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Take a photo, take back the streets with OurStreets

Nothing makes us wish we were on a bike more than seeing photos of someone else’s ride. Whether it’s picturesque views, the delicious donuts they found along the way, or a smiling selfie at a stop light that shows a peloton of bike commuters, photos capture the joy of biking. 

Photos can also capture the not-so-great things about biking–things that unite us in frustration: the nail in the tire, the unexpected road closure, or the car blocking the bike lane. In the moment, we may not feel like we can change the situation, but what if that photo of a car blocking a bike lane could be part of a larger movement? That’s exactly what the creators of OurStreets set out to do. 

We know that “momentary” disruptions like a blocked bike lane or crosswalk can be more than annoying–they can be incredibly dangerous. Documenting dangerous driver behavior might not get that delivery truck to move in that moment, but it will help us work with advocates, cities and lawmakers to build the infrastructure for safer streets for everyone. It’s why we’re proud to announce the League is partnering with OurStreets to scope the totality of dangerous driver behavior that bicyclists face on a daily basis across the country.

All reports to OurStreets feed into a dashboard that will allow League staff to easily gather insights overlaid with crash data, citation data and other relevant data sources to drive our advocacy for safer streets. We will be working with the OurStreets team to dive deeper into the data and tell unique stories that OurStreets reports will be able to facilitate. The OurStreets team has also partnered with local League-member advocacy groups like the Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, Bike Baton Rouge, Bike Pittsburgh, Bike Indianapolis, Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling, and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association to connect regional reports to OurStreets directly to local advocates. 

OurStreets is available now for download on both Android and iOS and crowdsources the reporting of dangerous driving like blocking of bike lanes and crosswalks, near misses and aggressive driving. The OurStreets team goal is to work directly with key stakeholders in the Pittsburgh area and beyond to drive advocacy, aid enforcement efforts and infrastructure projects, and make our streets safer for all. 

We encourage you to download and use OurStreets on a regular basis and spread the word. Check out some of the app’s features and an FAQ below!

Attendees at the 2020 National Bike Summit will have a chance to take part in a hands-on workshop to document bike lane infractions in the city. Register today! 

What’s Next?

Be on the lookout for more announcements about this exciting partnership and register to attend the National Bike Summit to hear from the OurStreets team in person. If you want more frequent updates from the OurStreets team, follow them on Social Media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) and sign up for their newsletter on their website.

FAQ via the OurStreets team 

What if I can’t take a photo of an aggressive driver? 

Snapping a photo is not always possible, which is why everything in the OurStreets app is adjustable and/or optional.

What if I don’t have time to upload a photo right away? I have a lot of old photos, too. 

The app can use a photo’s timestamp and location, so users can snap a photo and submit when it’s safe and convenient. This means you can add your entire backlog of dangerous driving photos to OurStreets! (We know some of you have plenty on your phone!) 

What’s the best way to get engaged if there are no local stakeholders currently partnering with OurStreets?

There are 3 great ways for you to ensure your OurStreets submissions are having a maximum impact:

  • Encourage your local advocacy org to partner with OurStreets. Advocacy organizations are eligible to get free access to OurStreets Advocate, a platform that gives organizations real-time access to OurStreets data in aggregate to drive their advocacy for safer streets.
  • Reach out to your local elected officials and municipal stakeholders. Don’t have a local organization for OurStreets to work with? Reach out to your local elected officials and municipal stakeholders like enforcement and transportation departments and encourage them to work with OurStreets directly.
  • Buy OurStreets merch. You can buy OurStreets t-shirts (for men, women, and youth), tank tops and hoodies. 100% of proceeds go to our advocacy partners, and percent of the proceeds will be based on number of submissions, so the more you use OurStreets, the more money your advocacy organization will receive. 
Should I be reporting infrastructure issues (ie crosswalk not painted) to OurStreets?

OurStreets is focused on momentary safety issues that would not be captured otherwise help make our streets safer. If you have a public infrastructure concern, we recommend you make a 311 or similar request in your municipality.

Does using the app violate any private policy laws?

As a private person, it is completely lawful to photograph and log dangerous driving activity on public streets.

What should I do if someone confronts me while using the app?

The best way to avoid confrontation and generally stay safe is to quickly snap a photo and enter the submission into the app at your convenience. If you are confronted by a motorist or bystander, OurStreets recommends that you simply state that you’re part of a research project on street safety. Since no direct enforcement action will be taken based on a single submission, this is a truthful response.

What happens with the data that’s collected from the app?

It depends on the partnerships we have in place in your area. As a baseline, the League will be using all OurStreets data to help drive its general advocacy for safer streets with local and regional advocacy organizations acting in kind. OurStreets endeavors to contract directly with municipalities to integrate app submissions in aggregate into enforcement and infrastructure  planning frameworks. Once at scale, OurStreets data will likely be used by third parties like transportation planners, researchers and insurance companies — all in an effort to make our streets safer.

Does OurStreets collect personally identifiable information from its users?

No. OurStreets does not collect any personal information like name or email address. Soon, OurStreets will be adding a settings menu for you to provide optional demographic information, which will be valuable for cities and researchers looking to use OurStreets data. In the future, OurStreets will also have optional accounts that will enable you to bring your submissions with you between phones and other premium features, but such an account will never be required.