Bike As­sist App

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - by Ron Stang

Mo­torists aren‘t the only ones with road­side help

Diane Freeman, an avid cy­clist and city coun­cil­lor in Water­loo, Ont., was tak­ing part in this plast sum­mer’s Great Wa­ter­front Trail Ad­ven­ture, a 530-km, seven-day ride from Point Pelee Na­tional Park to Toronto’s Rouge Na­tional Ur­ban Park, when she no­ticed her front wheel start­ing to wob­ble. “I stopped to see what the prob­lem was and the tire was es­sen­tially flat,” she said. Freeman, a cy­cling ad­vo­cate, hap­pened to have the Cana­dian Au­to­mo­bile As­so­ci­a­tion’s (caa) Bike As­sist app on her phone. She was just about to use it when a caa rep­re­sen­ta­tive, shad­ow­ing the ride, came by, stopped and called di­rectly for as­sis­tance. But Freeman was glad she had the app, which has been in ex­is­tence for five years. In Freeman’s emer­gency, the re­spond­ing caa tech­ni­cian re­placed the tube and the tire of her oth­er­wise un­dam­aged Spe­cial­ized Vita, she said. Glass caused the tire to fail. “He thought that glass could punch through again if he didn’t re­place the en­tire tire,” Freeman said. She was rolling in roughly 15 min­utes. Most peo­ple nat­u­rally as­sume the caa pro­vides road as­sis­tance strictly for mo­torists. But times change, as do the needs of the caa’s mem­ber­ship. Since more and more mem­bers are also cy­clists, the club thought it pru­dent to de­sign a ser­vice specif­i­cally for them. “We just no­ticed how our mem­ber­ship was grow­ing and shift­ing a lit­tle bit and how peo­ple were open to the idea of mix­ing ve­hi­cles and cy­cling and pub­lic tran­sit,” caa spokes­woman Kris­tine D’ar­belles said. The Bike As­sist app al­lows a mem­ber to ac­cess road as­sis­tance by touch­ing the ex­cla­ma­tion point in the top right cor­ner of the screen. The app also has a tab where you can cre­ate and track a bike route and share it with other rid­ers. And there’s the re­pairs tab, which fea­tures videos giv­ing tips on ba­sic bike re­pair.

The app was pi­o­neered by caa’s South Cen­tral On­tario of­fice in Thorn­hill. Its use, so far, has been con­fined to On­tario. The caa does not have stats on how of­ten the app is used and will be re­launch­ing an up­graded ver­sion in the spring. But Bike As­sist, as a gen­eral ser­vice, is still avail­able for caa mem­bers across Canada with the ex­cep­tions of Saskatchewan and the At­lantic prov­inces, in part a func­tion of their vast and re­mote ge­og­ra­phy.

Mean­while, two-wheeled caa mem­bers can ex­pect the very same ser­vice they’d get if their cars broke down. A re­pair can take place along the side of the road. If it’s com­plex, the cy­clist and her bike could be driven to a bike shop or sim­ply back home.

Un­like for cars, how­ever, don’t ex­pect a tow truck to come to your aid. In ur­ban re­gions es­pe­cially, the caa uses light panel or pick-up trucks. And noth­ing is too triv­ial a re­pair. “I don’t have the knowl­edge so if my chain were to come off, I might be able to fid­dle with it for 10 min­utes, but who knows if I’d be able to fix it,” D’ar­belles said. “So I would be the type of per­son to give caa a call.”

Mean­while, Freeman, a pro­fes­sional en­gi­neer and pro­ject man­ager for an ar­chi­tec­tural firm, cy­cles about 100 km a week – 30 km a day in good weather – rid­ing to work and back home or to her coun­cil­lor’s job at city hall. (In 2009, Freeman helped to bring the first On­tario Bike Sum­mit to her city.)

She says Bike As­sist is par­tic­u­larly use­ful for novice cy­clists. “They can be con­fi­dent that if they do run into prob­lems, they can im­me­di­ately call for as­sis­tance,” she said. But it also helps more ex­pe­ri­enced rid­ers on out­ings like week­end jaunts. “It’s par­tic­u­larly of value if you’re out and away from home,” she added.

“Peo­ple were open to the idea of mix­ing ve­hi­cles and cy­cling and pub­lic tran­sit.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.