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Archive for the ‘Features’ Category

Beautiful new galleries page unveiled

Monday, July 27th, 2015

We are pleased to unveil the new Galleries front page, which brings your beautiful photos and content to the front and centre. Galleries is a really neat feature to group cycling-related media for presentation or campaigning.

There is also a lot more flexibility available while adding a new gallery – you can now navigate away from the Create Gallery form to find more photos to add, and when you return all the fields will be exactly as you left them. You can even close your browser window and come back later, and the gallery creation form will still show your data as you left it.

As well as the graphical front end, our intern Patrick has been busy developing a new Galleries API for developers, which enables API calls to list and show the content of Galleries, and create and update Galleries.

We hope you enjoy browsing and adding to the Galleries.

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 17.13.12

CycleStreets Mobile web site judged “Best Application Design” by usability expert

Friday, May 11th, 2012

We’re delighted that the CycleStreets Mobile web site has been judged one of the “Best Application Designs”, by renowned web usability guru, Jakob Nielsen!

The mobile site was one of the winners in the Lightweight Applications category. You can read the report announcing the winners on his site, and a fuller downloadable report is available (for a fee).

The site is a small-screen version of our main site, and is intended to work on a range of mobile devices, such as iPhone, Android, modern Blackberry devices and more. (We haven’t quite got full compatibility for Windows Phone 7.5 Mango yet, but if you can help, do contribute to the codebase.)

As the report outlines, our aim with producing a mobile web browser app was to enable quick and simple planning of journeys on a small screen, offering the key functionality of CycleStreets with a minimum of fuss, a quick download time, and providing clear large buttons. We were able to include much of the usability learning from the main site and the iPhone and Android apps in creating the site, and as such it includes many of the best elements of each of them. For instance, there is a quick way to switch routes directly and to see the details of the route without going to a different screen. Also, the crosshairs concept enables quick and accurate planning and avoids problems with large fingers obscuring the start/finish points.

The site was created by Anna Powell-Smith, who we’d like to congratulate! We’d also like to thank Tom Steinberg of MySociety whose insight into one key aspect of the app really helped improve it.


New section: Points of interest, UK-wide, easily browsable

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

We're pleased to announce the launch of a major new section of our website:
Points of interest that you can click on to view and select for your journey.

Points of interest

We've integrated OpenStreetMap location data so that you can now click on points on the map. Just go to our journey planner tab and you can use the presets like bike shops, cafés, pubs, and many more.

(Mobile app developers: This data is also available through our API – see below.)

For instance, stations:

If you select a point, it is clickable. A Google Street View picture of the location will be shown, if it's a roadside location:

There's a link in the popup to the place's website if it has one.

There are lots of different POI types available:

You can browse locations anywhere the UK, for instance to find these independent bike shops in London:

Please add locations to the map!

If a place you know of doesn't appear in the map, please contribute your knowledge to OpenStreetMap by using the Edit section of our website. Warning: it can be quite addictive!

Or perhaps no-one's added a location's website yet? Click on the 'add it' link in the popup shown above. Follow the link, click on the icon, click on 'Advanced' and then enter 'website' on the left and the URL on the right, and click Save. You'll need to create an OpenStreetMap account if you don't have one already.

You must not copy things from other people's maps, however – additions and edits must be based on your local knowledge of an area.


This data is now all available through our API so that it can be integrated into your cycle routing app.

For full details, see our API documentation.

(We hope to have this functionality in our own apps shortly. If you can help patch it in, please branch our app repo and pitch in!)

CycleStreets mobile web site launches

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Today, we’re very pleased to announce the beta mobile web version of CycleStreets – written by me, project-managed by Martin, and funded by Cycling Scotland.

Built in jQuery Mobile and HTML5, this extends CycleStreets’ mobile support beyond our well-received Android and iPhone apps to cover other platforms, including iPad and BlackBerry.

Just like the other apps, you can plan cycling routes while out and about, upload photographs you take along the way, and find photos others have uploaded nearby.



The mobile HTML version has an experimental change from the native apps and desktop CycleStreets. Instead of tapping the map to add a draggable marker, we use fixed crosshairs in the middle of the screen. We hope this makes route planning a little easier, by reducing the possibility of accidental clicks.

Start route Fetching route

Once you have a route planned, it’s easy to compare the different journey types that CycleStreets offers – fastest, quietest, or balanced – and see individual turns.

Fastest route Individual instruction

In a somewhat alpha feature (as HTML5 doesn’t yet offer brilliant phonecam integration), you can also upload photos you’ve previously taken of cycling problems nearby. And you can see photos that others have added to CycleStreets.

Upload photos Photos near me

We automatically save your routes for future reference, and your preferences for cycling speed, route type, and preferred map type – OpenStreetMap, OpenCycleMap, or Ordnance Survey.

Saved routes Settings page

Technical notes

For me as a coder, this was pretty much a dream project: a meaningful application, a cutting-edge platform, and a supportive project lead, in the form of Martin, to manage it all.

My goal for the mobile HTML app was to create something easy to use and as accessible as possible – while being realistic about the fact that CycleStreets routing, with its maps and polylines, is inevitably going to work best on a smartphone as a native app.

To that end, technical readers may be interested in the following notes:

  • jQuery Mobile: As we were using jQuery anyway, I chose jQuery Mobile for its lovely look and feel, its clever Ajax page transitions, and its sensible graded browser support – plus a general good feeling about the project. Now in beta, it’s perhaps a little slow (they’re working on it), but definitely a project to watch.
  • HTML5: We use geolocation (ahem) plus localStorage to save user details – though the app should still function if neither are available. There’s clearly also scope for offline route storage, which we hope to add in v1.1.
  • Responsive design: This would obviously have been nice (for an example, visit FixMyTransport in a desktop browser, and then resize it so it’s really small). However, it would also have required changes to the CycleStreets desktop CSS beyond the scope of this project – though I believe it’s still in the longer-term CycleStreets world domination plan.
  • Browser testing: Technically, the most challenging part of the project was not coding, but finding the emulators and real devices to test on. We’ve tested in Android, mobile Safari, iPad, and BlackBerry (led by the UK browser stats), plus Opera Mobile and Fennec on Android, but we want to hear more from Nokia and WinPhone7 users.

Help us improve!

This is still very much a beta. However, mobile HTML is a long-term play for CycleStreets, so we expect to add lots of improvements in the coming months and years.

You can help us by trying out the app on your mobile device, and reporting feedback on GitHub issues list. If you’re a coder, free to fork the repo (GPLv2) and make improvements.

Happy cycling, and let us know your thoughts on the app.

Thanks to Cycling Scotland!

We’d like to thank Cycling Scotland for a grant to enable this project to come to fruition.

Railway station codes in searches

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

We've added a mini-feature to our website and mobile apps that some regular train-using cyclists may find useful.

You can now enter train station codes (e.g. KGX for King's Cross) in the search box, and the location of that station will be found. It just avoids lots more typing, and is useful if you use particular stations regularly.

We've been able to do this thanks to a dataset on Scraperwiki.

Also works in our mobile apps

This works in our apps for iPhone, Android and mobile web:


In fact, any app using our geocoder API, such as Bike Hub will pick this up too.

Preset URL formats also supported

You can also enter these in our preset ("plan a journey to..") URLs too.

For instance, will set King's Cross as the destination point.

Or would set the points for King's Cross to Waterloo.

You can read about the many preset URL formats we've set up, which cover postcodes and more.

Journey planner for London Cycling Campaign’s new website

Friday, June 10th, 2011

We've created a new customised journey planner for London Cycling Campaign.

LCC are the leading cycling advocacy group in London. Their work over many years has really helped keep up the pressure to improve cycling conditions in London – so you should certainly join LCC! (LCC is in fact the first NGO that Martin joined.) Most recently, LCC has led the charge over the Blackfriar's Bridge debacle.

They've just launched a great new website. And it features an embedded journey planner, by us, at

Part of this project involved the creation of a new embeddable box 'widget' on the front page of the LCC website – a feature which we hope to make more widely available soon:

London is the most challenging area for us to provide routing for – the complexity of the network sometimes results in rather wiggly routes, which is something we are still working to address.

Congratulations to LCC on the launch of the new site and the clever new logo!

We hope to work again with LCC and many other cycling campaign groups around the UK as our campaigner toolkit (GeoVation) project is implemented in the coming 5 months.

London Cycle Hire website updated

Monday, June 6th, 2011

We've added a few new features to our website, a version of the journey planner that includes the Barclays Cycle Hire ('Boris-bike') points.

We've added live availability data, thanks to TfL's new data feed – thanks TfL for making this data open! (Disclaimer: as a third-party site, it is not endorsed by TfL).

We've also added Street View images from Google so you can familiarise yourself with the area before making a trip.

The popup links for each location enable you to 'Choose this point' as a start or finish location.

And as with our main website, you get a choice of directions and photos-en-route, brilliantly detailed data from OpenStreetMap, plus other features.

Check out for your next borisbike journey!

London Cycle Hire website

New ‘cycle to us’ links – techy work in progress

Monday, April 11th, 2011

A techy post reporting on some work in progress, and seeking suggestions! …

A while back we introduced various new URL formats like:

which would allow someone at that postcode to put a link 'cycle here' on their website.

Journey to...

This is designed so that the user needing to plan a journey would just follow the link, type in where they want to start from, and click 'Plan'.

We've been working on some more formats lately (well, actually, last night until 3am!). This is a quick 'work-in-progress' post, and we'd welcome any ideas.

You can enter /to/ or /from/, can enter postcodes, lat/lon and can add an optional label at the end. Examples:


Both – London to Cambridge:

Lat,lon, with or without a zoom level:

With a customised label added:

There are also the area homepages, which can be combined with the above:

Very experimental, and not yet working well: including the NameCapitalised in the URL, e.g.

What other formats could be useful?

Once we've finalised them, we'll turn them into a nice interface like the Link page has.

Tech spot:

Definitely stop reading now if you're not a techy :)

The regexp for these is not very nice! /journey/<from>/<to>/  is done using:


CycleStreets – review of the year

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

Today is our second birthday – CycleStreets was launched on 20th March 2009.

The last year has seen a huge amount of development work, leading to new features, speed improvements, and more. However, the next six months will be even busier as the project really ramps up!

In the first year, CycleStreets planned 67,000 routes. In our second year, around 437,000 routes have been planned, and the rate of increase continues to climb. By November we had planned enough routes to cycle to the moon ten times, and in February, we reached the milestone of half a million journeys planned.

CycleStreets usage levels rising

Dover to Cape Wrath

A major challenge we faced a year ago was the technical challenge of generating the routes fast enough.

A year ago, CycleStreets used a routing engine written in PHP (!) that we created for the Cambridge-only predecessor of CycleStreets – the Cambridge Cycling Campaign journey planner. It was slow, taking half a minute to plan a route across London, and taking up most of the system resources. Effectively, it was the wrong technology and didn't scale to UK-wide routing.

We held our first Developer Day, which lead to very productive discussions about the routing engine and how we could provide routes to users of the site faster. A friend of the project, George, wrote us a new engine (using Python) which lead to a massive speed-up. Then Robin, another volunteer, took the Python engine and created an even faster version in C++. This has been in place for most of the year and has quietly sat at the heart of the system, planning routes in a few GB of RAM while barely challenging the processor.

The work on the routing engine meant that we have been able continually to increase the maximum planning distance, which is now 200 miles (320km), which is well above a day's cycling! The development version of the system can even now do Dover to Cape Wrath!

Improving the routing speed was a key requirement for mobile apps, several of which signed up to use our routing through the year. These include the leading app for the London cycle hire scheme – London Cycle: Maps & Routes, plus two other excellent 'boris-bike' apps, the briliant and world-first 3D bike satnav app, Bike Hub, BikeRoute for Android and, of course, our own CycleStreets for iPhone app.

Bike Hub app  Cycle Hire app  London Cycle: Maps & Routes  London Bike app  BikeRoute for Android

Our own iPhone app was made possible thanks to two grants we successfully applied for.

Our Android app is nearing completion, and like the iPhone app is being developed as an open source project. Thanks to our mobile developers for their brilliant work on these.

CycleStreets app

Through the year we have given various presentations and got involved with various social enterprise -related activities., such as WhereCamp EU, CamTechNetCambridge Geek Night and Net2Camb amongst others. These events lead to interesting discussions and also resulted in useful new contacts, such as people helping out with our mobile apps.

It was a particular plesure to give a presentation to Net2Camb as it gave us the opportunity to speak about the challenges faced by us as a not-for-profit social enterprise, rather than purely talking about technical challenges.

We have launched a funding drive for £130k to raise funds for two full-time developers. Such funds would enable the project to move forward much more quickly.

The DfT has this year been collecting cycling data which we are keen to see added to OpenStreetMap. We have since had informal discussions with Cycling England about use of the data, and how conversion of the data might be undertaken and at what cost. Discussions have been positive, and we feel this data would improve the quality of routes that we can deliver to users.

Over the year, more and more governmental bodies have been linking to us. For instance, in April, Cycling Scotland linked to us, and we are keen to work with them to help motivate people to improve OpenStreetMap data in Scotland. Others, including some of the Cycling Demonstration Towns like Chester and Lancaster now link to CycleStreets, and we have just sent a new brochure to councils around England.

Increasing the flexibility of the CycleStreets platform has been an ongoing priority.

West Sussex Cycle Journey Planner

In February we created a customised cycle journey planner for West Sussex County Council, building on work we have done to make it easier for organisations to have a journey planner within their website. Another has been created for the Bike Hub website, and a demo Local Authorities site is available.

The year has also seen a few developments on the Photomap. This is an area we would like to do much more on, as explained in our GeoVation bid for which we have now been shortlisted.

We created, under contract for Cambridgeshire County Council, a site called 'Cycling Sorted' to help manage the shortage of cycle parking in that area. We are keen to create similar sites for other Local Authorities. We have also created a similar system to support the great work of London Cycling Campaign.

OpenStreetMap is the backbone of our project, and we have been pleased to promote OSM and encourage more mapping for it. Over the summer we helped obtain a database of all the bike shops in the UK, for use in OSM, from the Association of Cycle Traders. Much of this has been merged into OSM, but more needs to be done to complete this crowd-sourcing exercise.


CycleStreets' use of open data saw it being featured on the front page of the government's new data website –

Throughout the year, we implemented many smaller improvements and innovative new ideas, such as the new shortlink domain, our new Photo of the Day on Twitter (featuring the best of the 25,000+ pictures in the Photomap), a new gallery viewer, better facilities to link to the journey planner, adding an integrated editor (Potlatch 2) as well as various ongoing design/usability improvements (though there is much more to be done, time/funding permitting).

Routing quality work, however, remains our highest priority. Our aim is to provide the highest quality routing possible for cycling, using our knowledge as cyclists. Various improvements have been made recently, and we are currently working on new routing attributes and reducing the wigglyness of some routes, which is proving a difficult problem to solve with limited hardware resources.

Simon and Martin, lead developers, would like to thank a range of people who have helped out in various ways, such as Andy, Shaun and David from OpenStreetMap, George and Robin for work on the routing engine, huge support from Chris in Edinburgh, George from Camden, our mobile developers – Alan, Neil, Jez, Theodore, Christopher and Jonathan, advice and a free dev server from our brilliant web hosts Mythic Beasts, our designer Ayesha, Jeremy for occasional advice on business matters, support from key individuals at the CTC, LCC and Cycle Nation plus others in our stakeholder group, Carlton and Bike Hub, helpful ideas and data from cycle campaign groups around the UK, and of course the amazing community of OpenStreetMap contributors whose mapping makes everything possible.

Lastly, we would like to thank our users, whose cycling needs provide us with the inspiration to keep going, and who provide us with much feedback and many great ideas.


CycleStreets: Our Story – presentation to Net2Camb event

Friday, January 14th, 2011

We really enjoyed the January Net2Camb Meetup event, where one of our lead developers, Martin, gave a talk 'Our Story'. Thanks to Claire for organising the event and everyone who came!

It was particularly enjoyable as it was a rare opportunity to talk about the business and competition aspects of CycleStreets, about the challenges we face, and the future opportunities for the project.

We were also pleased that a couple of people came forward as new volunteers!

Here is our presentation [link]:





View more presentations from CycleStreets.

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