This is just a wonderful,
wonderful story (via
the excellent StreetsBlog). It turns
out there’s a cycling union in Holland (where else), which actually does really
useful things instead of just screaming and shouting a lot. In this case, they
put a wiki together to create a cycle
route planner for the Utrecht area, including thousands of bicycle lanes
which didn’t appear on the GPS route-planning devices used by cars.
The volunteers needed to be much more precise than commercial digital map
makers for car navigation devices, jotting down details such as road surface,
scenery and if a road is well lit.
"Detail is what cyclists need and what makes this so valuable. You need
to be able to choose a safe route at night, and a racing cyclist wants a hard
bike lane and no dirt roads," said 34-year-old Erik Jonkman, one of 70
Because it’s a wiki, errors get corrected quickly and easily. And of course
it should scale very easily as well, at least within Holland. The whole thing
The story also reminded me of something I’ve never understood about New York,
a city where most people travel by subway. If you look at any street map of
London, all the tube stations are very clearly marked. But if you look at any
street map of New York, except for the subway map itself, which isn’t much of
a street map, there are never any subway stations on it. So if you’re looking
at a certain address, you have to have the whole subway system essentially memorized
– or else have a copy of the subway map to hand – in order to work
out how to get there.
This is particularly, and annoyingly, true of online maps from the likes of
Mapquest or Google. Many stores and venues in New York helpfully link their
addresses to an online map page which shows where they are in the city –
but you can never see, from that map, where the nearest subway stations are.
Indeed, I’m not even sure that there is any online resource where you
can just type in an address and get back a list of the nearest subway stations.
Even Hopstop, which presumably could offer
the service very easily, doesn’t.