Mapping & Routes
As more and more communities commit to becoming places where everyone wants to ride a bike, great examples of mapping and routes are emerging. Unfortunately, lots of really bad examples, especially with routes and signage, can still be found all over the world. But let's start with mapping.
One of the most recent and exciting mapping resources to come online is the Google Maps bicycle directions. They are still expanding this from mostly North American destinations, but certainly a great tool now and one to watch. Just fill in your start and finish locations and click the little bicycle icon to see recommended bicycle directions.
In Europe, EuroVelo is establishing long distance routes that cross many countries, an excellent resource for long bicycle tours. It can also reveal areas that are committed to great bike routes to help you make your bicycle vacation plans.
In Germany, the ADFC is the top resource for maps and route finding. They also offer a Bed & Bike program that will help you find bicycle friendly accommodations all along your chosen route.
In North America, the best resource for maps and long bicycle routes is Adventure Cycling. They're even working on a national bicycle route designation system.
Local bike maps are a whole different ball game. Check with your city or local bicycle advocacy organization to find out what maps are already available. The best city bicycling maps:
- Clearly show preferred routes criss-crossing the entire city,
- Do not leave gaps that can lead cyclists into dangerous situations,
- Show ALL street names so cyclists can find their location along the entire route,
- Do not mark dangerous streets; maps that add a special color to such streets can mislead cyclists into actually choosing these streets,
- Are always combined with clear route signage along each street (see next section).
Routes & Signage
Great bicycle routes and their accompanying signage follow three simple rules:
- Consistent colors and shapes for all signs
- Frequent, easy-to-find signs
- Clear information regarding distance to common destinations
One of the most common mistakes made when installing bike route signs is to use signs with zero information. If you were riding along and knew that your destination was straight ahead, would you actually turn right if you came upon a sign like this? >>>>>>
A better example from Portand, Oregon >>>>
<<<< Also be sure to include CLEAR information. A prize to the first person who can decipher the bicycle route sign to the left!
For an excellent overview of best practices in bicycle route signage, be sure to read this article by Morten Kerr: "Bicycle Routes and Signage ."