With great fanfare and publicity, Mayor Walsh launched the “Boston’s Safest Driver Competition“. You download an app to start to playing.

I should point out that distracted driving is a big problem on our roads. Apps are a big part of that problem. On my bike, I see a large number of drivers staring at the apps on their phone while driving.

The first thing I noticed on the competition’s app is that there was no button to start logging trips. The app is tracking your location and movement in the background. Constantly.

That is, you are constantly providing your location to the City of Boston government by installing this app.

The privacy policy has a lengthy description of how the data is collected. The “data collected in this competition is anonymized within sixty (60) days after the competition ends.” The app manufacturer has its own privacy policy that is short on detail.

You need to get over the big privacy issues if you want to use the app.

It’s not that I have big concerns about privacy. I regularly post by bike commutes and bike rides: See Strava. But, I prefer to manually tell apps when they are allowed to access my location. Strava also allows me to put a cone of privacy around locations. For example, my house is in a cone of privacy. You can tell generally where I live, but not enough to knock on my front door. (Or break in through the back door after I’ve left on  bike commute.)

I’m interested in showing Boston that lots of people commute by bike so I’m reluctantly getting past the privacy issues to log my commutes for the city.

So far I have one bike commute and one train commute. More to come.


The competition is open to City of Boston residents and residents in the 100 other cities and towns that make up the Metro Boston area. There are two sets of rules, one set of contest rules for residents of Boston and a second set for Metro Boston.