Discover new places with the Chicago Bike Guide’s points of interest.
Thank you to whomever nominated my app for a “Built in Chicago” Moxie award! I’m very flattered. I’m up against some steep competition, like School Cuts, a web application that helps parents understand the school closing and consolidation changes proposed by Chicago Public Schools.
Vote here – you can vote each day and voting ends June 12, 2013. The Chicago Bike Guide is listed as the Chicago Bike Map App, the old name, under “Best Civic App”.
There has never been a bike lane on Halsted Street between Fulton and North Branch, except for two blocks between Grand and Erie.
I recently came across an instance of “too much data”. Normally I encounter missing data on my map, or in data sources that power my map.
I was reading attorney Mike Keating’s blog about a case he recently settled. A person riding a bike was struck by a car driven by someone who ran a red light at Chicago Avenue and Halsted Street. This text caught my attention:
This bicycle crash occurred as the bicyclist rode northbound in the designated bike lane on Halsted Street at its intersection with West Chicago Avenue.
I was imagining this location and realized that there is no bike lane here, neither on Halsted Street nor Chicago Avenue. I recalled that Halsted lacks a bike lane for the 1.2 miles between Van Buren Street and North Branch Street, except for a short segment between Grand Avenue and Erie Street. Instead of bike lanes, though, Chicago Avenue and Halsted Street widen to create a difficult-to-pass-through intersection for those riding bicycles, and an easier-to-speed-through area for those driving cars.
There has never been a bike lane here (I checked Google Earth historic imagery), yet the City of Chicago’s printed and online maps show it! (The online map is not as current as the printed map.)
This has been fixed in the Chicago Bike Guide and will appear on a future update (see what it looks like now). I’ve notified Keating and the City of Chicago about the bike lane’s appearance. I’ve also updated OpenStreetMap to reflect the current conditions and remove the bike lane designation from Halsted Street. Updating the OpenStreetMap data may have implications on routing, giving Halsted Street less preference when the routing engine ranks all possible routes to a destination.
If you notice errors in the map, or areas where the map detail could be improved, leave a comment so I can see what can be improved.
There are two name formatting errors in this view of the Chicago Bike Guide map. 1) There shouldn’t be a space between “Mc” and “Clurg” and (2) “Amc” in “Amc Theater” should be in all caps.
I am trying to improve the routing function and the base map.
For the routing I am trying to convince MapQuest to make some changes to their Open Directions API that would improve the bike route results (particularly, excluding routing people down alleys); additionally, I’m trying to install OSRM so I can create my own routes based on my own rules. If you know OSRM, I’d like to talk to you.
But here’s where everyone else can help me: identifying errors in the map. Where streets were changed, where buildings were demolished, where bike lanes were added or removed, where there are spelling mistakes. Leave a comment below with the address, intersection or name of the object (what’s spelled over the building area) as well as what’s wrong with it. I’ll fix it right away and it will be fixed in the next app release.
The nature of OpenStreetMap is like Wikipedia: anyone can edit what appears on the map. And I can edit how it appears in the Chicago Bike Guide.
If you don’t have the app, but still want to help, you can see the map in the demo area, or on OpenStreetMap.org itself.
Streetsblog Chicago is a new blog in the Chicago Bike Guide.
Version 0.7 dropped last Sunday. Here’s what’s new about it.
The first was an improved routing engine. I prematurely shipped version 0.6 with a routing engine that I wasn’t satisfied with. You can read about this in a separate post. This new engine (from MapQuest) comes with a new feature: distance and estimated travel time. I’m looking for feedback on the distance and estimated travel time popup. Does it stay up long enough? Do you want to be able to bring it back?
I’m also looking for feedback on the quality of the trip results: did you follow what it gave you? Was it a good or bad route?
Updated base map
The map tiles have been updated in the two weeks since version 0.6 was issued. I update the map tiles every time for two reason: the first is that there are likely new bikeways to add or change; the second reason is to make sure I include all the detail that’s available to the public on OpenStreetMap. OSM is the Wikipedia of maps and allows anyone to add and change features. When all of the buildings in Chicago were added to the map, the level of detail on the map really increased. People are also constantly making additions (like golf course greens) and corrections (misspelled building names).
See an issue in the map? Correct it yourself or suggest it to me in the comments. Here’s something cool I did in OSM for last weekend’s #editathon.
I adjusted the map quality (indiscernible on retina displays) to reduce the app’s size, by about 17 MB. There may be other opportunities to reduce app size. However, it increased threefold from version 0.5 to version 0.6 because I provided more map tiles to show beautifully on retina displays (most app users have a device with retina display).
I’ve added Streetsblog Chicago to the list of blogs in the “Discussion & Blogs” page. I replaced the launch screen images with ones that fit into Apple’s design guidelines.
Two people informed me they had installation issues with the update: the app would download over wifi but fail to install. I suggested that they connect their device to iTunes. The app is quite large and it seems iTunes will install it successfully. I wasn’t able to confirm with them that this was the issue as neither required additional assistance.
I fixed an issue that people would rarely encounter, that of ETAChicago.com loading the previously used location for which to retrieve bus and rail tracker times.
This is a sampling of new or changed features that will be coming in future versions:
- Separate the two Twitter feeds – #bikeCHI and #chiLFT – into their own panes so you can quickly assess the condition of the Lakefront Trail.
- Add some kind of stolen bike tracker. See information on the most recently reported stolen bikes in Chicago.
- Add a location search to the map screen instead of putting it two taps away.
- Add campgrounds to the map (this is pretty difficult because I can’t find any campgrounds near Chicago)
Routing on the Chicago Bike Guide, as seen in the upcoming version 0.7.
The current version of Chicago Bike Guide, 0.6 released on Friday, is using routing from CloudMade. However, I prematurely included routing in version 0.6. Routing works, but the results aren’t very good. After releasing version 0.6 I concluded that I should have used a different routing engine. Friday night I wrote new code to switch to MapQuest Open Directions; this will come out in version 0.7, currently waiting for review by Apple.
Buy and download now in iTunes.
The two engines use the same dataset: OpenStreetMap, the Wikipedia of worldwide maps. The problem with CloudMade is that they haven’t copied over to their servers a recent version of the OpenStreetMap “Planet”. This means that you may be routed the wrong direction on a one-way street (street direction wasn’t always in the Chicago part of the OpenStreetMap Planet – it was completed earlier this year). MapQuest updates their copy of Planet more frequently than CloudMade. MapQuest seems to have a more active developer community and because of this I’ve made the request that MapQuest’s Open Directions routing engine stop creating routes that tell bicyclists to ride down alleys.
Version 0.7 adds another routing feature: trip distance and duration shown as soon as the route is fetched. Tap the “Start” button to dismiss the popup and the map will pan to your current location. Another feature implemented in version 0.7 is a slightly smaller file size for the app (by removing unused files).
See screenshots of other new features.
I’ve included my personal steak burrito recommendations in the app in a feature called “Fuel Finder”.
Buy and download now in iTunes.
These are the 10 best new and updated features in the latest (two) versions of the Chicago Bike Guide:
- Retina display compatible! You’ll see more detail, including more building names, when browsing the map.
- Routing! Get a recommended route from your current location to any of the points of interest (including CTA, Metra, Amtrak, and bus stations). *
- CTA bus and train tracker: Every point of interest has a link to estimated arrival times from ETAChicago.com (tap the link and you will be taken to Safari).
- Blogs and Updates: See the latest discussion threads on The Chainlink, posts from Streetsblog Chicago, Lawyer Jim Freeman’s blog, and the app blog, and events posted to The Chainlink.
- Photos: See photos taken nearby that were posted to Flickr. See photos posted to Twitter with the #bikeCHI hashtagged (view them on the map if they were tweeted with location).
- Need some fuel? Personal burrito recommendations from Steven are shown on the map along with my rating and comments.
- Repairing your own bike at a DIY repair stand? A new graphic shows you how to mount your bike in the stand and gives you a link to a library of video tutorials.
- Find places to rent a bike if you have a friend visiting, or you’re a visitor yourself.
- Two-day simple weather forecast (loads really fast).
- The “Find Me” (GPS) button is much easier to access now.
Images posted to Twitter with the #bikeCHI hashtag are now shown on the Twitter page. If they’re geotagged, they’ll appear on the map.
* You can get a route from your location to anywhere through one of two ways:
- Tap the “Target” button and type in an address or a place in the search field. Tap search. In a couple seconds, your request should be found and marked. Now tap the “route” button on that marker’s popup window.
- Tap “Find Me” and move the pink marker to your desired destination. Then tap the “route” button on that marker’s popup window.
Some point of interest categories have their own unique icon, to quickly identify them on the map.
With a major update like this, it’s time to take a step back from the product description I’ve been using to see if it still reflects the functions and priorities of the product. I noticed a lot has changed. One of the biggest changes – which started with version 0.5 – has been the transition from just a map with a lot of points to a guide. Keep reading to see why the app can now be your guide to biking in Chicago.
The Chicago Bike Guide is the best way to navigate Chicago’s vast network of bikeways and cool destinations. The entire app is stored on your iOS device, allowing you to browse freely without an internet connection. Version 0.6 brings new features that take an advantage of an available internet connection.
You can design your own route, get a suggested route, or discover new ways to get from A to B on streets with bikeways or on trails. Get directions from your location to any of the embedded points of interest, trailheads, recommended restaurants, and train and bus stations (Greyhound and Megabus). With a link to ETAChicago, see when buses and trains are arriving at your current location or any of the points of interest, including at all train and bus stations.
The map shows you all area off-street trails, every type of bike lane, streets with sharrows, and the slow service drives lining each boulevard. Trails included are [removed for brevity].
Get directions to your destination with this visual route indicator.
New features in version 0.6
In order by significance
- Routing/directions: Get a visual indicator for which path to take to your destination from your current location. This route is provided by CloudMade and is in beta.
- Updated map tiles: Now retina-display compatible; includes the latest bike lanes; adds streets with sharrows and identifies the Boulevards’ service drives as “slow streets”; new icons.
- Flickr integration: See #bikeCHI photos that were taken near you; these appear on the homescreen if you have an internet connection, and on their own page.
- Enhanced Twitter integration: shows photos in the tweet.
- Blogs: Read updates from Lawyer Jim Freeman (an app sponsor), and the official app blog.
- Discussion threads on The Chainlink
- Upcoming events from The Chainlink
- Fuel Finder: Lists highly-rated taquerias (by me) to keep your Miles Per Burrito up.
- “Find Me” button is more accessible, in lower-left corner
- Two-day, simple weather forecast
- More points of interest, which now includes Amtrak, Greyhound, and Megabus stations; additionally has photography hotspots that are easy to get to by bike, or can only be accessed by walking or biking; some #APA13 locations: the convention center and the Bloomingdale Trail.
- Points of interest categories have unique icons to tell them apart when viewing the map
- Map displays bike rental locations and contact information
- Enhancements to Theft Prevention and DIY Repair Stand pages