Saturday, 1 August 2020

Melbourne Bike Grid Map

Summary: Google Maps bicycling layer is an excellent, cycling infrastructure tool for urban cyclists but actual cycling experience is needed to identify the preferred complete routes, shortcuts and cycling-specific destinations. Hence, I've created a Melbourne Bike Grid Map to collate these Melbourne insights. I continually update the key routes, destinations and info of most relevance to Melbourne cyclists. This post will explain how to use the custom map and provide answers to common queries.

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How do I contact you and what can I contact you about?

Contact Adrian Lobo at loboadrian AT

Please do not contact me with any commercial queries or projects. Please do contact me if able to help make the cycling network map more extensive, accurate or useful in the local areas you know well.

What type of infrastructure are the Off-road Trails/Paths in Melbourne and Victoria?

They are almost all Shared Paths: generally paved paths for use by cyclists and pedestrians - with pedestrians defined as including wheelchairs, mobility scooters and all wheeled recreational devices (skateboards, rollerblades, push scooters.)

Please give way to and take care around pedestrians and more vulnerable users (using bell or voice when passing). These shared paths are not intended for going as fast as you can (especially over 30km/hr) when there are other users travelling much slower.

Can this map be used for walking or other human-scale transport?

Yes, but typically only the Off-road network is useful as these are the Shared Paths typically following waterways, railway lines or through parks or green space.

Walkers, especially dog or bush walkers, will find Google Maps Bicycling layer useful for finding additional Trails adjacent to the major trails mapped here (particularly the unpaved trails with dashed green or brown lines).

How does this map compare to Google Maps Bicycling Layer and Cycling Directions?

The Bicycling Layer aims to include every "bike lane" (whether in a door zone, shared with parked cars, very narrow, alongside fast traffic), every street marked "Bicycle Friendly" in a bureaucrat's imagination, and every shared path no matter how trivial or useless. Meanwhile it has various gaps and errors and does not minimise redundancy or optimise usefulness.

Consequently, Google Maps' Cycling Directions very rarely show the best routes.

For example, below is the Google Maps Bicycling Layer for Melbourne - a dense mash of hard-to-differentiate green lines with best routes always requiring manual investigation.

By comparison, here are the Off-road routes from the Melbourne Bike Grid Map - it's much easier to find useful routes, and, if you know the name of the route you are trying to follow, you can just select it from the A-Z menu.

Melbourne Bike Grid Map - Off-road routes only

And here is the On-road network from the Melbourne Bike Grid Map. The redundancy is stripped out, and only the most preferred, connected and useful streets are included.

The On-road network is only 20% complete as it takes a lot of local experience and time to make these selections properly.

Melbourne Bike Grid Map - On-road routes only

What do the different coloured lines represent?

The On-road network uses:
- Aqua blue lines to show preferred routes
- Brown lines to show some necessary but not preferred routes

"Preferred" is relative to the area. So in the inner-north of Melbourne there are many streets not included in the map that are perfectly suitable for cycling. But in outer suburban areas most arterial or useful roads may be bike-unfriendly so "preferred" just means the best available to traverse an area.

The Off-road network uses a variety of colours:
- Various colours (excluding Aqua and Brown) are currently used to differentiate distinct routes
- Dodger Blue is the default colour used by Google Maps when creating routes. I use it for short off-road paths and connectors; typically they have no formal path/trail name.

To be continued...


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