After losing too many bikes, hackathon coder creates map of stolen bikes

Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 11.58.04 AMHere’s an example of someone channeling their anger at bike thieves into something valuable. Local coder Chip attended a recent Code for Seattle hackathon and used his experience losing bikes to thieves to inspire a project: An interactive map of bike theft locations.

The map is not fully functional as is, but it’s a good proof of concept.

From his blog post about the experience:

Upon arriving breakfast was served. After grabbing coffee and donuts and mingled for a little, we headed to the main room for Open Data Talks. It opened my eyes that there has been great progress — organizations and individuals are working to make the government’s data more transparent. When Neil whom represents The City of Seattle was giving his talk about metadata at https://data.seattle.gov, the word “stolen bicycle” suddenly flashed in my mind. I had this idea of working on the website about raising awareness about bike thieves after my bicycle get stolen for the third time.

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5 Responses to After losing too many bikes, hackathon coder creates map of stolen bikes

  1. Peri Hartman says:

    This is interesting from an awareness point of view. But what does it really mean? More people leave bikes unlocked in these locations? More people frequent these location, all other factors equal? Thieves frequent these locations more?

  2. jessica says:

    re: Peri–
    I don’t really see any spatial trends in the dots that would let you identify which places have more bike thefts, and especially since not all bike thefts will be reported and show up here, I don’t think it “really means” anything in terms of trends, but it just shows how common bike thefts are.

  3. Josh says:

    Interesting, but it might have wider impact if it weren’t a stand-alone project. Perhaps develop an automated data feed to add these thefts to the existing bike theft, accident, and hazardous conditions map at http://bikewise.org/ ?

  4. Chip says:

    @Peri: I agree with you that the stolen bikes map project is a half-baked project from its intention, because my team and I have only around 4 hours from developing ideas to execute it during the hackathon. Raising awareness is one thing, but we also found out that people post their stolen bikes on Craigslist, and we were wondering why. Probably there’s not a good alternative solution out there now?

    @jessica: Yes I second that. But also currently we have no way of finding out whose bicycles got recovered from the Seattle.gov website. It will be really helpful to see the green pins signifying resolved issue and red pins for unresolved ones. Unfortunately we can’t do that now.

    @Josh: Thanks for sharing the website! I didn’t know Cascade is doing similar things as well, and it’s a good start. One of the cons about hackathons is that most of the projects get left out after the event, so it’s definitely helpful to extend the discussion. Maybe it will be good if we can get all the major local bike shops and cycling community in Seattle to create a main website for this service, and make it an open source project. I am eager to contribute :)

    Warmest regards,
    Chip

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