What if your commute could be a bicycle ride through parks and side streets? It would produce less traffic anxiety, improve your personal health, negate noise pollution, and improve the environment. While obviously bicycle commuting is not appropriate for those with a long stretch of highway between home and job, many people have bicyclable routes which can cover commutes to jobs and around town shopping trips. Of course electric bicycles make bicycling a little more practical (especially bicycling to work). However it takes some hunting to find the good bicycling routes.
Some cities and transit agencies provide not just public transit route maps, but also bicycling maps.
Maps and directions services like Google Maps give directions from point A to point B, but they neglect to give directions for other transit modes. The lack of driving directions for other transit modes reinforces the car-centric way of life. Google Maps does provide travel information for mass transit and walking, but not bicycling. The Google Maps walking directions will often be usable for bicycling but of course there are things a bicyclist can do that a pedestrian cannot, and of course the walking time estimates are completely wrong for bicyclists.
Another issue is the lack of some kinds of localized knowledge in map services like Google Maps. A pedestrian or bicyclist can take short cuts that aren’t open to cars. For example San Francisco has a series of public stairs on some of the steep hills, they cannot be taken by cars, would not appear on a car-oriented map, but are perfectly usable by pedestrians and bicyclists. In other areas parks and walkways exist threading walkable (and bicyclable) paths throughout a city that are invisible to car-centric mapping services.
A different approach is the Open Street Map project. Rather than a top-down delivering of maps from a centralized service, the Open Street Map is a grass roots community oriented project to create maps. The information in Open Street Maps is collected by individuals who volunteer time to collect the data, draw it onto the maps, and maintain the OpenStreetMap services. It is run in the style of open source software projects and the data collected by OpenStreetMap is reusable for other projects. Hence localized knowledge can be collected by local individuals. One of the projects is the OpenCycleMap. This is a map of known good cycling routes.
Of course being a volunteer organization neither OpenStreetMap nor OpenCycleMap are complete. They are only as complete as the volunteers who add data to the maps. Which means if you want good quality maps of bicycling routes in your neighborhood, you can very well add that data yourself.
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