While there are numerous websites to help Cary residents navigate their way to the right school or house, it can be hard to find the local trail that best suits their biking or hiking needs.
To serve the town’s most active, tech-savvy residents, Cary recently launched the free Bike and Hike mobile app on Apple and Google Play.
The app is the first of its kind for the town’s parks and recreation department. The town has two other apps: JouleBug, which offers tips for eco-friendly living, and TransLoc, which shows where C-Tran buses are located.
A page on Cary’s website lists the town’s 37 greenways. But it doesn’t organize them by length, surface material or bikeability.
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The Bike and Hike app “allows the user to search for a bike route or greenway trail using criteria that they define,” said Juliet Andes, Cary’s facilities planning manager.
For instance, hikers can select one of three options – paved greenways, greenway loops, natural surface trails – for their preferred trail type. They can also choose a trail based on features such as kiosks, disc golf courses, picnic shelters and bathrooms.
The app includes profiles of each trail.
The town paid Washington-based tech firm Vitasys $40,990 to develop the app. The money came from voter-approved bonds in 2012.
Town staff proposed the app after a survey of 520 people showed 445 residents, or 85 percent, said they supported the idea for the project, Andes said. The Cary Town Council approved the project last January.
“Cary’s population is very tech-savvy and well educated, so we thought this sort of technology would appeal to them,” Andes said. “We’re excited to give them another tool to explore the town’s hiking and biking opportunities.”
The app is based on a popular paper map that’s available at many town trails, Andes said. The town orders 15,000 maps and runs out every year, she said.
“We can’t keep enough copies,” Andes said.
The app should prove even more useful than the map because it’s more detailed, has more photos and can be accessed from anywhere, she said.
“It can be kind of overwhelming to look at a greenway map and try to figure out what connects,” said Gene Meade, president of the North Carolina Roadrunners Club.
Meade, who lives in Fuquay-Varina, said he knows a few people in Cary who will appreciate the app’s ability to locate trails near the user and sort the trails by surface material.
“That’s a pretty neat feature,” he said.
Members of Cary’s Greenway Committee and Information Services Advisory Board have been testing and tweaking the app, Andes said.
Some Android users have encountered problems with the app, she said. The developer is in the process of fixing those problems.
Apple users, meanwhile, occasionally have trouble finding the app in the App Store, she said. Though the app is called Bike and Hike, users should type “Bike and Hike Cary” in the App Store search bar to find it.