Monday, August 13, 2012

New bike routing application is a new bike trip planning application for the DC metro area. The interesting aspect of the mapping application is integration of Capital Bikeshare.
To use bike planner, pick your start and end points, and we'll tell you how to make the trip, either on your own bike or on bikeshare. If you choose bikeshare, the route information includes where to pick up a bike and where to drop it off, and alternative docks nearby. Bikeplanner checks to see if bikes and docks are available before recommending a route. If you want to use your own bike, bikeplanner will help with that too!

Use the triangle shaped preference tool to customize your route and find the perfect balance of "quickest", "flattest" and "safest".
After hearing about the application in two articles in the Post and through several bike blogs I tried it briefly. On the first attempt to find a route from my home in Reston to Tysons, a trip I've taken many times using mostly bike-friendly routes, I received this message "Trip is not possible. You might be trying to plan a trip outside the map data boundary." If I move the staring location a few hundred feet away from my house, a route can be found. Unfortunately the route follows a segment of Fox Mill Rd that is one of the least bike-friendly in this area.

The app doesn't seem to know that the W&OD Trail extends to Reston. From where the green line following the trail ends, near Hunter Mill Road, it's about 15 miles to the center of DC. I assume the first versions of the app are not very useful beyond that distance.

On the route in the image on the right you can see another problem with the app. The straight line cutting across several neighborhood streets between two sections of Fairfax Co Parkway is a non-existent trail, likely just a digitizing error. The maps are based on OpenStreetMap data which is usually very high quality but not perfect (I just looked at the OpenStreetMap data for that area and didn't see the artifact).

Give the app a try and see if it works for your area. If not, send feedback to the developers, or if necessary, modify the OpenStreetMap data. In the meantime I'll continue to use Google Maps bike directions.

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Thanks for your comments/post. There's still work to be done improving the OpenStreetMap data that powers

However, I think you've pointed out a more fundamental issue: the routes you're having trouble with are off the edge of our map!

We're using the WMATA service area (with a small buffer around that) to define the boundary of what OSM data we use in the current version of the app. The straight line artifact you've pointed out is a result of us clipping that data.

For the short-term we'll make an update that makes this boundary more clear. And in the longer-term we'll look at ways to expand our data coverage.

However, a key step in expanding coverage is to get help making sure OSM actually reflects the bike infrastructure in your area.

Thank again for your input -- keep the feedback coming!


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