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News from CycleStreets

Archive for the ‘Scotland’ Category

Cycle journey planning in Scotland

Friday, May 11th, 2012

Over the last year we’ve been pleased to work with Cycling Scotland on a range of projects, now all completed and outlined below.

These projects, which have been achieved thanks to Cycling Scotland’s grant and funding of £22k, will help improve improve CycleStreets, to help people find their way and consider cycling as a practical option for their journeys.

Cycling Scotland is the national cycle promotion organisation for Scotland, working to establish cycling as an acceptable, attractive and practical lifestyle option, and aiming to make Scotland a nation of cyclists.

Cycle journey planner for Cycling Scotland

The new Scotland Cycle Journey Planner has launched!

This is a customised, embedded site within Cycling Scotland’s website, enabling people to plan journeys from A-B directly within their site. It includes quick links to a number of cities in Scotland.

Community mapping guide

We’ve created a community mapping guide, which explains how people can help improve the data used for the journey planner. This is part of Cycling Scotland’s ‘Community Cycle Mapping’ project which encourages local communities to capture cycling-related information so that it can improve the journeys of others.

Finding out about good cycle routes – where it is safe and convenient to cycle – means availability of good maps and the knowledge of local people about their area.

The guide is also available on Cycling Scotland’s website.

Improving the routing by supporting more detailed street data

Part of the grant from Cycling Scotland helped us to add support for more detailed information coming from in OpenStreetMap. By interpreting things like surface quality, various barriers, etc., we can improve the quality of journeys that we can suggest to users, leading to ever-improving routes.

We also began work on supporting turn delays in the engine, to reduce the problem of wiggly routes in the journey planner engine. We hope to complete this in coming months. Finishing this will mean we can improve the practicability of routes that people follow.

Hosting fund contribution

The grant included a contribution towards hosting, which has ensured we can cover use of the main journey planner for Scotland for three years. (Donations, enabling us to improve the hosting across the UK, are welcome!)

Android app

The CycleStreets Android app, available FREE was released last year more quickly as a result of the grant.

The app is well-rated, at 4.3/5 with 99 reviews. Most reviews seem very positive and highlight how the app has helped them find better routes.

Mobile web site

The grant also enabled us to develop a new mobile small-screen version of our website. The site ensures that people can access the journey planner easily via their mobile, for a variety of types of mobile device.

It has just been honoured as a winner of ‘Best Application Design‘ by the usability expert, Jakob Nielsen.

OpenStreetMap community mapping guide – for Cycling Scotland

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

We’re pleased to announce the availability of a new brochure that we’ve done for Cycling Scotland, aimed at motivating people to get mapping for OpenStreetMap.

Cycle mapping for cycle routing with OpenStreetMap – the new community mapping guide – explains how you can get involved.

Cycling Scotland is the national cycle promotion organisation for Scotland, working to establish cycling as an acceptable, attractive and practical lifestyle option. We’ve been working with Cycling Scotland to improve cycle journey planning in Scotland. The new mapping guide is part of their Community Cycle Mapping project to encourage improved cycling information in OpenStreetMap to help people get on their bikes.

(Although it’s been created primarily for use in Scotland, the principles and details in it apply elsewhere too.)

The Guide has been written by Andy Allan, who has been contracting for us on a few projects recently, with additional contributions by Martin from CycleStreets. Ayesha Garrett did the design work and has, once again, done a superb job. Thanks to both of them!




Upgraded hosting for CycleStreets (Technical post)

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

We’ve recently completed a switch over of the whole CycleStreets system to upgraded hosting. Our previous primary server has been extremely reliable and, having just checked, I find it has been up for 795 days, and has only been rebooted once in the last two-and-a-half years.

The new primary server is needed to support expansion of the journey planner, to handle the growing amount of data we manage in the CycleStreets system and to provide increased reliability of our services,  as well as for our new project, Cyclescape. We now also have additional redundancy.

The switchover has turned out to be a rather more complex procedure than expected as there are quite a number of different components that are required to make CycleStreets all work smoothly. This recent switchover it has helped to tighten up a number of areas. This will make future switchovers easier to handle, and a major benefit has been a restructuring of our documentation.

We have tighted up how we handle file permissions and this means that developers no longer need sudo access to rollout code onto the live server. The structure we’ve got for that feels a lot cleaner and has improved the security of the system.

The hardest part of all this was the moment of switchover itself. As the system is live and being used to generate thousands of routes per day we aimed to have as little downtime as possible. The data on both systems was synchronised before turning off the live server and switching over the DNS. This was done in the small hours and because of careful prepartion was completed in about 15 minutes. When the new server became live it was impossible to tell that anything had changed. Only a few things were missed out in the switchover – the automatic tweeting of our photo-of-the-day, and the updating of a missed DNS record – but both of these are now fixed.

The system does feel more responsive now, and we’ve noticed that some of our scripts run twice as quick as previously.

We are very grateful to our hosts, Mythic Beasts, for their continued support and technical advice.

Funding for this upgrade has been partly helped by a grant from Cycling Scotland and from donations.

Cycling Scotland

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.

CycleStreets for Android now available

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

CycleStreets, providing cycle routing for the UK, is now available on Android – thanks to our new app. Download it from the Android Market now – for free!


Our OpenStreetMap-based routing, for cyclists by cyclists, is now available on the move, complete with full placefinder, tap-to-set and with turn-by-turn directions.

Brought to you by CycleStreets, the UK-based cycle routing people, run on a not-for-profit basis.

Search for CycleStreets in the Android Market, use this link or use this QR code to download it directly:

Plan cycle-friendly routes from A to B anywhere in the UK!

  • Plans routes through the full street and path network, including Sustrans routes and other networks
  • Innovative & quick "three taps" system: Set current location, tap the map to set destination, and plan!
  • Or search for any location in the UK, including full postcode support and local/national placefinder
  • Choice of map styles (including OpenCycleMap showing contours, and Ordnance Survey Street View)
  • Turn-by-turn itinerary view
  • Choose from different types of routing – fastest/quietest/balanced/shortest
  • Easily switch between route types (e.g. quietest to fastest) having planned a route
  • Takes account of hills automatically
  • Plan journeys up to 200 miles (320km) long
  • Routes automatically saved for later viewing
  • UK-wide (NB some areas of OpenStreetMap are better than others)
  • Share your route to Twitter/Facebook easily
  • Routing for cyclists, by cyclists: your input to OpenStreetMap very welcome


Cycle campaigners will love it too: Photomap photo facility

  • Need some cycle parking in your area? Take a picture and add it to our Photomap
  • Obstruction in the way? Report it! Or found an example of great infrastructure? Add it!
  • Share your photo on Twitter/Facebook easily
  • Browse the existing library of around 30,000 photos
  • Full category and caption support
  • Fully-integrated upload with automatic geolocation
  • Locations used by campaigners around the UK
  • Integrated signin facility


Part of the development of this App has been funded by Cycling Scotland.

We’d particularly like to thank our great volunteers who have put in an enormous amount of effort: Jez Higgins (our lead developer), Theodore Hong, Christopher Fraser, Jonathan Gray.

CycleStreets for Android is an open source project, and the code is available on GitHub. If you’d like to get involved with the coding to add new features, do get in touch.

Improving cycle journey planning in Scotland – with Cycling Scotland

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Cycling Scotland

We're pleased to announce that we are working with Cycling Scotland to enhance cycle journey planning in Scotland!

Cycling Scotland, the organisation charged with getting more Scots on their bikes, runs a range of initiatives such as Bikeability Scotland, the freshnlo Pedal for Scotland bike ride, cycle instructor training and more. They are keen to provide cycle journey planning – to help remove a key barrier that people face when starting cycling or when they move into a new area.

As part of their journey planning activity, Cycling Scotland are extremely keen to motivate local community groups to map their area into OpenStreetMap, which forms the heart of CycleStreets' journey planner. Although there are areas like Edinburgh which have very high-quality mapping, thanks to the great work of OpenStreetMap volunteers there, other areas of the country are not so well-covered.

To help, we will be creating resources to help local communities with this mapping activity. Principally, this will involve creation of a user-friendly guide which introduces OpenStreetMap, explains how we use it, how people can collect data, and importantly outline the key things that improve the quality of cycle routing. (We hope this guide will also be of wider use to the OpenStreetMap community elsewhere, too, even though it will of course be tailored for Scotland.)

Alongside this work, we'll be creating a customised journey planner for Cycling Scotland, to be hosted on their website. This will benefit, thanks to a grant from them, from the introduction of more advanced routing attributes in our journey planner engine. By encouraging people to collect more detail about the cycling environment in their area, this will improve further the quality of our routing. Naturally, this will all be explained in the user-friendly guide for collectors.

Cycling Scotland are also supporting us to make our routing available more widely on different types of mobile phones, so that it is as accessible as possible.

We think this model of helping get more people cycle by engaging local communities and building on existing work is a brilliant model.

We are looking forward to undertaking these activities in partnership with Cycling Scotland, and will report in coming months as each part is completed and made available.

OpenCycleMap in Scotland – cc-by-sa OpenStreetMap contributors

Cycling Scotland

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

We're really pleased to see that Cycling Scotland are now linking to Scotland CycleStreets from their front page!

It was the Scottish Government’s Sustainable Transport section who funded the initial development of Edinburgh CycleStreets (in the form of a small seed grant arranged by Chris Hill of Changing Pace).

We'd like to take this opportunity to thank Cycling Scotland and Changing Pace again for their support.

We are particularly proud to be the first (and, as far as we are aware, the only) cycle journey planning system to take hills into account – something we know our Scottish friends are particularly pleased to see about!

Update: We're informed that Dundee has a route planner that includes hills – see the comments!

Front page of Cycling Scotland's website

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