Shortly after Bay Area Bike Share launched, an intrepid bike person pushed the limits of the system to see how far he could take the system in the proud tradition of hackers everywhere, because that’s what we do. He discovered San Francisco bikes cannot be docked outside of San Francisco.
After some internal investigation, the Bay Area Bike Share people discovered why and disclosed the reason (sort of) in an update to their Frequently Asked Questions.
The FAQ text explains:
San Francisco Bay Area Bike Share bicycles may appear to be identical to bicycles located in the other Bay Area service areas, however, the San Francisco bikes have GPS built into them that is only functional with San Francisco bike share stations. Currently, GPS is not operational but it is anticipated to work soon, so please keep the San Francisco bicycles in San Francisco.
Yes, we know that there’s no good practical reason why anybody would bring a bike share bike down the Peninsula, but we’re an inquisitive bunch in the high tech capital of America. We’re already nagging Bike Share program marketing manager Laura why why why on the GPS use over at Twitter.
built-in GPS? what do they do with the data?
They already record where you checked out and returned the bike. I can imagine the GPS track can help improve bicycle routes along the way. Don’t know why only SF is interested in this data, though.
Built in GPS? Is it PRISM compatible?
It’s great information to have! knowing what streets people are biking on, and where people are going all allows planners to better understand what kinds of improvements need to be made and what streets should be made priorities.
While some of this information can be derived by check-ins and check-outs, this fills in the dots of what happens in between.