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Bike route finder for Boulder, Colorado

by Richard Masoner
Go Bike Boulder logo

On Thursday, June 21 the city of Boulder, Colorado launched GOBikeBoulder.net, a new online mapping service that provides individualized bike routes, much like MapQuest and Google Maps do for cars. Users are encouraged to test the new site and submit feedback online.

GOBikeBoulder.net is a one-of-a-kind online tool that offers interactive routing for those traveling by bike around the city. The routing includes not only a map for the rider, but also turn-by-turn directions. Users also are able to find out estimates on how many calories they burn pedaling their route, how many feet they climb and how much gas money they save.

“As far as we know, this tool is the first of its kind created specifically for bike routing,” said GO Boulder Program Manager Martha Roskowski. “We’re excited to launch it just in time for Walk and Bike Week.”

“We are still working out a few kinks and we continue to refine the functionality of this new site. However, we’re now in a place where we’d like the public to test it and tell us what they think. We welcome everyone’s feedback,” said Roskowski.

The tool allows the user to select between routes that stay primarily off-street or on-street. If a user chooses “off street,” the route mapped will stay on multi-use paths as much as possible. However, if they choose “on street,” the route will keep them on the roadway either in a dedicated on-street bicycle lane, side by side with motorists or in on a dedicated bike route where cyclists and motorists share the travel lane, unless a nearby path is considered a more direct route.

“Boulder has over 300 miles of bike lanes, routes, designated shoulders and paths,” said Roskowski. “This tool will help bicyclists navigate Boulder’s bike system safely. Our goal was to help riders discover the best routes to take by getting them on the bike system as soon as possible and keeping them on it for as long as possible. Not every route provided will be the fastest route. Sometimes, it’s the safer route instead.”

Users of the site are asked to register first. While it’s not mandatory to register, registrations help program organizers track use and usefulness The data will be used to apply for additional grant money that could be used to expand the program to include more tools and possibly a larger geographic area.

Those that register will receive a follow-up questionnaire. For completing the questionnaire, participants will receive a coupon for a free Ben and Jerry’s ice cream cone and will be entered into a grand prize drawing for a Colorado bike getaway for two. Those that are the first to register will be given the choice of a free cyclometer or bike map holder. When these supplies run out, registered users will receive the recently updated Boulder bike/pedestrian map.

 
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5 Responses to “Bike route finder for Boulder, Colorado”

  1. Anne says:

    It’s a cool idea, isn’t it? I was really excited about this site launching (I live in Boulder and ride my bike everywhere) but in reality I haven’t found it to be all that useful. It seems to me that it would be a lot more useful if it included the area immediately surrounding Boulder (I commute 10 miles out of the city limits and that’s where I’d like to find more routes, or connecting routes to other parts of the Denver area…that’s where it really becomes more difficult) and my other complaint would be that the directions are needlessly complex and seem to add a couple of miles to even the simplest routes.

    What I’d like to see would be options for the shortest route or to include pike paths, bike lanes bike routes and other roads as options that you could select. I know, this is a great thing and I am whining about it not being good enough. But perhaps to better illustrate the point…I ride to my piano lesson every week. The total distance is 5.2 miles on one fantastic bike path and a road with wonderful bike lanes, with a little jog through campus in the middle. Keep in mind that the campus is fairly large and that one of the reasons I can get places so quickly on my bike is that I can cut through the roads on campus without going all the way around. (Keep in mind that I am still talking about roads here, but they are often blocked to cars that can’t access them via bike paths. The system doesn’t seem to realize that they are easily and legally accessible by bike).

    When I use this site to calculate directions it gives me 35 turns over 7 miles. It increases not only the distance and complexity but also danger, since many of the roads it recommends are one-way, narrow, and/or crowded, and it takes me down the Boulder Creek Path which is perhaps the most dangerous place to ride a bike in Boulder apart from Hwy 36. The Go-Boulder route includes big uphills, traversing town W->E->W->E, whereas my route goes W->E, all downhill.

    I *love* the idea, but hope that they add in some features that will make it truly useful. This sort of thing is more useful on a regional basis and I find that the standard bike map is really sufficient for getting around Boulder itself.

    My two cents.

    Anne

  2. Tony Pereira says:

    We have a service like this here in Portland: http://tripplanner.bycycle.org/
    It works quite well. Best of luck with your new system.

  3. Larry Ferguson says:

    Post for Anne -

    Hi Anne,

    My name is Larry Ferguson, I work for the City of Boulder GIS Department and I am one of the project team members of the GO Bike Boulder web routing project. Thanks for posting your comments to the Commute by Bike blog site and for your valuable feedback.

    1. It is VERY important to us that we get you onboard as a satisfied customer. Our goal is to have a great bike web routing site that is useful for all the citizens of Boulder. In that spirit we’re asking if it works for you, that at your convenience, please contact us so we can best address your experiences using the site.

    2. Would it work for you if we discussed your experiences using the site via a phone call? We have found in certain instances, this is a good way to communicate and work through a series of issues. My work phone number is (303) 441-3213 and I would be glad to discuss.

    3. Another option could be if you were going to be in downtown Boulder in the near future, we could schedule a meeting at our City GIS Offices (1300 Canyon) and
    test routes you ride on our computer routing system. If we met for 30 minutes, we could cover a lot of ground. We have already done this with several citizens and found it a
    most valuable way to address their routing experiences and ultimately improve the web site.

    Please advise if any of these options work for you or if you have a different preference or idea, and we’ll go from there.

    Thanks again for your input and we look forward to hearing from you.

    Larry

    Laurence Ferguson
    City of Boulder Planning and Development Services
    Information Resources GIS
    PO Box 791 Boulder, CO 80306
    303/441.3213 (phone)
    303/441.4070 (fax)
    FergusonL@bouldercolorado.gov (e-mail)

  4. P. Jones says:

    “GOBikeBoulder.net is a one-of-a-kind online tool…”

    bycycle.org has been in operation for about two years, offering a similar service.

    “As far as we know, this tool is the first of its kind created specifically for bike routing…”

    bikemetro.com, though apparently now defunct, was the first tool like this in the US (that I’m aware of). It covered the entire Los Angeles metro area.

    There are bicycle route finders covering parts of Europe as well.

  5. Doug Grinbergs says:

    Like the (ever-clumsy and goofy Denver area) RTD bus/rail route finder (I test Mac software for a living), this could be a lot easier to use. While it, of course, accepts valid street addresses, it chokes on other obvious input, like an intersection.

    * intersection: 14th & Pearl

    Beginning Address Not Found. Please try another method of route selection

    followed by

    Route Not Found./nPlease Try Different Start or End Points

    (note “/n” where newline should be; guessing that should be backquote)

    From user’s POV, one error alert is enough, and it should be helpful, e.g. “I can’t interpret an intersection. Please enter a complete street address (number and street).”

    * When making a guess on non-matching street, there’s no feedback about that, e.g. “Pea” silently interpreted as “Peak”, Pear > Pearl.

    If there are a couple of possible matches, it seems sensible to give user a selection choice.

    * no origination and destination in one – nice convenience – as in Google Maps:

    14th & Pearl to 29th & Canyon

    (Google Maps: with default location set, it accepts – and displays correct info – without further prompting for city, ZIP, state)

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