Last week Mapzen announced that they included bike data in their OSM vector tiles. That’s just what the doctor ordered to continue on my path towards the perfect bike map that I started on, explored routing and looked at improving OSM bike data. Now that I don’t need to extract bike data myself any more it is time to take these maps global. And maybe add some minor improvements. To make the bike map boils down to deciding what OSM roads, paths, etc to map and how to map them.
Since I started thinking about tax density, the amount of property taxes collected per area, I always felt that the data presentation in the map fell short. Property taxes are somewhat insulated from the ups and downs of the real estate market as they are need-based and the mill rate changes to flatten out the crazyness of the market. But what they lack in interesting patterns over time they more than makes up for in interesting patterns in space.
Routing is a hard problem. Routing for drivers is pretty good at this point, mostly because we have been very good at designing for cars and creating predicable infrastructure. Routing for bikes is a whole other story, data quality is poor and the physical infrastructure is, at least in North America, not strongly predictive of cycling comfort/safety. And cycling comfort/safety is the top priority for the vast majority of (potential) cyclists.
Here come some general thoughts on bike maps. Not throught through yet, just jotting down some ideas so that I don’t forget and maybe to start a discussion. Bike enthusiasts, OSM folks and mapping technology wonks read on! Why make a new bike map? Plainly put, I don’t like a lot of the bike maps out there. Time for my little bike map rant: Lots of maps don’t accomplish their core mission: accurately map bike infrastructure.