Bike sharing, a common form of collective transportation outside the US, has started gaining traction in the US. A recent addition to the bike sharing scene, viaCycle, approaches the market differently than its competitors and hopes that its innovative approach will make it the Zipcar of bike sharing. viaCycle differentiates itself by combining the community aspect of bike sharing with "cutting edge IT." Within the IT competitive advantage lies the viaCycle API available for third-party app development.
viaCycle launched as a cheaper alternative to bike sharing programs that require expensive docking stations, because its technological approach allows its bikes to attach to any bike rack, anywhere. However, the API increases the appetite for partners/users, because developers can integrate viaCycle data into their existing applications. Data available via the API includes bike locations, bike availability, and additional information that can easily integrate into existing or new applications.
viaCycle uses a REST protocol and JSON data format. Location data and availability are two of the potential integration points for developers. Additionally, viaCycle locks can be controlled through a smartphone, extending the integration possibilities. For more information on the API, visit the developer site.
As many bike sharing programs do, viaCycle started with a focus on big cities and large universities. viaCycle has beta sites in Atlanta and San Francisco. Additionally, Georgia Tech and George Mason have joined as partners. However, opening themselves to the developer community via an API should attract attention, and viaCycle may experience a spike in demand soon.