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CycleStreets blog

News from CycleStreets

Archive for July, 2009

Photos en route

Monday, July 13th, 2009

Work has begun on restoring one of the most popular features of the original Camcycle version of the CycleStreets Journey Planner.

Photos-en-route (PER) selected images from the photo library that corresponded to the direction of travel of the planned cycle journey. The images were displayed in among the route list, but also as a slide-show, which simultaneously showed one of the photos and moved a marker on the map to give an idea of where the photo was taken.

There are well over 10,000 images of Cambridge in the photo library, and so the result was a fairly comprehensive storyboard of the journey. See this Cambridge route for instance.

When it came to making CycleStreets available to a national audience we found we needed to re-write the code to support PER. We’ve now reached the point where the photos on the planned route can be quickly determined. The next step is to decide how to display them on the web pages. As a starter they are simply being including in among the route listing as thumbnails, and for now there’s no way to turn this feature off. We’re thinking about re-introducing the old slideshow, but the question is where to put it on the page! If you have any suggestions do let us know.

We hope the re-emergence of this feature will encourage more of you to contribute images of the cycling network to the Photomap. The PER algorithm prefers photos from the library that match the direction of travel along the route – so don’t forget to set the ‘bearing’ correctly when adding your photos. Where there is a choice, this allows the PER storyboard to show different photos for the return route.

What do we do with your feedback?

Monday, July 13th, 2009

Currently we’re finding that about 1% of users who plan a journey are leaving us feedback about their routes.

If the feedback comes directly from the route listing page, then that route is immediately marked as requiring our attention.

We try to look at the route as soon as possible alongside your comments. We then try to understand what is the problem (if any – as we do get quite a few compliments) with the route by classifying it into one of about 15 categories.

The main actions we can take following feedback are:

  1. Check the underlying map data to see if there are missing links. If there are we can inform the OpenStreetMap.org (OSM) project. We can usually fix simple things like mis-spelled street names quite quickly. If there is a missing link the fix won’t get into CycleStreets until a few days after a local OSM contributor has responded.
  2. Check how we translate the map data from the OSM project into our routing structures.
  3. Check whether the route published has shortcomings because of features we’ve yet to add to CycleStreets.
  4. Change some of the parameters of our routing engine to find a better route.

The diagnosis, once made, appears in the heading of the original route listing page, sometimes with a link to an alternative route.

If contact details have been provided we then usually write back to you explaining what we have done.

Planning a circular route

Monday, July 13th, 2009

We’ve designed the Journey Planner to find practical, direct routes, mainly aimed at shorter urban journeys. But we’ve had a growing number of requests for longer or circular routes.

The journey length is limited at the moment to help keep our website as responsive as possible (because long routes take up a lot of computing time). So, if you want to plan a route between A and B that are further apart than this limit you can use this tip: Choose an intermediate point, say C and plan your route from A to C. Then on the route listing for A to C choose the [return] option shown at the top of the page. This will take you to the journey planning page, but with points A and C swapped over, i.e. starting from C going to A. Click the ‘change’ link in the Going to box,and choose your final destination B and plan. This will produce the route from C to B.

When signed-in to the site you can  access all your planned routes under the ‘My Journeys’ link in the journey planner.

CycleStreets at State of the Map ’09

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

We've just given a couple of talks at State of the Map '09.

Lots of great talks from a wide range of people in the OpenStreetMap community!

New banners – link to CycleStreets from your website!

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

We’ve got some great new banners that you can use to link to us:

http://www.cyclestreets.net/promote/

Thanks to Ayesha for these banners!

Banner 3

Banner

HTML:

<p><a href="http://www.cyclestreets.net/" title="CycleStreets.net - for cyclists, by cyclists: plan cycle
routes around the UK and add photos"><img src="/images/banners/cyclestreets3.jpg"
width="468" height="60" style="border: 0;" alt="CycleStreets" /></a></p>

Banner 2

Banner

HTML:

<p><a href="http://www.cyclestreets.net/" title="CycleStreets.net - for cyclists, by cyclists: plan cycle
routes around the UK and add photos"><img src="/images/banners/cyclestreets2.jpg"
width="468" height="60" style="border: 0;" alt="CycleStreets" /></a></p>

CycleStreets Photomap improvements

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

We’ve now added a tabbed interface to the various photomap pages, as part of a drive to improve the user-friendliness of the photomap side of the system and increase the discoverability of its features.

For instance, see the new tabs on a photo page like
http://www.cyclestreets.net/location/9351/
which is one of my favourite pictures!)

You can also now easily plan a journey to a location. So add a photo of a destination and you now get a nice URL to that place, e.g.
http://www.cyclestreets.net/journey/location/9351/

We’ll shortly have photos integrated within the route listings – so you can see what a route is like on the ground before you travel it! … if any photos have been added by people, of course. We used to have this feature in the original Cambridge-only system, but had to disable it when we launched CycleStreets because of performance issues (due to unoptimised code). Stay tuned!

(PS Thanks to Ian at UCS for the tabbing suggestion.)

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

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