Maps for people who don’t drive

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

sounds great.

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.

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6 Responses to Maps for people who don’t drive

  1. Gari N. Corp says:

    is, you’re still out of luck.

  2. Felix says:

    Yes, although you still need to eyeball it: it doesn’t actually come out and tell you what the nearest subway is. But it’s still a good start.

  3. Jean Sinclair says: Cambridge Cycling Campaign (England UK) has just launched an interactive mapping tool for bike routes.

  4. matt says:

    Actually, you can find the closest subway stop to an address on

    It also shows nearest bus stops or a combination of the two.

  5. Will says:

    We are working on getting the Staten Island Line on the map as well as directions. Directions we will have very soon. Shoot, I should just give up a saturday and do the Staten Island Line.

  6. Matthew says:

    The London Underground route planner,

    not only tells you how to get from one address to another (door-to-door) by public transport, but also by bike, and it does use cycle lanes.

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