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Bike route planning

Old 08-29-16, 11:34 PM
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Bike route planning

Hi,

I created a simple website where you can plan your bike routes using Google Maps: https://bikeroll.net
The motivation was to make it simple, lightweight, and fast. Some features it has: free service, no registration, elevation profile, downloadable GPX track, weather forecast.
Your feedback is very much appreciated, let me know what you think, where it can be improved.
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Old 08-29-16, 11:35 PM
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nice
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Old 08-30-16, 12:08 AM
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cool.... I've bookmarked it
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Old 08-30-16, 02:44 AM
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As usual for my area, Google maps suggests awful routes for bicycling. Not the fault of the developers of bikeroll. But Google maps bike routes can get you killed in Fort Worth.

For example, I live on the far west side of town. Google maps and anything based on it will suggest taking Camp Bowie eastward to Southwest Boulevard (183), and then south toward the Trinity Trails MUP. This is incredibly dangerous. Besides intersecting with fast traffic exiting/entering Southwest Blvd (including from 377 and a roundabout that's dangerous even for vehicle traffic), that route has bike killer storm grates running parallel with travel, enough to swallow a front wheel and pitch a rider headfirst into the road. I took this route a couple of times last year because Google maps and other maps derived from Google's info suggested it. Probably the most dangerous route I could imagine if I deliberately wanted to put cyclists at risk.

For some reason Google maps ignores the designated bike lanes available all over Fort Worth and the adjacent Benbrook, including Chapin and Williams roads in the Western Hills area.

Then, to get to the historic Fairmount/Near Southside district, Google maps suggests Camp Bowie to the I-30 access road! Again, it's difficult to pick a better route to get bicyclists killed. The safer route, and only a bit longer in distance, is the Trinity Trail to Colonial Parkway (not as busy as a "parkway" sounds -- it's a very quiet suburban road often used by cyclists) to Park Place (also quiet, but with a steep hill to climb) to Fairmount where there are plenty of designated bike lanes.

To get to the Botanic Garden it suggests Calmont -- a very busy thoroughfare with fast traffic and no shoulders, although the right lane is wider than usual. While not a highway, per se, the road's design encourages drivers to travel up to 50 mph, far above the posted limit. And it's very hilly, for this area, an exhausting ride for cyclists who aren't in top condition. But there's a safer and only slightly longer route via the Trinity Trails MUP and up through the Trinity Park area.

Again, not the developer's fault. It's just that Google maps is awful for bike routes in our area. It reads like a subversive plan to reduce the cycling population.

Generally I use OsmAndMaps. Some folks recommend Strava heat maps to identify popular routes actually used by local cyclists who know the area.

Last edited by canklecat; 08-30-16 at 02:55 AM.
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Old 08-30-16, 03:32 AM
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My main issue with this program is that it appears to only allow you to pick an origin and a destination ... unless I've missed something?

My problem with using Google Maps (on its own, not through this program) is that it only allows me to pick 10 places ... and allows me to drag my route onto better roads two or three times ... and then it puts up a message telling me that I can't make any further adjustments to the route. That's OK for a simple 200K randonnee or shorter ride, but useless when I'm trying to plan a longer ride or more complicated ride.


So I've just started using Ride With GPS and have been fairly impressed so far.


It appears to me that the only thing bikeroll has that Google Maps or Ride With GPS don't have is the weather (the weather for where? the start location? the finish location? somewhere in between?). Does it have any additional features I didn't notice?

Last edited by Machka; 08-30-16 at 03:44 AM.
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Old 08-30-16, 03:37 AM
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cool
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Old 08-30-16, 03:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
My main issue with this program is that it appears to only allow you to pick an origin and a destination.
You can add mid-point with the right click and then drag them as you want. Though, I agree that should be made more clear.

Originally Posted by Machka View Post
My problem with using Google Maps (on its own, not through this program) is that it only allows me to pick 10 places ... and allows me to drag my route onto better roads two or three times ... and then it puts up a message telling me that I can't make any further adjustments to the route. That's OK for a simple 200K randonnee or shorter ride, but useless when I'm trying to plan a longer ride or more complicated ride.
At this point the free google maps API limit is 8 mid-point. With some Premium plan (that costs money of course) it can be increased to 23 but that is a hard limit, I guess Ride With GPS should have the same limitations.

Originally Posted by Machka View Post
So I've just started using Ride With GPS and have been fairly impressed so far.

It appears to me that the only thing bikeroll has that Google Maps or Ride With GPS don't have is the weather. Does it have any additional features I didn't notice?
I agree Ride With GPS is a very good service, BikeRoll aims to be simpler alternative that is free, no registration, no ads, nice elevation profile.
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Old 08-30-16, 03:55 AM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Again, not the developer's fault. It's just that Google maps is awful for bike routes in our area. It reads like a subversive plan to reduce the cycling population.
I am sorry to hear that, in many areas (including mine) it gave nice results. Unfortunately, I cannot do too much to fix that problem :|
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Old 08-30-16, 04:31 AM
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I pefer paper maps.
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Old 08-30-16, 05:03 AM
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Originally Posted by ironwood View Post
I pefer paper maps.
No batteries, no waiting to load. Great until the wind gets up.
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Old 08-30-16, 05:12 AM
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Originally Posted by ironwood View Post
I pefer paper maps.
To be honest with you, I also do not use any mobile device while biking. However, when I am in the office, I like to plan the weekend ride.
Hmm, it is a good idea to add a new feature where you can download PDF description of the planned route that can be later used while riding. Thanks for the tip
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Old 08-30-16, 05:19 AM
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Originally Posted by bboti View Post
I am sorry to hear that, in many areas (including mine) it gave nice results. Unfortunately, I cannot do too much to fix that problem :|
It's not just that Google can route you through bad areas or over heavily trafficked roads. In some cases it will pick roads that aren't roads at all or that are dirt roads (some suited only for MTBs) through remote areas. I sometimes use it as a base when planning tours. While planning one day of my tour that starts next week Google picked a route that, from the satellite view, appeared to use a vacated mountain road. It also picked a road that, from Street View, you could clearly see no longer exists and was overgrown with trees. Google Maps is a decent starting point, but if the result uses minor roads, one would be wise to do more investigation, especially in remote areas.
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Old 08-30-16, 05:21 AM
  #13  
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Originally Posted by Cheddarpecker View Post
No batteries, no waiting to load. Great until the wind gets up.
How DID I make it from Seattle to Maine to Philadelphia to Ocean City, NJ using paper maps? And without a cell phone?
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Old 08-30-16, 05:25 AM
  #14  
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Originally Posted by bboti View Post
Ok, paper is not the best option for that kind of routes, I agree
Quite the opposite. Plus, the coated paper maps make great insulation. On several occasions I put one inside my jersey during long descents. No need to pull out the jacket only to have to stow it again after the descent.
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Old 08-30-16, 06:17 AM
  #15  
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Originally Posted by bboti View Post
I agree Ride With GPS is a very good service, BikeRoll aims to be simpler alternative that is free, no registration, no ads, nice elevation profile.
Ridewithgps is fairly simple and it's not too simple.

Ridewithgps certainly has the other features (what it provides for free is more than sufficient).

Except you do have to register with ridewithgps. But that allows for the important feature of being able to save your routes.
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Old 08-30-16, 06:19 AM
  #16  
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Quite the opposite. Plus, the coated paper maps make great insulation. On several occasions I put one inside my jersey during long descents. No need to pull out the jacket only to have to stow it again after the descent.
Well, the heat coming off your smartphone COULD be a help in that situation.....
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Old 08-30-16, 06:20 AM
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Originally Posted by ironwood View Post
I pefer paper maps.
So what? Are you suggesting that people not do what they like and do what you like to do? Why? Just because you like it?

It's not like this is keeping you from using paper maps.

Last edited by njkayaker; 08-30-16 at 06:29 AM.
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Old 08-30-16, 06:30 AM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
As usual for my area, Google maps suggests awful routes for bicycling. Not the fault of the developers of bikeroll. But Google maps bike routes can get you killed in Fort Worth.
I used it only once, and Google maps got me lost. I'll have to admit that my sense of direction and the cloudy wheather weren't helpful either, and it was in an area of notoriously confusing city planning, but Google expected me to cross water where there was no bridge and cross land where there were just private gardens.
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Old 08-30-16, 06:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Stadjer View Post
I used it only once, and Google maps got me lost. I'll have to admit that my sense of direction and the cloudy wheather weren't helpful either, and it was in an area of notoriously confusing city planning, but Google expected me to cross water where there was no bridge and cross land where there were just private gardens.
This could happen with any map. Even paper ones.

No maps is going to be perfect.

The real problem, it appears, is that people don't realize that.
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Old 08-30-16, 06:57 AM
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Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
This could happen with any map. Even paper ones.

No maps is going to be perfect.

The real problem, it appears, is that people don't realize that.
I'm fine with imperfection, but if there's a general weakness when it comes to cycling routes and I didn't just got unlucky it is something this site has to deal with in some way.

I like it's simplicity, but I'd like to have an alternative route presented.
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Old 08-30-16, 07:01 AM
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Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
Ridewithgps is fairly simple and it's not too simple.

Ridewithgps certainly has the other features (what it provides for free is more than sufficient).

Except you do have to register with ridewithgps. But that allows for the important feature of being able to save your routes.
I'd have to agree with this. Although I applaud the OP's effort.
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Old 08-30-16, 07:09 AM
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Originally Posted by bikecrate View Post
I'd have to agree with this. Although I applaud the OP's effort.
Thank you. This is the first version of the site, it will be improved in the future based on the feedback.
Well, this is the place where I am collecting ideas (bugs) about what should be the new features.
The (1) Paper summary and (2) savable routes are already noted
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Old 08-30-16, 07:12 AM
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Here's the thing ...

With Google Maps ...

I can click the little bicycle in order to get the elevation profile.

I can click the menu and select Bicycling in order to get the cycling paths and things which are interesting for reference. I don't necessarily use them, but I might.

Then I can type the name of a place ... and another place and another place ... 10 places in total. I don't have to click anywhere on the map, I can just type place names, and in fact, I can get really specific. I can put in an actual address.

With about 9 places selected, I can start rearranging the routes. I don't want to go on that road because I know it's too busy, but I do want to go on that road because I know it's quiet ... drag. Once you get up to 10 places, then you've only got a few adjustments left. That's an annoying limitation of Google Maps.

If I want to remove one of those 10 places, I can! Click the X and it's gone. And then I can add another place if I want. If I want to reorder them, I just drag them up or down on the list.

If I don't want to name a place because the spot I want to go isn't a town or something, I click on the map, and a little icon appears with a message that tells you what that spot is. Right click and select "Add destination" and my route goes there. Over in the list, I can reorder the new place I've just added if I decide I want to go there earlier.

Under that right click, there's also a measurement tool if I want a fairly direct measurement between two points.


I can look at the map in map format (the one I use most often) or with terrain selected or with "earth" selected.

I can go to menu and click traffic, and get the traffic density. This is helpful for planning routes on a Saturday several weeks from now because I can watch the traffic density in a particular area over several Saturdays to see if it gets heavy at about the time I want to be there.

I can print my map and cue sheet as a pdf or I can send a link to the map to a friend.

I cannot, however, save it as a GPX file. That's another limitation of Google Maps.


I can do all that with free, readily available Google Maps.


For yours to be useful, it would have to do all of what the free Google maps can do ... and more. And specifically the "more" it would have to do would be to allow me to 1) map more than 10 places and make unlimited adjustments; and 2) save it as a GPX file.

A few more specific points ...
-- can you change yours to a map instead of the earth view?
-- if you do that add midpoint thing, can you undo if you happen to click in the wrong spot, without having to clear the whole map?
-- what's the difference between selecting mtb and road? What different features will you get?
-- you'll need to check your time zones ... it's not Wednesday here for another hour yet.



Now, I may be using a slightly more advanced version of Ride with GPS, but I can do even more with it. I just mapped a rather complicated 600K randonnee route with it, with no difficulty at all. I also mapped 200K, 300K and 400K routes ... and a neat feature I used on them, which I'll use on the 600K route when I get a moment, was that I could add information about toilets, food sources, controls and all sorts of things. I can map way more than 10 locations and can save it as a GPX file. The one slight difficulty I'm having is that the cue sheet could be nicer, but I suspect that might be a feature of a more advanced version.
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Old 08-30-16, 08:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
I can click the little bicycle in order to get the elevation profile.
This is not available on all places, for example, in Eastern Europe Google Maps does not support bike routes at all!!

Originally Posted by Machka View Post
-- can you change yours to a map instead of the earth view?
Maybe I do not understand the question correctly, but there is a small button on the left lower bottom where you can change the 'MTB view' (earth) to 'map view'

Originally Posted by Machka View Post
-- if you do that add midpoint thing, can you undo if you happen to click in the wrong spot, without having to clear the whole map?
There is no undo (yet), but you can clear any mid-point by double clicking on it (it is mentioned in the 'title' of every mid-point).

Originally Posted by Machka View Post
-- what's the difference between selecting mtb and road? What different features will you get?
'Road' routes go where cars can go (except highways), while 'MTB' routes go where people can walk. I agree that there may be places where you have to pick up you bike but I guess that is acceptable when mountain biking.

Originally Posted by Machka View Post
-- you'll need to check your time zones ... it's not Wednesday here for another hour yet.
Well, that is not 'necessarily' a bug, since it aims to give you future weather forecast and there is no forecast on the given day any more (cut the c**p, to be completely honest the weather service that I am using do not provide current weather information, only future forecast info).

Originally Posted by Machka View Post
I can map way more than 10 locations and can save it as a GPX file.
To overcome this Google Maps limitation, I have to pay for a premium service. I will consider trying to make some money from the site and pay for the premium service, but nobody likes ads.

Originally Posted by Machka View Post
I could add information about toilets, food sources, controls and all sorts of things.
It is a good idea to attach addition information to the route... added the TODO notes.

Wow, thanks for all the observations and ideas, this was a very useful reply
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Old 08-30-16, 08:46 AM
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Last week I rode in an area I have never ridden in before, I too use ridewithgps and I was very pleased with how it worked out. Simple to use, elevations were spot on and the climbing % were also right on for the most part. My go to place over google maps when I need a bike route that I am not familiar with.
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