Map coolness, and hirsute ruminants

Have you ever wanted to calculate the total distance of a mapped route, or share a detailed bike route with others? The various online maps tend to plot routes that are inappropriate for human power. This route planner is the first use I’ve seen of Google Maps’ public application programming interface, and it looks like it will shape up into a great tool for bicyclists and pedestrians.

You can bookmark and share routes you draw. Here’s the outbound leg of yesterday afternoon’s ride with my son in the trailer. I was a little sloppy drawing the points; the actual distance was 24 something miles out; 48 total. Using the satellite view, I could have traced the actual route of the Springwater Trail a little better. What are some of your favorite routes?

What I’d like to see next is gross elevation gain. Does the map data include elevations?

I’ll note in passing that Stokemonkey makes it delightful for this 39-year old with bum knees, a damaged lumbar disc, and a tenacious chest cold to haul 170 pounds of child, trailer, water, food, hammock, toys, tools, batteries, assist motor, and excessively stout bike 48 miles (with hills near the turnaround) in 3 hours, with ample time to smell the llamas and to fix a flat (drat!) and rotate the tires while I was at it. I used 720 watt-hours of assistance.

We stopped to look at alpacas and sheep along the way:
hirsute ruminants
hirsute ruminants

7 thoughts on “Map coolness, and hirsute ruminants”

  • Me


    Great program… thanks for the heads up on it. Beautiful pics, your son is a handsome devil and really enjoying the blog…

    -Me (Large Fella)

  • George

    Wow, cool pics.

    Just started reading your blog a few days ago-good stuff.

  • chad

    This furthers my suspicions that google maps will only become more and more powerful and relevant.

    What I’d like to see (perhaps it possible to do through the api, perhaps you’d need to be google to do it) is a modified version of the map data with emphasis on one’s transportation mode of choice.

    The obvious example applies to ideal routes for bikes being different than ideal routes for cars or pedestrians (think SFBC’s hill-sensitive map of San Fran) but the idea could extend to integrating locally relevant data – directing drivers to parking garages and then along safe pedestrian streets to the restaurant/concert hall/whatever.

  • Todd

    It seems to me, Chad, that directing non-drivers through mapscapes composed chiefly of speed-engineered roadways could best be realized by means of user-submitted data overlays, rather than analysis of the (inevitably driver-biased) base data. Some mechanism for users, advocacy groups etc. to submit best routes, or whole networks of good routes, to Google, would let the software make composite route suggestions.

    I’m thinking that vast tracts of America would yield bupkiss for good pedestrian throughways, at least for a long, long time.

  • Longhorn

    Try Google Earth ( It’s a free download and gives you elevations and a measurement tool similar to the site above. You can even “tilt” the satellite image up to 90 degrees to view the elevations from the side.

  • Wyatt

    Here’s something that’s in the works locally. It’s a route finder aimed at cyclists that we hope will also be useful for walkers. All comments/suggestions are welcome. One of the things we are planning to do is something like Todd suggested–having users submit the best routes or streets they know of in their area.

  • [...] Bikely is a bicycle route sharing tool worth bookmarking. This is pretty much what I envisioned happening a year ago after I stumbled upon Gmaps Pedometer. [...]

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