Tour de Lab September 1st

Major development in byCycle’s Trip Planner

Posted by on April 10th, 2006 at 10:59 pm

Oregon Bike Tourism Summit

[Wyatt and Lauren
have reason to smile.]

Lauren Donohue and Wyatt Baldwin of byCycle.org just released a very cool feature of their Trip Planner that lets webmasters and bloggers copy/paste a bit of HTML code into any website to give visitors street-by-street, bicycle-friendly directions.

It’s just like Mapquest or Google Maps…for bikes!

You can give this a try over in my sidebar right now. Or, if you’re a webmaster or blogger, here’s the page with the code you’ll need to put it on your own site.

Another very cool feature for businesses is that you can easily pre-program the destination address to offer customized, bike-friendly route information to your shop!

Online bicycle route planning is a very hot topic in advocacy circles. I attended a workshop about it at the recent National Bike Summit in DC and I saw Congressman Peter DeFazio checking out byCycle’s Trip Planner at the Bicycle Tourism Summit in Eugene a few weeks ago.

Lauren and Wyatt’s innovative work could have a huge impact on bike use across the country and it’s very exciting to have them based here in Portland.

The next step for this dynamic duo is to secure funding to host and expand the service and continue to make it better. They’ve been working very closely with Metro and they recently signed a contract with the Bike Federation of Wisconsin to offer route-finding for the Milwaukee area. They’re also working with Pittsburgh to get that area’s bike routes online as well.

Stay tuned for more great things from Lauren and Wyatt, and if you have feedback I’m sure they’d love to hear it.

Please support BikePortland.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

22 Comments
  • Avatar
    heather andrews April 11, 2006 at 4:45 am

    This is the coolest. Thing. EVER.

    I just mapped out a couple of routes I commonly take, and except for the suggestion of one street in Gresham that is extremely steep, narrow, and has relatively high traffic with no bike lane (so I usually don’t use that street), it looks really good. I might go do some “in the field” testing of their directions soon for some other routes.

    Nice job!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Scott Mizée April 11, 2006 at 5:04 am

    Congratulations on 1 year Jonathan! byCycle TripPlanner is something we have been waiting for for quite some time now. This looks like it is a great start!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Matt Picio April 11, 2006 at 6:14 am

    Works really well, with one exception – it doesn’t take into account the Springwater Trail. It mapped my route from Milwaukie to downtown Portland just fine, and followed the pre-Springwater route flawlessly. If there’s a way to get it to take the multi-use paths into account it’d be perfect.

    Fantastic job, though! I’m going to use this on a regular basis – thanks!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    joshua April 11, 2006 at 6:58 am

    that is a cool feature. using the bike there map plug in to google earth was cool but the route plotting is a really neat feature. it does have me riding down 39th in the se and a few other high traffic, no bike lane routes that are marked as red / caution areas in the bike there map. does this take those areas into consideration or is it just mapquest with some bike lanes?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Jonathan Maus April 11, 2006 at 9:53 am

    Wyatt, how about laying over the color-coded bike routes like on Metro’s Bike There Map? That way, we can see your directions as well as possible alternates.

    Not only that, but just having the Bike There Map integrated with your Google Maps-style interface would be useful I think (even without any routing information). Know what I mean?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Jonathan Maus April 11, 2006 at 9:59 am

    Wyatt has just created a Google Group email list to facilitate ongoing discussion, ideas, and feedback on the Trip Planner.

    byCycle Google Group

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Marty April 11, 2006 at 10:17 am

    This is the most exciting thing I’ve seen since the rapid-shifter. I hope it sticks around…

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Mark Knapp April 11, 2006 at 10:36 am

    Well … I just discovered that it doesn’t work on older operating systems. And in the computer world, “older” is just a few years ago.

    So … why are we building technological hurdles for bicyclists? :-/

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Wyatt April 11, 2006 at 10:41 am

    Here is the link for the discussion group: http://groups.google.com/group/byCycle

    Anyone can post; you don’t have to join, but you can if you want to. The discussion group is now the best place to post any problems with or suggestions for the Trip Planner.

    The TP knows about the Springwater Trail, but it is set up to take a kind of middle-of-the-road approach to finding a route: it tries to use the regional bike network (Metro’s Bike There map) without going to far out of the way. Similarly, it tries to stay on streets with less traffic and avoid hills–again without going to far out of the way (which is also why it picks 39th sometimes).

    The next big thing we are planning to roll out is the ability for users to select a route preference–safer/faster/flatter/etc. We have the framework for this in place; we just need to work out the details. In a future release, we’d like to offer more advanced user options.

    As for overlaying the Bike There map, we would love to do that, but unfortunately it would make the Trip Planner too slow and clunky. I actually have code that does this, but the map chokes on all those lines, especially when you start adding your own addresses/routes on top of it. So for as cool as Google Maps is (very!), it does have its limitations.

    Here’s an example from someone in Chicago who’s overlayed the area’s bike routes on a GMap: http://www.andreischeinkman.com/bikemap/.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Wyatt April 11, 2006 at 10:49 am

    Mark,

    The TP should work on older operating systems as long as you have a newer web browser (Firefox recommended). If you can’t update your browser (or even if you can), please let us know what operating system and browser you are using so we can look into the problem.

    We are focussing most of our development effort on making the TP work with the most common browsers. We would like to make it compatible with all browsers but don’t really have the resources (time or people) to do so.

    If you don’t mind, would you please post your problem to the discussion group: http://groups.google.com/group/byCycle.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Tiago April 11, 2006 at 11:38 am

    It is a really neat tool. I’ve wished, of course, many times for something like this. However, I never regreted getting lost on my bike because of poor planning. It always turned into an opportunity for me to discover areas and routes I’ve never been before and, geez, that’s one the best things I like when I’m riding.
    It’s going to be funny to see a segment of riders in Portland knowing only one route because a computer program, as is for me to see people wearing only one kind of clothing because they were designed for bikers.

    In the future, would be cool to see some features like: what kind of bike you’re riding (mtb, tallbike, mini, fixed gear…), what kind of ride you want to have (bike move, the fastest one, the safest, best views, more bars in the route…), etc.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Garlynn April 11, 2006 at 12:00 pm

    This is a *great tool*! Definitely the easiest-to-use implementation yet of a bicycle trip planner, and in a region that is actually likely to use it (as opposed to that other trip planner, the one for Los Angeles).

    However… it would be nice if it more obviously took traffic volume and slope into account, or at least had those as options. These are not easy things to factor into the equation quickly, so I look forward to seeing them rolled out at some point in the future!

    I wonder why it didn’t route me through Ladd’s Addition on my way from the Woodstock Neighborhood to NW Portland, however? Sent me around it on Clinton and 12th instead….

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Mark Knapp April 11, 2006 at 12:46 pm

    Google might not be “the best place to post any problems,” because not everyone can join their discussion group: http://groups.google.com/group/byCycle

    I tried twice, and each time my browser crashed. I use Netscape 7, and I usually have few problems.

    Coincidentally, people must have a CELL PHONE before Google let’s them get a g-mail account. It doesn’t look like you need g-mail to participate in their discussion groups, but that requirement is a clue about how they operate.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Wyatt April 11, 2006 at 1:04 pm

    Mark,

    As far as I know, anyone can join Google Groups; it is separate from GMail. But that is irrelevant anyway because you shouldn’t need an account to post to the byCycle group; it is set up to allow anyone to post.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Wyatt April 11, 2006 at 1:15 pm

    Regarding my last post: OK, apparently you DO need an account to POST (which I will agree is somewhat annoying), but it is only an account for Google Groups and is easy to sign up for.

    You don’t specifically need to be a member of the byCycle group to POST to it.

    You don’t need to have an account at all just to READ the group.

    The reason we went with Google Groups is just because it was easy and we don’t have a lot of time to set stuff like that up. If someone has a better idea or wants to help us set up a Wiki, please get in touch.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Scout April 11, 2006 at 5:07 pm

    Awesome!

    I just added it to my bike blog, if only so that *I* can plot directions for myself.

    Oddly, the two trips I’ve entered into the serch engine have taken bizarre routes. On the positive side, maybe it’ll teach me some new paths, and force me to learn streets of which I was previously unaware.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Severt April 11, 2006 at 10:20 pm

    I agree that this is one of the coolest things I’ve seen. If it doesn’t give the best route, who cares? I think it will be a lot of fun to use!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Severt April 11, 2006 at 10:49 pm

    I just wanted to add that I copied and pasted the code into my MySpace site at http://www.myspace.com/letourdesevert and it worked wonderfully! Thanks for making the code available to us! You guys are awesome!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    beth hamon April 12, 2006 at 6:18 am

    I concur with Mark Knapp. My computer is not new enough to use ByCycle AT ALL. Every time I attempt to enter the system just to find a route, my computer freezes and then automatically shuts down. Further research indicated that the problem was my admittedly old computer (which cannot handle most of the upgrade required to solve the issue) and that the solution was to buy a new one. Not a sustainable suggestion, and not an option for me.
    For now, I will stick to my Stone Age methods of using a mechanical odometer and paper map to find my way around. It’s worked for me for over 30 years.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Wyatt April 12, 2006 at 6:38 am

    Beth,

    We would certainly *like* for the trip planner to work on every computer with every web browser, but have very (and I do mean *very*) limited resources. We really have no choice at this point but to focus our effort on building something that works for the vast majority of users.

    One suggestion for users with older computers/browsers is to try turning off JavaScript in your browser preferences. There won’t be a map, but you will still be able to get text directions. Note: this is only a suggestion; it may or may not work.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Theo April 12, 2006 at 8:21 am

    Mmm, cool idea but it gave me a crazy route from N.E. Portland to Walker and 158 in Beaverton. Does it know that there is a bike lane just North of 26 from Sylvan to the Cemetary? Also, there is no way I’m going to ride up Vista when there is a bike lane ON 26 from Goose Hollow to the Zoo. It’s still a very cool program; good job and keep tweeking it to make it better.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    beth hamon April 14, 2006 at 9:37 am

    Wyatt — thanks for the tip.
    I am too computer-illiterate to even know exactly what Java is, or how to deal with it, and it’s not really my computer to mess with anyway. Not to worry. I’m more than content with my odometer and maps. I deal much better with what I call “visible” technologies, the stuff I can see, feel and manipulate with my bare hands. I think that’s why I’m not as computer-literate as just about everyone else I know.

    I think the program sounds **great** for those who are truly computer-dependent and computer-literate, and I hope it will get utilized and enjoyed. Best of luck in this endeavor. It’s a really good idea.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar