App is Rx for roof-rack wreck

  • Article by: JEFF STRICKLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 5, 2012 - 8:10 AM
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This could end badly for the driver who forgets about the bikes when pulling into the garage. A new app sends drivers a warning message a few moments before returning home.

Don't want to be reminded you strapped your bike to the car roof by the sound of a sickening crunch when you pull into the garage? Look to your phone.

It comes a little too late for Bill Pauling. Returning from one of many bike trips last summer, he tried to pull into his garage to disastrous results for the vehicle, bicycle and garage door. His fellow cyclists could empathize: Two of them had done the same thing.

"It turned out that a lot of people had done it," he said. "The roof racks are so secure that you forget that the bikes are up there. And not just bikes; it happens with canoes and kayaks and cargo holders, too."

Pauling, who runs Tuesday Networking, a Minneapolis Web-based real estate service, figured that forgetful folks like him needed a warning system. With the help of friend Nils Hansen, who owns Twin Cities-based Impel Design, they came up with Bikesavr. Users activate it when they load their bikes (or whatever) atop their cars. As they approach their homes, the app reminds them that the roof rack is in use.

"This was the first app for us, so it was a great learning experience," he said. "Using the app is fairly simple, but making it turned out to be much harder than we expected. Each phone, each network and each operating system is a little different. We did a lot of driving around, checking to make sure it would work everywhere."

The app, launched two weeks ago, is available for 99 cents from www.bikesavr.com.

"We realize that at that price, we're going to have to sell quite a few of them to recoup our money," Pauling said. "We probably won't [break even], but it was more about doing a fun project with a friend than making money." Besides, even if they end up in the red, he figures that it probably still will be cheaper than the cost of another rack-related garage mishap.

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