Are you a compulsive planner?

NOVEMBER 12, 2012

Source: Boston Bikes

Endomondo Screenshot

Some riders just bike for the fun of it and wait to see where the road takes them; others commute on the same route everyday without keeping track of their daily miles. If you’re someone who needs data (whether you bike for adventure, for exercise, or for efficiency) there are plenty of great map tools to help you plan and track your miles.

With a computer algorithm to direct you from point A to point B by bike, the Google maps bike functionality is pretty good, but not available on smart phones. While it doesn’t like it if you try riding west on Beacon Street from the Public Garden, it generally provides a range of routes to chose from when biking in the city with a strong preference for off-street paths. For the obsessive among us, it can also be used to retrace routes and calculate miles, but other tools can do that for you automatically.

Ride the City  is a map tool that’s really geared towards bikes, with Hubway stations and bike shops labeled along with the paths, lanes, and routes. In spite of a few inaccuracies (bikes actually aren’t allowed on the paths in the Public Garden), it’s a reliable way to plan a route with just a starting and ending point (and it does well with names of places when you don’t know the address). You can choose the “safe route”, the “safer route”, or the “direct route”. For whichever route you select, you’re provided with the total distance, time estimate, and elevation gain. Protected sections are clearly shown on the map in green, while other streets are shown in pink. You can rate the routes, but you can’t change them.

Ride with GPS allows you to plan your route in advance and see elevation changes. You can draw a route, log activity (manually or with GPS data), or sync your trip to a Garmin. Once a route has been created, graphs of elevation and grade change are produced automatically. With a few more inputs, you can calculate the calories you burned. You can also export your route into files to use with GPS and GIS in the future. Best of all, if you think you’ve got a great route to share, you can make it public or share it with friends.

endomondo does the heavy lifting for you if you link it to your smart phone. The app tracks any kind of mobile workout (you can tell it if you’re transport cycling or out for a run), and then produces data on the time, distance, average speed, and elevation along with a complete route map. If you can remember to start and stop it each time you ride, this is a fantastic way to track your cycling. You can also compare your routes and stats with friends or join challenges within the endomondo community.

If you’re someone who likes to get rewards from your daily trips but doesn’t care about tracking the nuances of your route, sign up for NuRide. You won’t get to see a particular route, but by recording your daily destinations, NuRide calculates your approximate direct mileage and then gives you rewards for choosing to bike instead of driving alone. They also reward carpooling, transit trips, and walking. If you make the same trip regularly, you can set up your profile to automatically update your trip data. To date 273,189 biking trips have been logged in the NuRide system in Massachusetts.

If at the end of the day, you just want a paper map to carry with you, shoot us an email at bostonbikes@cityofboston.gov, and we’ll mail you a free bike map.