Donate using PayPal

CycleStreets blog

News from CycleStreets

Archive for May, 2009

CycleStreets homepages for your town/city/district … over 1,500 of them!

Friday, May 29th, 2009

Over the last month we’ve been beavering away fixing bugs and working through the list of features that didn’t quite make it into our beta launch, as well as spending time improving the routing to deal with problems that have been pointed out to us.

Simon, our ‘routemaster’, has recently blogged about some of the improvements on the routing side of things, with many improvements ‘in the works’. We are striving to make the routing as close to what a human would choose as possible, and your feedback (via the feedback link on each route page) is a really helpful and important part of this.

One of the new interface improvements we’ve just rolled out is

We’ve added local homepages for over 1,500 towns, cities, metropolitan districts, and burghs all around the UK.

There are only three differences from the national :

  • The map is focused by default in the area, saving you having to pan and zoom in
  • Photos in the photomap are limited to that area.
  • You get a nice URL like

Other than that, the system works exactly like the UK-wide system.

Note that we can’t guarantee the routing quality in any area as we’re still making improvements, but hopefully this new feature will make testing/linking easier.

CycleStreets has been a national system since we went to public beta a few months ago. (As the creators of the original journey planner on the Cambridge Cycling Campaign website, we were contacted by many people wanting versions for their area, hence the rationale for CycleStreets UK.)

Here are some of the local homepages:

to name just six of the 1,657 areas we’ve pre-entered. 

If you find a town that isn’t covered (or spot an error in the map centring), do drop us a line! Likewise, if you are a cycle campaign group (or Local Authority) and wish to have information about cycling in the area on the ‘my area’ page, send us some info.

Another URL-related feature we’ll be adding shortly is the ability to specify a road/place in the URL as the starting/ending point for a journey, a bit like the excellent website has, so that it is easy for organisations to provide a ‘how to get to us by bike’ link on their websites. I’ve long been a proponent of user-manipulable URLs, and these changes are obvious improvements that I’m sad we didn’t get have time to get into the beta launch.

Localised photo listings

Friday, May 29th, 2009

All the various ways of listing photos are now relevant to your area, which we hope will be useful for groups all around the country to help them campaign on issues.

This means that you will only see photos in the listings that belong to the host city or area you are browsing.

For instance compare any of these:

with the universal listing for national CycleStreets:

The change applies also to the search results:

We hope these changes will be useful for local groups around the county.

For instance, check out the categorisation list, which divides all the photos into problems/best-practice and type of photo (e.g. cycle parking / cycleway / etc.). Check out the fledgling Categorisation view for London, for instance, and add photos yourself to add to this!

Routing quality changes

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

We’ve been working on improving the reliability and quality of the import of street data from the OpenStreetMap (OSM) project.

Traffic Signals

Two types of traffic signals are read from the OSM data.

  • Junctions where cyclists can expect to wait on average 20 seconds.
  • Crossings which interrupt journeys less frequently and for a shorter period, and so a 5 seconds average delay is assumed.

The journey planner uses these timings in its calculation of the time to complete a route. The effect will be noticed most strongly in fastest routes, which should now produce a more accurate route than previously.

Currently there are almost 10,000 traffic signals in the system, roughly 10% at crossings and the rest at junctions.

Route Quality

We continue to receive feedback about the quality of the generated routes. In some areas of the country the main problem is the sparsity of map data. That problem is steadily going away as time goes on and OSM contributors fill up the map.

Another problem is that in some areas the OSM ways are not connected. This problem was drawn to my attention in the area of Benfleet, Essex where a circuitous route went a long way round via the ring roads.When we received feedback about this from an OSM user I was able to view that area and discovered the unconnected roads. That user has since joined up the roads in OSM, and following a recent import it is able to produce these much more direct routes.

A more complex problem however is how we interpret the data provided by OSM. The way it works at the moment is to translate way tags that match a certain pattern into an equivalent CycleStreets provision. Currently there are 784 distinct patterns, and although it works, it is becoming unmanageable. We have plans to simplify this and take better account of the transport mode hierarchy.

Provision Changes

Until recently the way we have interpreted quietness has been pure. Basically the less busy the road, the quieter it is up to a max of 100%. Cycle Tracks and Park Paths are 100% quiet. But also in this pure sense footpaths (most of which are prohibited to cycling (but its more complex than that)) were also regarded as 100% quiet. The effect of that was that the journey planner was too eager to find quiet route along footpaths, even though it has always made it clear that those bits should be walked.

So we decided to loosen this interpretation of ‘quietness’ to include whether it can be ridden or not. Links that cannot be ridden now only have a maximum quietness of 75%.

See the full list at CycleStreets provision.

We welcome your feedback, especially to report bugs or give us route feedback.

My comments relate to: *

Your comments: *
URL of page: *
How did you find out about CycleStreets?:
Your name:
Our ref: Please leave blank - anti-spam measure

* Items marked with an asterisk [*] are required fields and must be fully completed.