Saturday, May 06, 2017

Stress Free Bike Maps


Montgomery County in Maryland has created a stress frees route planner for cyclists. The Bikeway Stress Levels map shows you the most and least stressful streets for cycling in the county. It can also plan a route for you that avoids the most stressful roads.

To create the map the Montgomery County Planning Department rated every single road in the county based on how stressful it is for cyclists. The ratings are based on attributes like "traffic speed, traffic volume, number of lanes, frequency of parking turnover, ease of intersection crossings and other characteristics".

The Bikeway Stress Levels interactive map shows the stress rating for each road by simply coloring each road on the map by its assigned stress rating. If you select a road on the map you can view details about the road, such as the number of traffic lanes, the speed limit, whether there is on-street parking or whether there is a bike lane.


Montgomery County's approach is very labor intensive. To assign a stress level to every road in the county the Planning Department assessed each road on Google Maps Street View and visited many of the roads in person.

A quicker but less accurate method for assigning a cycling 'stress' or 'safety' rating to roads is to use Open Street Map tags. Mapzen's Bike Map does exactly this to help you navigate the safest way to cycle. The Mapzen Bike Map colors roads and bike paths based on three different tiers of safety, allowing you to tell at a glance which roads are the safest for cyclists.

The three tiers are:
  • Green (safest) - off road bike paths
  • Orange (less safe) - on road bike lanes
  • Blue (least safe) - no bike lanes
The Bike Map uses data from Open Street Map. This means that the map works for anywhere in the world. It also means that if you don't think the map is accurate enough in your area you can improve the map by contributing to Open Street Map.

If you want to use the Bike Map in your own maps you can! You just need to add the Walkabout basemap style to a Tangram map and turn on the bike tier data. The Mapzen Blog has more details on how to use the Bike Map layer in your own maps. It also has more details on how the map was designed and the other biking features that you can find on the Bike Map basemap.
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