Neighborland and GOOD Ideas for Cities held a sold out event at the New Orleans Museum of Art on July 12th that featured the results of months long projects focused on four challenges facing the City of New Orleans:
- Non-automobile transportation.
- Affordable, accessible, and sustainable healthy food.
- Disrepair of street corners.
- Food truck politics and opportunities.
Groups worked with various community groups including Bike Easy, Transport for NOLA, Sci Academy, the New Orleans Food Truck Coalition, and Grow Dat Youth Farm. The projects presented during the event were at various stages of completion, but one that struck me as particularly interesting was BikeBusNOLA.com.
The website is a free service optimized for mobile use that provides quick and easy directions for combining a bike ride with a bus ride. The creators noted that Google Maps is a great way to get just public transportation directions or just biking directions, but does a poor job of displaying transportation opportunities involving both mediums.
To test out the service, I requested “Bike and Bus” directions from our Silicon Bayou News office here at Launch Pad out to UNO’s Lakefront campus. The directions told me how to bike to the nearest bus stop that would bring me straight to UNO:
The site also provides streetcar directions, bike only directions, and walking directions. For those without smartphones, the product is also set up to work via SMS text message. Users can text
HELP to (504) 322–4900 and then texting “[Start location] to [finish location]“. Users will receive a text back with simple directions. Further details are available on their SMS help page.
The project is open source and community funded. The site is currently funded for a few months thanks to GOOD Ideas for Cities and Artplace, but will need to raise additional funds or be taken over by a community organization to maintain operations.
This is a great example of a manageable and meaningful technical solution to a community problem. Props to Joel Carranza and the whole team that worked hard to make this site a reality for citizens of New Orleans.