Ridethecity.com is one of the coolest Google maps mashups I’ve seen lately. It centers on NYC, and is dedicated to finding bike routes around the city. It combines Google’s automatic pathfinding routines with the site’s creators’ personal knowledge of biking around the city. There are three options for planning a route: safest route, safe route, and most direct route. Direct will stick you mostly on roads, while safe and safest stick with varying degrees to bike paths and greenways. The safest selection will often take riders out of their way to find bike-friendly routes. I wonder – with topographic data now in Google maps, could a site like this also calculate bike routes with the least uphill distance possible? I’ve been riding my bike around Chapel Hill quite a bit, and Ridethecity makes me wish there was a similar site for my area.
This is a great example of making refined automatic routines even more useful by injecting a heavy dose of personal human expertise. It makes me wish we could get more open access to the inner workings of the databases that libraries pay so much for. What fun and useful mods would result?