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News from CycleStreets

Archive for July, 2010

Press release: Online cycle journey planner launched for the London Cycle Hire scheme!

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

We've just launched www.londoncyclehire.org, the premier new Cycle Journey Planner for the London Cycle Hire scheme!

Martin Lucas-Smith, developer of the site, said:

“With the launch of the new cycle hire scheme, London enters a new phase in cycling promotion. Transport for London’s scheme will get many more people cycling in London at a time when cycling is already growing.

“But many people don’t know good routes in London. Simply by logging on at www.londoncyclehire.org , people can plan routes before they leave, get an estimated time for the journey, get a choice of faster or quieter routes, as well as check out StreetView images of each part of the route.

Just click a start and end point, or search for locations/postcodes, and click ‘Plan journey’ – it’s that simple!”

The website is an initiative of CycleStreets, the UK-wide cycle journey planner, which provides cycle routing all over the UK. Created by a not-for-profit group, the system gives both fastest, quietest, and a ‘balanced’ route, thus catering for both experienced and newer cyclists. It also takes account of hills, traffic lights, one-way streets, and many other aspects, and the routing is being continually developed.

Simon Nuttall, our ‘Routemaster’, said:

“We've been banging on about how great it is to be able to cycle around cities for years. We built our cycle journey planner to share our knowledge of the best ways to get around. There's never been a time when this has been needed more – just as London is going to get a whole new fleet of riders. Plan your route across the city, add photos of your experience and feedback so that we can improve the suggested route. – It’s a whole virtuous cycle!”

“When you climb on your new hire bike for the first time, you'll be climbing on a new transport system, and like other transport systems, you'll need a guide. Our journey planner uses the knowledge gathered from London's cyclists to help you choose which way to go.”

Martin added:

“We can’t wait to try out the new bikes this weekend. And as someone who grew up in Kingston, I hope that the system will reach outer London too, soon!”

CycleStreets routing is also being used by several new mobile phone apps, including cyclehireapp.com, the forthcoming Bike Hub app, TrackMyJourney, and CycleStreets’ own app, due to be released in August.

The routing data comes from OpenStreetMap, a project akin to Wikipedia. A large amount of the data has been collected by volunteer cyclists on the ground, and in London is fast becoming the map of choice, with an immense amount of detail and information. CycleStreets imports the new data each week, making it always up-to-date.

Notes:

  • www.londoncyclehire.org is independent of Transport for London. It is free to use. The site is now live and ready for use.
  • Contact us for more information
  • A complete list of features is available at http://www.cyclestreets.net/features/
  • CycleStreets is run on a not-for-profit basis, and is Company No. 06948959.
  • A summary of information about OpenStreetMap, the premier source of open mapping data, is at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenStreetMap
  • Work to improve the routing for mobile use has been possible partly thanks to a grant from the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund.

Routing performance developments

Monday, July 5th, 2010

The main focus of our development work over the last few months has been to improve the performance of our routing engine. This has become a priority with the need to serve routes on new mobile platforms, where the expectation that a route should appear quickly is even higher than those interacting with CycleStreets via a web browser. We need to generate routes as fast as possible – as that will form the basis for developing a stronger user experience.

We have explored three other routing engine architectures in addition to the original engine.  This has involved changing our system so that it can interface to all four routing engines. Getting that to work has forced our code quality in that area to improve and become more modular and generic.

One of the routing engines is emerging as a clear winner in terms of performance speed. It is written in the Python language, and is based on some code initially provided by a participant at our developer day back in March. This engine has now been serving all routes since last Thursday. The routes it produces are identical to those produced by our previous system, but they are now generated more quickly (and more reliably) than with the previous engine.

API users (mobile phone interface developers) have already remarked at the speed increase.

We shall be extending this engine to cover other parts of the route generation process that are still relatively slow.

We've been able to undertake this concentrated period of work to speed things up and improve resilience thanks to grant funding from two sources: the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund, as part of our efforts to improve performance for mobile interfaces, and hosting optimisation thanks to a grant from the Co-op Community Fund. We are very grateful for their support.

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

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