Finding your way around the Washington region by bike just got a whole lot easier.
BikePlanner.Org is a new bike routing website from OpenPlans that uses the impressive crowdsourced OpenStreetMap. You can instantly set your personal preferences for “fastest,” “safest,” or “flattest” route using the handy triangle selector and you can also choose personal bike or bikeshare.
But what’s even better is the fact that the base map is editable by anyone, so local cyclists have the power to make the BikePlanner even more accurate and useful. The OpenStreetMap is kept up to date by citizens logging in and correcting segments of the roads and paths, adding new links and features and generally playing cartographer. It takes a little bit of practice and patience, but once you get used to it, playing cartographer is actually a lot of fun, plus you get the satisfaction of knowing you are improving the tool for your own use as well as for others.
The bikeshare option is totally unique to trip planners. OpenPlans did recently develop a similar webpage for New York City named Cibi.me, but the New York bikeshare system has not launched yet and the station locations are unknown. So this is the first functional trip routing tool for a bikeshare system including routing based on bike and dock availability. If your closest station has no bikes available, then BikePlanner does not send you there, and instead takes you to the next closest station with bikes available. If you are riding your own bike and don’t need to be routed based on bikeshare station locations, it’s a simple click to choose that option and receive instant door-to-door routing.
Everyone is encouraged to try BikePlanner.Org and see what routing you get for your trips. If you find a route that is less than optimal, don’t despair, log into openstreetmap.org and investigate the problem area to see if you can correct the base map so that it provides improved routing.
We are very fortunate to be first in line for this exciting tool. Let’s use it, improve it, and enjoy it!