Posts Tagged ‘Google Maps’

New Detroit bike map and parking

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

You may have noticed a new menu item on the web site for Bike Map+Parking. This is a new Detroit bicycle map showing where many bike racks are within the city.

The map itself is the Google Maps bicycle layer, which is looking fairly accurate now. You can zoom in, scroll around, use Streetview, etc.

The bike parking information comes from Wayne State University, the Southwest Detroit Business Association, and a whole bunch of riding around and taking photos. There are one or more bike racks at each of the 201 documented locations, shown as a red dot.

Clicking on a red dot opens a window with more information and in most cases a photo.

If you have bike parking information, please forward it to the email, todd@michigantrails.org. Only Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park information is being collected.

The Detroit data will be used in a Bicycle Friendly Community application, which is really was spurred this project.

 

Google Bicycle Layer: Detroit additions

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

Google Maps has a bicycle layer which shows three main types of bicycle facilities: off-road pathways (dark green), roads with bike lanes (lighter green), and roads that are preferred bicycle routes (dotted green).

As of this today, the city of Detroit has been updated.

  • Milbank Greenway added
  • Conner Creek Greenway added (including St. Jean and Clairpointe bike lanes)
  • Southwest Detroit Greenlink added (bike lanes only)
  • Atwater bike lanes added
  • “bike lanes” on Joy Road removed
  • “bike lanes” on Fort Street removed
  • RiverWalk sections added

There are still more corrections to make.

  • W. Outer Drive and W. Chicago are shown with bike lanes when they only have shoulders.
  • There are still some sections of sidewalk shown as “preferred” bicycle routes.
  • The Southwest Detroit Greenlink bike routes should be labelled as “preferred.”

We’ll get to these changes unless someone beats us to it.

We also removed the sidewalk along Lakeshore through the Pointes as a preferred bicycle path/trail.

What are the benefits?

For one, the map can help cyclists map their route. It’s interactive and up to date, though some may still prefer a printed bike map, especially since not everyone has a smart phone or direct access to the Internet.

Having an accurate bicycle layer also affects how Google generates bike route directions. Google will try to route cyclists on to bike lanes and preferred routes when it makes sense.

On the other hand, having an inaccurate bicycle layer can make bike directions less valuable. Google has directed us out of our way to use a sidewalk in Troy that has been labelled as a preferred bicycle route.

How to update the bicycle layer

The bicycle layer can be updated using the Google Mapmaker utility. There is a review and approval process for changes so it’s not as instant as Wikipedia.

Mapmaker gives you the ability to change roads attributes, sidewalks, places, and more. It appears bike racks are not being added to this map.

Guide to Mapmaker bicycle facilities

The Google guidelines on how to appropriately label bicycle facilities aren’t always that clear, but here are some key points.

  • Paved shoulders are not bike lanes. Google’s best practices says, “Roads without explicit paint markings or signage indicating a bicycle lane should not be given the ‘On-street bicycle lane attribute'”. Since paved shoulders of adequate width can improve bicycling, they can be labeled as “preferred.”
  • Sidewalks and sidepaths are not trails/paths. Sidewalks and sidepaths should be documented as part of the road attributes. Google’s best practices says they should only be mapped as separate trails/paths when they’re “separated by a river, railway, or other impassable physical barrier.” Yes, many parts of Oakland County has improperly labelled bicycle features.
  • Sidewalks are rarely preferred bicycle routes. If the above guideline is followed, sidewalks along roads can’t be. It’s less clear for sidewalks that are not along a road. In some cities like Royal Oak, bicycling on a sidewalk is prohibited. Sidewalks aren’t usually not cleared of snow by cities unlike streets, so their value in the winter can be variable. We’ve removed a preferred sidewalk segment in Royal Oak that had stairs.

Detroit bike shorts: Updates from around the city

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

Google Bike Directions

If you use Google Maps to get a bike route between Detroit and Windsor, it will give you directions to use the Tunnel. Of course the Tunnel is not open to cyclists so we alerted Google and they are in the process of correcting that.

Southwest Detroit

We recently heard from the Southwest Detroit Business Association (SDBA) that construction on the Corktown/Mexicantown/West Vernor Greenlinks are on schedule and are close to moving to bid. “Construction is still scheduled for this spring/summer.”

Also on the Southwest side of Detroit, Model D is reporting on a planned Beard Park expansion led by the Urban Neighborhood Initiative (UNI). The plans call for a pump track. We helped connect Miss Cory Coffey — a BMX World Champion now living in Detroit — with this project. Beard Park is located north of W. Fort Street and a couple blocks east of Woodmere.

Detroit to Muskegon bike route

The League of Michigan Bicyclists has compiled input from cyclists to create a bicycle route from Detroit to Musekgon. The PDF route is on-line and it is very large at 27 megabytes.

RiverWalk’s Faye Nelson

Detroit Riverfront Conservancy President Faye Nelson received the 24th Soul and Spirit Humanitarian Award from Judge Damon Keith. Nelson also recently recognized by Grio as a History Maker in the Making for her RiverWalk efforts. “Nelson’s work has brought over $100 million to the area and renewed interest in the once-struggling neighborhood, becoming not just a beautification project, but a rallying point for the community.”

Reimagining Livernois

A Free Press editorial discusses the planning efforts to revitalize Livernois Avenue in Northwest Detroit.

Urban Land Institute’s Daniel Rose Center for Public Leadership in Land Use gathered in northwest Detroit. The urban planners, developers, city managers and architects spent four days generating ideas to turn the Livernois corridor — from 6 Mile to St. Martins, north of 7 Mile — into a thriving urban main street that could meet the retail and entertainment needs of one of the city’s most affluent neighborhoods. Similar Urban Land Institute efforts will take place this year in Charlotte, Sacramento and Houston.

One of the group’s conclusions is to make the street more bike friendly with traffic calming and bike paths. The relatively new boulevard, while improving pedestrian and vehicle safety, does limit the options for on-road bike facilities. There may not be enough room for bike lanes. Sharrows would be an alternative. And while sharrows may not make the road comfortable for less experienced cyclists, it should be possible to make the parallel residential streets more bike friendly.

Ordonez bikes

As many Red Wings have done, Detroit Tiger Magglio Ordonez now includes biking, including mountain biking in his training regimen.

[Alex] Avila noted how Ordonez would occasionally be a few minutes late for the workouts, only to have a pretty good excuse.

“We’d say, ‘Where have you been,'” Avila said. “‘Oh, I was riding my bike 15 miles.'”

Ordonez’s workout regimen drew attention last year, when his program was compared to that of a football player. But he also got into bicycle riding, especially mountain bikes.

It looks like the Tigers are at home for the 2011 Tour de Troit weekend… You in, Maggio?

Correcting bicycle facilities on Google Maps

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know Google has added bicycle directions to Google Maps.

And, when you’re looking at their map, you can turn on the bicycling information by hovering over the “More…” button. The bicycle facilities that show up (e.g. bike lanes, bike routes) are given priority when giving directions.

One problem is Google thinks there are bicycle facilities where they are none.

For example, you’ll see a dark green line show up on the east side of Woodward around 12 Mile Road (as of this morning or the attached picture.) It’s about 50 feet east of Woodward, roughly where parts of an alleyway exists — and that’s not something they should be routing us on.

After this showed up on some bicycle routing we made on Tuesday, we clicked on Google’s Report a Problem link. We selected the bad routing portion from the drop down menu and said, “There is no road or bicycle facility to turn on to.” We quickly received a confirmation email.

This morning we received this response:

Your Google Maps problem report has been reviewed, and you were right! We’ll update the map soon and email you when you can see the change.

In our opinion, less than three business days is a decent turnaround time for investigating this issue. We’ll see how soon they update their base map.

There are other non-existent or improper (e.g. sidewalk) bicycle facilities throughout this area. Clearly Google is relying on similar efforts from many people (i.e. crowdsourcing) to improve their bicycle routing.

National Bike Summit: a Detroit perspective

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

The 10th National Bike Summit in Washington DC was last week. This three day event was a great opportunity to learn the latest on bike advocacy issues, lobby Congress, and network with peers.

I was attending this wearing a two main MTGA hats: Detroit Greenways Coordinator and Michigan Airline Trail Ambassador.

My highlight was Thursday morning. We had a group breakfast for last minute legislative updates and some cheerleading prior to our Congressional office visits. I was waiting behind this older gentleman for coffee. Being a bit impatient, I asked if I could cut in front. He poured my coffee and I said “Thanks”. It was then that I realized Congressman James Oberstar — one of the key bike supporters in DC and chair of the House Transportation committee — had just poured my coffee.

It was going to be a great day!

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