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Starting a Northeast Ohio bike map online

Marc Lefkowitz  |  09/12/08 @ 4:24pm

At last count, 41,582 people had signed the petition to add a 'Bike There' feature to the popular Google Maps system. It would be similar to the 'Take Transit There' or 'Walk There' features which were recently added to the original Drive There. The petition reads:

The feature would take into account actual bicycle lanes from the locality being mapped, and it would automatically plan a route for a bicyclist, possibly even providing the cyclist options for either the most direct route, or the most bicycle-friendly (safest) route.

A group of cycling advocates leads the effort at googlemapsbikethere.org. They report that "The City of Austin has said there is 'an ongoing effort' with Google to make bicycle directions happen, and that they are one of the test cities." They also report that some cities have their own bike route mapping initiatives with groups inputting bike routes on a Google Map.

What would it take to initiate a Northeast Ohio Bike Map online?

The effort might begin by getting the bike route data for Cleveland, Cuyahoga and surrounding counties in a digital format. The city of Cleveland has GIS maps of the bike routes and lanes used for its Citywide Bike Plan, and NOACA has files of bike routes used in its five-county bike map.

Then, it would take inputting the file data in Google Maps. It is possible to overlay a PDF or bitmap graphic over a Google Map using a custom tile layer. An example of that is on-line at http://www.michigantrails.org/map (the tile layer was created using ArcGIS and MapCruncher).

The goal is to convert good paper maps like NOACA's bike maps or EcoCity Cleveland's Circle-Heights Bike Map into an editable format online. We've run across one home grown effort that is in the very early stage: Some folks at FutureHeights are taking ideas from the CircleHeights Bike project and creating bike tours of historical locations in the Heights and University Circle using Google Earth (right now it's a series of locations ? the routes are not there.

If you don't think Cleveland should wait for Google and should start mapping its bike routes now, or if you know of a local effort underway to do this, leave a comment and make sure to mention how you would like to help.

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