CycleStreets Brings Bicycle Journey Planning to the UK

Phil Leggetter
Oct. 18 2010, 03:30PM EDT

Cycling in the UK is not only a popular past time but and also a real commuting choice. The UK has numerous defined cycle routes and many towns and cities have designated cycling lanes and more recently London introduced a cycling scheme fondly referred to as Boris' Bikes after the current Mayor of London. Since more and more people are using a bicycle as a preferred method of transport, and with cyclists having a different selection of routes, on top of the ordinary street network, than alternative transportation methods, it makes sense for there to be a need for a bicycle journey planning web application and API.

The CycleStreets (CycleStreets API profile) website about page explains the basic premise and the target user:

CycleStreets is a UK-wide cycle journey planner system, which lets you plan routes from A to B by bike. It is designed by cyclists, for cyclists, and caters for the needs of both confident and less confident cyclists.

The CycleStreets system is based on a Journey Planner and Photomap launched by Cambridge Cycling Campaign in June 2006 and is currently in beta. The web application uses map data from OpenStreetMap and tile rendering and tile serving from OpenCycleMap. The Photomap functionality lets users view and add cycling-related photos. These can then be categorising and placed in gallaries. The hope is that this will add value to the service and be useful in influencing decision-makers. The Journey Planner allows the user to plan routes, see photographs of locations on the journey and choose the fastest, quietest or most direct route. CycleStreets Web Application

I got in touch with Martin Lucas-Smith, a developer on CycleStreets, to find out a bit more about the CycleStreets API:

The API which powers the CycleStreets website is now available for mobile and potentially other uses. Its main feature is the journey planner, enabling cycle journeys to be planned upto 160km long. We're particularly keen to see it used in Android apps and on other mobile platforms, and for people to find innovative uses for the Photomap! So if you have something related to cycling in the UK, do consider using our API to extend your app's functionality!

The API is used directly by the CycleStreets web application, the CycleStreets for iPhone, the Bike Hub Cycle Journey Planner app, London Bike App, London Cycle App and the list keeps on growing.

Lucas-Smith is keen to try and get others involved in CycleStreets and plans to open source the code too:

People are able to get involved with CycleStreets in a variety of ways - see www.cyclestreets.net/getinvolved . We'd particularly welcome any help with coding of the core CycleStreets code, with donations or help with fundraising! As an example I've nominated Simon, our lead developer, as a digital hero in an effort to get funding.

We are going to continue to see the digital enabling of recreational activities, such as cycling, by more APIs like CycleStreets and it's exciting to wait and see what will appear next.

Phil Leggetter Developer Evangelist at Pusher, Real-Time Web Software & Technology Evangelist, team leader, product developer, micropreneur, managing director of a real-time web and social media software company, blogger and twitter user (@leggetter).

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