New Android widget for cycle hire scheme

Cycle Hire Widget uses crowdsourcing to indicate bike availability

by Martin Thomas   July 28, 2010  

Cycle Hire Widget screenshot

Hot on the heels of the latest iPhone app for the Barclay’s Cycle Hire scheme comes a widget for Android phones that goes one step further – by indicating how many bikes are available to hire at each docking station.

The Cycle Hire Widget from Little Fluffy Toys is a free app for Android phones that uses crowdsourcing to display bike availability – addressing the problem that no third-party developer yet has access to the number of bike available at docking stations.

The system relies on users letting each other know how many bikes are available.

The widget displays the direction and distance of the closest three cycle hire locations, with colour-coloured direction arrows reflecting the known status of each hire location:

  • all OK
  • not enough bikes
  • not enough spaces
  • closed

When touched again, the detail view displays further information about the nearest 20 cycle hire locations. When a location is selected, Google Maps shows walking directions to the hire location from the user’s current location.

Kenton Price, director and chief architect of Little Fluffy Toys, said, "Cycle Hire Widget is a powerful, free application that leverages the goodwill of the cycling community to share with others the availability of cycles at the hire locations, bridging one of the gaps at the scheme’s launch.

"TfL does not currently share details of how many bikes or spaces are available at each location with third-party developers, so Cycle Hire Widget asks its users to report and share this information, a technique known as 'crowdsourcing'.

"When the details screen is opened within 50 metres of a hire location, the user is prompted to provide feedback on the status of the location: all OK, not enough bikes, not enough spaces, or closed. This information is then shared with other users of the widget."

To install this free application, search Android Market for ‘Cycle Hire Widget’. More information is available on the Little Fluffy Toys site.