Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Maps and stuff

I seem to have a growing fascination for maps.  Not just old ones but even new ones.  And when setting out of a shortish ride I will often look for route suggestions on some of the free online route planners.  And once I've got an idea about the lie of the land, I then choose which way to go - because great though these tools are, they never go exactly the way I want to.

A regular favourite is cyclestreets.net.  Though it will only plan journeys up to 25 miles (or is it kilometres?) part of its charm is that it will find you three routes.  On the traffic-light plan, there's a Red route (fastest), an Amber route (''balanced'') and a Green route (quietest).  In addition, it will ask you what speed you will cycle at and then give you the time it will take for the outward journey, and if you reverse the journey, it will calculate a revised time, based on a cycling version of the walkers Naismith Rule.  Finally, it will give you an elevation profile so that you get an idea about which bits are uphill and which are downhill.

And example:  I want to go from the Creekside Centre in Creekside, SE8 to the café at the top of the hill in Greenwich Park.  So I go to their journey planner and type in Creekside.  This gives you a green marker for your start point
Now for the finish point.  Because I don't have a name for the destination, I simply click on the map in the desired place and this places the marker on that point.
So now I have a start point and an end point.  You can put the start time for your journey if you like, but you'll have to choose your speed.  Quick, cruising or unhurried.  Being only moderately enthusiastic, I will choose cruising speed.  Then click Plan this journey and give the program a couple of moments to calculate a route or three.  And this is what you end up with: the three colour-coded routes, plus an elevation profile giving the height (this view is the top of the Amber route - there are slightly different times and profiles for the other two routes.)  So, it's going to take me 12 minutes to do the 1 1/4 miles.  Below this screen image there are step-by-step map details:
How about the journey back?  Under the red ''Link with Creekside, NCN'' text, there's a return button.  This will calculate the journey back to the Creekside centre.
And, as expected, fuelled up with caffeine, the journey back will take me just 6 mins 27 seconds.

If you have GPS devices you can export the routes them and also to programs like Google Earth.  It's free and uses open source maps and is uncluttered by adverts.

However, great though this is, there's a rider: I wouldn't take any of these routes.  I'd zoom down to the bottom gate in the park, coast down King William Walk and then navigate the one-way system in Greenwich taking care not to knock tourists over who have a habit of wandering along in the middle of the street.  And the quickest route directs the cyclist through the Greenwich Industrial Estate (between Norman Road and the access road to the DLR station).  This route though, is now shut off to the public - the estate is no longer industrious.

(Also cyclestreets.net have a photomap where you can upload pictures: these can be related to nasty holes in the ground, cycling facilities, bike repair shops, signs.)  Here's one I uploaded as an example of redundant signpost frenzy:
Here, using another program, Quo v2, (free to download but you have to buy the OS maps to go with it - still cheap though) is the route I'd take, out in blue and back in green.  But I'll go into Quo in more detail in another post.
College Road

No comments: