands of “rolling bikeway evaluators” that could help cities analyze and develop new cycling infrastructure while giving users encouragement to ride more by doling out playful badges for various riding milestones.

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William Henderson during his 2018 Alice Award acceptance speech.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland).

In April 2018 PBOT purchased 200 Ride Report bicycle trip sensors and installed them all over town. Data from the Ride app was used to evaluate projects like Better Naito Forever, the Central City in Motion plan, and many others.

Henderson’s latest focus is to give cities more power to manage the mountain of data created by users of shared electric bikes and scooters. His Ride Report “micromobility management” is now used by more than 30 cities worldwide. Last November Ride Report raised $3.4 million in venture funding.

The shuddering of the Ride app is necessary so that Henderson and his growing team can focus all their energy on Ride Report. The app will be removed from the App Store and Google Play on September 1st and will no longer be supported. The company says individual user data will be destroyed from their servers and will not be sold or given to any company or third party.

“Winding down the app is extremely bittersweet for me,” Henderson shared in an email to BikePortland last week. “I’ve put a ton of time, love and money into it. I also know many community members (including many readers of BikePortland) who have been dedicated users and supporters. Thank you for all your support!”

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

24 Comments
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    John Lascurettes August 5, 2019 at 9:42 am

    I’m confused, isn’t the Ride App critical in providing the evaluation part of the Ride Report from the riders themselves?

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      Josh August 5, 2019 at 10:01 am

      > Henderson’s latest focus is to give cities more power to manage the mountain of data created by users of shared electric bikes and scooters.
      Looks like their going to focus more on services where the ride is already tracked.

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        Josh August 5, 2019 at 10:02 am

        *they’re going to

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    Trask August 5, 2019 at 10:17 am

    Is there another app that automagically tracks rides? I definitely loved that feature of Ride.

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    maxD August 5, 2019 at 10:21 am

    I downloaded the app after reading about it here, thinking that all my rides around the City may have some positive influence on City decisions about what routes to improve. It turned out that I really enjoyed tracking my miles. I use ride with GPS, but I don’t turn it on unless the ride is 15 miles or longer. I was interested in how all the commutes and errands added up, and I found it motivating to make extra errands via bike, or take longer routes when I had the time. At the end of the year, I made a new year’s resolution to hit 200 miles every month and get over 3600 miles for the year. I was on track until July, when the app stopped tallying my rides. I am pretty disappointed to hear they are shutting down, and I wonder if anyone has found a good replacement that auto-tracks rides, doesn’t drain the battery, and keeps things anonymous.

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      John Lascurettes August 5, 2019 at 10:36 am

      Mine is still tracking rides (just tracked one this morning). But yeah, it was nice to have every little errand captured.

      I’m also upset that it won’t catch the “cow paths” of people’s habits anymore, seeing what people’s actual riding habits are. Now cities will only get data where the’ve already put the sensors and never capture the habits of people where the sensors aren’t.

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      Chris August 6, 2019 at 1:55 pm

      Mine stopped working in July too and I wrote them and deleted/reinstalled with no luck. Bummer, it was great running in the background and tracking my mileage. I would love to find something that was as easy to run as this.

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    mh August 5, 2019 at 10:31 am

    NOOOO! No one cares to know the routes people who ride all the time choose to travel? I installed this app BECAUSE PBOT was using the data. Even though it’s been troubled (and unsupported) for a while, it’s still better than Metro’s “Commute track” through “get there.”

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    Carter Kennedy August 5, 2019 at 10:34 am

    “The shuddering of the Ride app…” Surely you must mean shuttering.

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      GlowBoy August 5, 2019 at 11:10 am

      I shuddered at that myself.

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    bikeninja August 5, 2019 at 10:37 am

    We all do what we have to do to put bread on the table, but it is a shame that like so many beneficial and socially liberating uses for the internet it has been caste aside in favor of stuff that makes money. I get it, the massive collection of wires, chips and electricity has to be paid for some how, but I am old enough to remember when people had higher hopes for the internet than cat videos, intrusive advertising and running battery powered toys on the street. It seems that one by one the good stuff is replaced by Schlock. At least we still have Bike Portland.

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      mh August 5, 2019 at 1:03 pm

      Indeed, we still have BikePortland, and that, too, needs money to survive. Are you a financial supporter? I don’t see a badge under your name, but you can get one.

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    CaptainKarma August 5, 2019 at 1:01 pm

    …And just like that- a wonderful tool is gone. I see this as another sign of the marginalization of human powered mobility to the e-bike, e-scooter crowd. Bicyclists have fought for the infrastructure since the beginning, always having to cede it back to the motor, it appears.

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    Todd Boulanger August 5, 2019 at 1:02 pm

    To think back – 5 years – as to what they helped start in the US as to access to grassroots generation of transportation data…this area of mirco-mobility planning has come a long way.

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    Todd Boulanger August 5, 2019 at 1:05 pm

    Jonathan – check out their press page, this seems to be a well telegraphed move via the trade press … they want to be the “UL” (Underwriters Laboratories, etc.) of shared micro-mobility data and how such companies meet their contractual service outcomes. https://my.ridereport.com/press

    https://my.ridereport.com/ride-report-bird-lime

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    esther August 5, 2019 at 2:29 pm

    I had just commented on an older ride.report related article here the other day that i had noticed how ride seemed to have totally borked the map integration in the last update, and was asking if anyone had suggestions for alternative automatic ride-logging apps. Sounds like no one does have a good suggestion… but please speak up if you do!
    I had been looking forward to getting more of those silly Portland-only badges too. Still can’t figure out what time of the night “wee hours” is if a 3am ride didn’t get me that one…

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      dudeluna August 5, 2019 at 3:08 pm

      i don’t see the wee hours trophy! but i like that i have the “partying partying YEAH!” trophy 13 times!

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        emeeeeeeeeeeee August 5, 2019 at 10:10 pm

        Why does this not surprise me? I got it only 11 times. But did YOU get the, “Oh, good show! That’s a spiffing good look, old bean?” trophy?

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    George Dorn August 6, 2019 at 11:29 am

    It’d be nice if instead of killing it, they open-sourced the app and server instead.

    Of course, given how most startups just glue together other services, self-hosting the server probably means paying a dozen other startups for access to their SaaS tools.

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      DalePalmer August 6, 2019 at 2:09 pm

      Right on board with you George, I said the same thing without realizing you said it.

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    DalePalmer August 6, 2019 at 2:07 pm

    I wish it could just be taken over as an open source project. I’m sure a lot of work was put into the app and it probably is too cumbersome to handle such a project if you don’t have a reason to update it (using another companies tracking software). However, I don’t think this means it doesn’t have value. It would be great to see it absorbed by someone like Bike Index and maintained as a solution for smaller communities interested in bike data.

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    Shane August 6, 2019 at 2:17 pm

    This is really unfortunate. I’ve been using Ride Report in Eugene since it was first available and here at the City of Eugene we were even using it (like PBOT) for several different aspects and were hoping to integrate it into other projects and programs in the future. Such a missed opportunity.

    I’ve tried a few other alternatives. The only one that does the automagical tracking that is even close is the “Miles” app, which has some cool ‘rewards’ and some that are pretty spammy and commercial. You also can’t rate your rides and give the great feedback that Ride Report allowed.

    ODOT also recently released their new transportation options app in partnership with Ride Amigos. It’s called “CommuteTrack” and is part of their Get There! program. It does some automagic tracking as well as carpooling (and bike pooling) matching and has “Rewards” and “Challenges” that will continue to grow. So some good potential with that App though it’s not doing what Ride Report did.

    Anyone else have other app recommendations?

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    Johnny Bye Carter August 7, 2019 at 9:19 am

    Finally, some closure!

    I really wanted to use this app when it came out. But since they didn’t design it for the largest phone population I had to wait. Why do start-ups target the smaller user base?

    I finally was reminded about it at some point after my phone became supported and installed it. It ate my battery like a monster so I uninstalled it. Then when I got a newer phone I reinstalled it and didn’t have the battery issue.

    It worked OK but had a lot of issues with detecting my mode of travel so I was always having to correct it. The problem was that earlier this year the UI became useless because it would crash it you tried to open any trip to view it or correct it.

    I uninstalled it months ago.

    I miss having it because it really was a decent motivator. But I certainly don’t miss the lack of support and hassle it caused.

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      John Lascurettes August 8, 2019 at 6:17 pm

      ‘Why do start-ups target the smaller user base?”

      largest user base ≠ largest active user base. Nearly everyone who gets a new phone is buying smartphone today, because that’s just what they give you unless you’re a self-declared luddite. A minority of those are purposeful about the specific model they buy — whether Android or iOS. My mother in law has and Adroid; she has no idea how to use it like a smartphone. Even for those meaning to buy specific Android phones, the OS ecosystem is wildly fractured; whereas, within a few to several weeks, 80% or more of iOS users will be on the latest system because Apple can feed updates to users without carriers playing middleman. That makes it much much easier to develop and work out the kinks with a 1.0 product on iOS.

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