Bicycle map

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A bicycle map or bike map is a map specifically designed to address the bicyclists' preferred set of criteria for navigating transportation infrastructure.


The invention of the safety bicycle brought about a change in the way people traveled in the late 19th century. The maps available prior to this time period did show roads, but they emphasized railway lines and did not give cyclists the important information they needed such as: quality of road surfaces, gradients, danger points, distances between towns, and tourist attractions. Early bicycling maps were made by drawing bicycling routes following mule and foot paths.[1] In the early 20th century, many bicycles were laid aside as the motor car quickly progressed from a luxury item to an everyday household item.

GIS and technology[edit]

In the later half of the 20th century, when multi-geared bicycles brought more riders to the road, that urban planners and transportation engineers began to recognize the need for establishing suitability criteria indices specifically designed for bicyclists. According to research done at the Texas Department of Transportation, two main areas of criteria should be considered when developing maps to show bicycle routes. These areas are: 1. Stress levels where criteria is based upon vehicle speed and volume of the curb lane (also the width of the curb lane) 2.Roadway condition also called BLOS or Bicycle Level of Service, which considers variables dealing with speed limit, pavement condition, and location factors.[2] By analyzing these criteria and applying them to a map design, bicyclists and planners are better able to see the best route for travel.

Different methods of analysis coupled with good GIS practices have produced many Bicycle Suitability Maps used for recreational and utilitarian routing. The good GIS practices that can be included are: inventory of routes, digital imaging and then feature extraction of existing bicycle facilities using GPS/INS equipment and triangulation techniques, data consolidation and layer development, proximity tools used to normalize the spatial locations, linear referencing added and saved with asset information, and feature classes created for each asset and checked for quality.[3][4]

Routing websites[edit]

Interactive mapping on the web using GIS and spatial analysis allows a cyclist to state preference for more than one single attribute such as shortest, fastest, or most scenic route, and then to be able to set the tradeoffs among those attributes.[5] One current website called "Go Bike Boulder" goes a step farther with route planning and analysis, by rating several good bike system values like pavement type, grade values, etc. for every segment of road in Boulder, Colorado. The server-client architecture is similar to other sites but also has geocoding of address, map location and points of interest to help the user find an origin and destination. The route search can be modified to include on street and off street bike networks, and more attributes like hill elevation graphs, calorie counters and fuel-savings calculators.[6]

Another development in interactive bicycle route mapping is opensource software and tools that allow users to update maps and plot the route they want. While there are many sites that offer motor vehicle route finding and there are hundreds of GoogleMaps "mashups" that allow users to map their special interests, there are few bottom-up or wiki- style sources of bicycle routes. Following the wiki concept of allowing any viewer to make changes to the website, a personal geowiki would allow a cyclist to add to or amend the map.

After interviewing local cyclists in the Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota area, the designer found several needs that had gone unmet on routing sites such as: a lack of up to date road network information including byways (alleys, parking lots, designated paths, etc.), a lack of automated route finding not based on car transportation findings, and a lack of personal preference mapping. The personalized geowiki site that Priedhorsky designed called claims to address those needs. The wiki map utilizes a user-maintained GIS and a wiki geodatabase containing geographic objects important to cyclists. Another feature of the site is route finding through an automated byway network of personal preferences and needs, where the user is also allowed to rate each byway for the benefit of future users.[5]


  1. ^ Nicholson, Tim. "Cycling and Motoring Maps in Western Europe." The Cartographic Journal, 2004: 181-215.
  2. ^ Turner Shawn M, Shafer C. Scott, Stewart William P. . Bicycle Suitability Criteria for Texas Roadways. Transportation Research Report, College Station, TX: Texas Transportation Institute, 1997.
  3. ^ Hochmair, Hartwig H. "Optimal Route Selection with Route Planners: Results of a Desktop Usability Study." 2006.
  4. ^ Debbie Kingsland,Kirk WeaverKirk Weaver. "Using GIS for Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning." GIS-T. Houston, TX: Baker,Inc., 2008.
  5. ^ a b Priedhorsky, Reid, Jordan, Benjamin, Terveen, Loren. "How a personalized Geowiki Can Help Bicyclists Share Information More Effectively". ACM, 2007: 93-98.
  6. ^ Fuergeson, Laurence. Go Bike Boulder: ArcIMS Interactive Bicycle Routing Website. ERSI, 2007.