Things It Would Be Great To See Finished (part 1) – Bicycle Routing Map for GFK

I’m always trying to organize myself a little bit more. Unfortunately, this means not being able to take the time to do (all by myself) everything I think would be totally awesome.

Excuse me while I take my pizza out of the oven.

The first of the many things I would like to highlight is my idea for an online bicycle routing map for the cities of Grand Forks, ND and East Grand Forks, MN. Obviously, these are small towns and don’t warrant the attention of people who like to develop maps on a large scale, but since I’m here and want to encourage people to ride more, I’d like to see it happen. This idea stems from my Advanced GIS class at the University of North Dakota, during which I built an (offline) routing map that integrated the streets, paths, and bike lanes to try to study specific routing problems in the city.

I discovered (last spring semester it was) that the mapping service Cloudmade was utilizing Open Street Map to do similar things for projects such as Ride the City. I began adding things via GPS tracks towards the end of the summer (I spent most of the spring and summer in a wheelchair/on crutches), but have not had time recently to add any more or work on the specific details. It would be great if anyone else in the area was interested in collaborating (competing?) on making OSM as reflective of the real-world as possible.

Not only this, but I’ve constructed an example of what the interface could do, with some tweaking. See the example here, [seems not to work in Opera 11, hmm] and remember that I’m not responsible if you get lost. Specifically, I’m not sure how the routing algorithm works, how it weights streets, and how it can be customized. It would be great if someone could help me with this or explain it to me. The link above has a list of project goals.

The point? For anyone who is not a bicycle commuter, even in a city as small as Grand Forks, the prospect of getting between points A and B is a daunting one. You need to deal with traffic, you need to look at intersections a certain way, and you may need to bend the law (or think you need to) in order to get where you are going (to follow a sidewalk under an underpass, for example). A routing map specifically aimed at cyclists and took into account some of the oddities of this particular city (“mistakes in planning”, let’s say) would make this step of commuting a little bit easier and maybe help people make it farther than down the block.

I’m open to questions, comments, and offers of help (or desires to take over the project completely). I don’t know of a similar project in the works for this area.

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