Web Mapping Tools

Google map's bike routes optionIn this post we take a look at a few web mapping tools of particular interest to cyclists. We’ll be taking a look at mobile apps shortly, but in the meantime the web is chock full of very useful web apps (which run in a browser) for the cyclists interested in mapping routes and tracking workouts. Enjoy – and be sure to drop a line with great web apps we haven’t mentioned.

What else can you say about Google Maps the world’s most intelligent (if not most intuitive) map app? It was fantastic even before streetview allowed us to check out road conditions ahead of time; now the bikemap checkbox (under “more”) reveals designated bike lanes.

Google Maps is great for mapping our own routes (at above) and saving them under ‘my maps’ (if you’re logged in). You can use your own maps to mark and share routes and even create your own map and post it to Better Bike BH! That’s how I made our Better Bike BH map.

Open Street Map is an alternative to Google Maps that lets you map key features, like that cafe you like or bike shops or whatever. Unlike Google Maps, it’s completely open source and community-maintained, and it has a great look to it.

DIY Maps

Bikemap.net screenshotBikemap.net (left) is one of the most ingenuous plan-your-route maps out there. It uses open streetmap instead of Google’s base map (streetmap is more aesthetically pleasing) and adds fantastic tools like a terrain and climb dashboard for your route. Excellent.

Gmaps my route screenshotGmaps Pedometer (right) is a more rough implementation of the open streetmap, but it focuses more exclusively on distance (hence the ‘pedometer’). But it does get the job done. I’ve mapped my route in segments so I can break it down in case I do a partial. It’s easy to use and it will store your map(s) for easy retrieval. Here you can see my own route pictured.

Bikely and MapMyRide are two additional route mapping tools that both require joining/login. But both feature a library of user-defined routes and so may be worth a look. They operate in the ‘share my ride’ spirit. “Chances are, someone has cycled that way before you. Bikely makes it easy for him or her to show you the best way,” the site says. Indeed they have! Both sites are chock-full of pre-defined routes.

Bikely screenshotBikely (at left) makes it easy to browse routes by geography. Bikely also has a nice feature that allows the viewer to ‘step’ through the route and see the mileage covered. Each route can be characterized (‘recreational,’ ‘training,’ etc.) which makes browsing fun.  Many European routes are included.

The ‘breadcrumbs’ link-back at the top makes it a cinch to scale back up to state or country. Google provides the base map. The interface is functional and utilitarian.

Map my ride screenshotMapMyRide (right) marries an easy-to-use interface (a little ‘bloggy’) with a nice filter tool that begins with geography – the city, say – and allows for filtering based on ride. MapMyRide also takes a broader view of ‘ride,’ including horse rides, dog walks, and skate routes. The route inspection window allows a topographic view of the route, displays elevation, and allows the viewer to click through to the next route in that specific geography. A very nice design on a good little mapper.

Accident and Hazard Maps

Two great interactive maps making tracking bike hazards easier than ever – and one is homegrown! These are both great tools that link reported incidents to places to highlight 1) where the most incidents occur and 2) that cyclists are not safe anywhere! But the key is use them. I have suffered two falls and one collision, and I didn’t know how to report them online, and so I didn’t. Now I do know, and so should you!

LABikemap with mapped incidents screenshotLA Bike Map (at left) is Alex Thompson’s intelligent DIY effort to log road hazards and bike incidents. The map lets you see how they distribute across space, and even how incidents stack up in a particular place (below left).

LABikemap incident report screenshotDrill down to the report page (right) to see if the actual police reports are attached. Often they are not, but merely having the capability to attach files suggests its utility. Imagine attaching your letters to the transportation department about your accident? Or your report to the department about a pothole before an accident? That’s recourse for a rider who unhappily encounters the road hazard. And it’s a boon to attorneys! On the LA Bike Map, most reported incidents are collisions although the map has a very useful breakdown by hazards, thefts, etc.

Bikewise map screenshotBikewise (left) is another iteration of the DIY bike map, this one from a cycling club in Oregon. It replicates the features of the LA Bike Map but differs in that it includes a template for a detailed incident report (at right).

Bikewise incident report screenshotThat’s very handy because you know at a glance what the issue was behind the problem. A road hazard? A motorist? Though this map is a bit more thin on incidents than the LA Bikemap, it shows more non-collisions.

Do you have any great mapping tools to add? Is there a particular online map platform that will help advance our campaign? Add it here!