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Multi-modal mapping tool launched

The tool has been developed by Coord, a data mobility company backed by Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs

The tool plots the fastest routes from Greenpoint to Lower East Side, New York
The tool plots the fastest routes from Greenpoint to Lower East Side, New York

A new mapping tool from data mobility company, Coord, that combines bike-share and transit (bus and subway) into one trip, is being rolled out in New York City and Washington DC. Coord is backed by Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs.


The tool allows people to plan a trip using multiple modes of transportation based on live conditions and is supported by Coord’s Routing API and Bike-Share API, which for the first time, will be available to the public for free.


While the Routing API supports trip planning for travels by bike-share, transit, and a combination of the two, the Bike-Share API combines the 65-plus bike-share systems in the country into a single, standard information portal, enabling navigation apps to easily integrate bike-share information into their system.


The developers said that while using multiple modes of transport is common, it can be difficult to figure out what the best options are for a particular trip. In a blog on Medium Corinna Li, product manager at Coord, said: “For instance, none of the major navigation apps currently has bike-share as a travel option, let alone showing the available bikes near you. They also only suggest transit routes if a stop is within reasonable walking distance from the origin and destination.


“This is generally not a bad rule of thumb. However, there are plenty of situations in which taking a bike-share or ride-hail to or from public transit would shorten the travel time. More significantly, it may make traveling by public transit an attractive option, where previously unfeasible.”


Li pointed out that the reason for the lack of these modal options lies largely in the apps’ routing algorithms and the data available to the router. She added that to be able to recommend trips by bike-share, a router first needs accurate information about the location and availability of shared bikes and docks: “This information is scattered and, in some cities, not publicly available. Computational complexity is another challenge.


“There are also many ways to combine transit and first/last-mile services; this is especially a challenge when incorporating dockless shared bikes, as they can be dropped off almost anywhere. Should you stay on the bike the whole way or switch to transit? Which subway station or bus stop should you ride the bike to?.”


The router only suggests such a trip if there is a bike available near the user at that moment, and, for docked systems (such as Capital Bikeshare and Citi Bike), if there is at least one empty dock near their destination so they can check in the bike at the end of the trip. The router also takes into account dockless bike-shares’ service areas  where users are allowed to drop off a bike.


Coord is working on adding predictive insights in future versions of the tool to allow for changes in bike or dock availability.


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