Planning Your Bike Trip Around Nation’s Capital is About to Get Even Easier

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Paul is communications director for Mobility Lab. He specializes in storytelling and editing, as well as environmental and pop-culture issues related to transportation.
June 22, 2012

Crowdsourcers make final improvements to a bicycle trip planner launching for the DC region

Do you want to know which bike routes through the city are the most simple, have the best surface, have the fewest hills to climb, and are the safest?

These are among the final touches being added to an online DC bicycle trip planner crowdsourced by a group of bike and open-source data hackers. They met yesterday in the Arlington, Virginia offices of The Mobility Lab.

Open Plans in an open-source software non-profit organization that built an online trip planner in anticipation of New York City’s soon-to-be-launched bikeshare system. Its website allows anyone to drop starting and ending pins on a map in order to find the best route, based on whatever preferences a rider might have (time of day, hilliness, etc.).

Open Plans wanted to be part of making DC and Arlington’s general biking and bikeshare system even more user friendly, so getting actual bicyclists and mappers into the Mobility Lab to discuss how to improve the bicycling experience based on more accurate trip-planning maps and data seemed like a logical step to take before making the as-yet-unnamed website available to the public.

Google Maps and Ride the City don’t do a particularly good job of showing the best bike routes to take. So this trip-planning tool – which will include specialized open data, such as Spotcycle‘s real-time feed of bike availability at all the Capital Bikeshare stations – should prove to be valuable to many people.

Open Plans is working with BikeArlington, Capital Bikeshare, Mobility Lab and others to make sure the crowdsourced data is strong and accurate. The idea is that the general public will soon be able to go onto the website to continue improving the trip planner over time (kind of like how Wikipedia entries typically get more and more accurate and remain protected by the user communities from misinformation).

Stick around here to find out more about the trip planner. And please add comments below on what you think should be included in the tool?

Kevin Webb and David Emory of Open Plans explain how they want crowdsourcers to improve bicycle trip planning in the DC region


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Kathy Lewis June 27, 2012 at 7:39 AM

It would be great if this could include routes to Baileys Crossroads (REI, Giant Foods, etc.), Seven Corners, and other important shopping areas near Shirlington and some trails but difficult to know how to best access by bicycle (extreme hills and bumpy horrible sidewalks should be avoided). I know there is a back way to Jefferson Street but haven’t figured it out yet, and its off the Arlington map.)

Thanks for your efforts with this. It sounds like it will be awesome!

Kathy

avatar Tim June 27, 2012 at 10:15 AM

@Kathy–this application will work for routing across the region that is currently being served by WMATA. The quality of the routing will be dependent on people like you and other riders who contribute your input.

For your specific questions right now, I’d recommend asking it at http://www.WashingtonAreaBikeForum.com.

Thanks!

avatar Ivy July 10, 2012 at 8:58 PM

This is GREAT news!! Will Maryland be included? I am asking because I will soon be starting a job in Rockville and would love to know the best routes to get there from Arlington. When will this be ready?

avatar Paul Mackie July 11, 2012 at 3:59 PM

Ivy,

Please see the comment above yours from Tim.

Thanks,
Paul

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