An app to help Londoners and visitors to the city find out the location and availability of bikes under the capital's new cycle hire scheme has been designed for Android smartphones.
See the app in action in the clip below
Developer Little Fluffy Toys' Cycle Hire Widget harvests information in part from the Transport for London (TfL) public data as well as crowdsourcing to ensure that it can be as accurate as possible.
Kenton Price of Little Fluffy Toys told the Guardian: "We also chose the tiniest widget you can choose – a 1x1 that takes 1/16th of one of your home screen.
"Into that we've packed information about the nearest three locations, including the direction and distance and the colour-coded known status of that location: green for all OK, red for closed, orange for not enough bikes, yellow for not enough slots."
He added: "If we don't have info from TfL then we can use crowdsourced info. If a user is within 50 metres of a hire location that doesn't have recent TfL data, s/he will be prompted to report back on its status. That info is then shared with other users."
TfL has actively sought the help of app developers to encourage the production of cycle hire apps for all the major platforms and it has even slackened its data sharing rules in order to make finding bikes easier, although Mr Price is not convinced that this has made it any easier for enterprising app creators to get the job done.
A TfL spokesperson explained that it was working to ensure that its own information on bike locations and availability was accurate before sharing it with third party app developers. It hopes that it will eventually be able to offer a complete picture of where hire bikes are located, but for now it is encouraging firms to work with what little they have in the hope of getting wider access in the future.