In Seattle, one scientist has created a bicycle used to study the quality of his regular route. By attaching a video recorder to the front of his bicycle, scientist Colin Dietrich was able to count the number of cracks in the sidewalk.

But it didn’t stop there, as soon Dietrich added accelerometers and a Wi-Fi network in order to obtain massive amounts of data regarding his bike project.

Eventually, his project attracted the attention of others, and the city of Seattle started using Dietrich’s data in order to improve its “Bicycle Master Plan”.

Dietrich’s bicycle is known as the DataCycle, but it is commonly nicknamed the “Frankenbike”.

Last summer, the Frankenbike was taken on a series of rides in order to map out 40 miles of bicycle trails in Seattle. By doing this, researchers were able to keep track of potholes, overgrown vegetation and other less than ideal riding conditions.

With this information, the city will be able to take proper measure to improve upon its bicycle trails. City officials plan to release an upgrade plan for the trails in December.

According to Dietrich, he knew that problems he faced on his routine bicycle rides would never get fixed unless he started recording the issues firsthand. That’s what led him to mounting the video camera on his bicycle. From there, the project just simply took on a life of its own.  

The Frankenbike has the frame of a proven old road bicycle, and Dietrich says that the addition of hardware has not affected its maneuverability. However, he has said that looking at its tablet screen while riding can prove to be distracting.  He says that the bicycle is more of a “portable laboratory” than a feasible app that anyone could utilize.

Meanwhile, the Seattle Department of Transportation says that this data is particularly valuable when it comes to determining what changes need to be made to the city’s bicycle trails.

While the Frankenbike has proven to be quite successful so far, Dietrich says that he is working on making an improved version in the near future.

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