Adrian Short

Boris Bikes API

What Realtime data access for London’s Barclays Cycle Hire system
When 2010 - present

Video: UCL Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis

When London’s Barclays Cycle Hire launched in July 2010 one thing was missing: a way for developers to build apps that showed available bikes and empty docking stations. I took the opportunity to help get developers started by building this realtime API which serves data in CSV, JSON and XML formats.

My API scrapes data from Transport for London’s map and caches it on my server. This takes the strain off TfL’s site which in the early days was quite unreliable due to early-adopter enthusiasm.

The video above shows a realtime visualisation of available bikes running in Google Earth using live data generated by my API.

Though TfL now offers an official realtime data service, my API is still useful for developers who want to get started straight away without waiting for approval. My API also offers a wider range of data formats: TfL’s feed is XML only.

Users of my API include the realtime Oyster Card travel game Chromaroma and City University.