Lines as Long as You Like

Today, inspired by a recent donation*, I finally got around to speeding up the display of long route lines (i.e., the line marking a route on the trip planner map). Previously, long route lines would take a long time to show up, and when a line was too long, it just wouldn’t show up at all, possibly crashing the user’s browser. Obviously not

What happened was, I got notification of a donation and saw that the person making the donation lives in Beaverton. I tried getting a route from Beaverton to downtown Portland, but the route never came up because the line was too long. I felt bad that someone had made a donation but might not even be able to get directions over a relatively short distance, so I got to work on fixing the

So, skipping over the technical aspects, I’ll just say that now it should be possible to get a route of just about any length. It still takes a while to generate a really long route, but once the route info gets back to the user’s browser, the line drawing is almost instantaneous. Even for short routes there’s a noticeable speedup.

This has been bugging me for a long time, so I’m glad it’s finally fixed. As usual, if you notice any problems, please let us know.

* Big thanks to Rebecca in Beaverton.

New Version of Trip Planner Launched

Last week we launched a new version of the trip planner. On the surface, it doesn’t look much different from the previous version, but “under the hood”* it has changed significantly. Moving forward, it should be easier for us to add new features and fix any issues that come up (and issues are sure to come up, as you may have noticed already)

We’d love to hear your feedback on any aspect of the trip planner–what features we should add, what doesn’t work for you, etc. Please keep in mind though that the trip planner is a complicated beast and we have very limited resources with which to make improvements.

That brings me to the next topic, which is byCycle’s financial status. Since the start of the year, we have only generated $151.60 in revenue. At this rate, byCycle is not going to be “in business” much longer. We are looking into ways to remedy this situation. In the meantime, we could sure use some community support. Please consider making a donation or buying something from our online store.

In the next edition (coming soon), I’m going to write about the latest developments in our relationship with Metro**–stay tuned!


* Ironic, I know. I would like to say “under the [part of the bike that contains all the complicated and mysterious machinery]” but most everything on a bike is out in the open or available for relatively easy inspection.

** Metro is the Portland area’s regional government.

byCycle Store

byCycle now has a store! All proceeds go to support byCycle’s projects.

We went with a CafePress store because of it’s simplicity. It was easy to set up, and allows us to create and sell things on demand. It also makes it easier for you to buy things.

Everything is priced at five dollars over what CafePress charges us.

byCycle Shirt


Check out the store »

Pittsburgh Removed From Trip Planner

After months of deliberation, we finally decided to go ahead and remove the Pittsburgh region from the trip planner (and, poof, it’s gone). The immediate trigger for the removal was a forwarded email that contained, amongst other things, the following: “Being from Pittsburgh, I chose Pittsburgh. I couldn’t get anything to work.” Ouch.

Here’s the (heavily condensed) story behind the Pittsburgh trip planner. At the end of 2005 we were contacted by someone in Pittsburgh who was interested in integrating the area into the trip planner. She had a plan to get a grant from a local organization to support her work. She eventually got the grant and worked for several months to get the region online.

Unfortunately, for various technical and other reasons, the Pittsburgh version was never quite “up to snuff” (as they say). It was never supported by any Pittsburgh-local organizations, and after the initial integration, the person who did the integration moved to another city and hasn’t worked on it since.

Most of the feedback we have gotten from people in Pittsburgh has been negative–addresses not found, routes on the highway, etc.

We have never had the resources to work on the Pittsburgh version ourselves and have been hoping that a Pittsburgh bike organization (or some individual) would step up to the task, especially given that a proof-of-concept version had been created and, in all likelihood, just needed a bit of ongoing love and attention.

Many times we’ve discussed whether we should remove the Pittsburgh region. On the plus side, we had something that worked and that someone could work from to create something better. On the minus side, it was unsupported, didn’t work well, and was reflecting poorly on us. (Please note that I’m not saying the other regions are perfect, but they are at least nominally supported by local organizations.)

If you or someone you know or some group is interested in working on and supporting the Pittsburgh trip planner, please get in touch.

Trip Planner Updates 1/25

We hadn’t touched the online version of the trip planner in months, since we’ve been working on a new (imporoved!) version. In the last week or so, though, I got sick of looking at the old design and decided to make a few changes.

This wasn’t a complete overhaul, as we are focusing our efforts on the upcoming version, but I think it’s quite a bit nicer than before. Overall, it just feels less clunky.

Under the hood, nothing has changed. For example, for the Portland region, we’re still using data from 2004 (with some updates), but that should be changing fairly soon–hopefully within the next month or so.

Please check it out and let us know what you think.

Austin By Cycle

The folks at (Wyatt and Lauren) have generously opened up the discussion for an Austin, TX, version of Austin and Portland ARE sisters, so it only makes sense.???????

While Austin is not quite as advanced as Portland is when it comes to bicycle infrastructure, it comes pretty darn close, especially considering that it’s in the middle of Texas. There are some subtle similarities and differences between the two bicycle cities :

Portland cyclists primarily ride road bikes. It’s a mountain bike for Austin cyclists. Portland cyclists, in a waterproof bubble, continue to ride diligently through the winter rains. Austin cyclists drink gallons of water to replace the gallons perspired while riding faithfully through the hot summer breeze. Portland is “the most bikeable city in America”. Austin has Lance Armstrong, the greatest cyclist ever to live. In Portland, if you ride a fixed gear bike, you are rad. In Austin, if you ride a fixed gear bike, you are a badass. In Portland, “smart lights” sense a waiting cyclist and changes the light to green. In Austin, cyclists pretend the light is green. Portland and Austin BOTH have bike racks on ALL full size city buses. Portland has an intricate network of wide and continuous bike lanes which could route a cyclist anywhere within city limits safely ( arguably ). Austin has a unique infrastructure of creekside bicycle paths which are entirely separate from the streets and route the cyclists UNDER intersections. Portland has the Spring Water Corridor. Austin WILL have the Lance Armstrong bicycle highway one day eventually. If we are lucky… Austin, like Portland, will have a version of

The Austin cycling community has expressed enthusiasm about the proposal for an interactive, user friendly, point to point, bicycle map. Let’s not let this opportunity slip past us.

Please feel free to chime in with any thoughts, ideas, or questions.

Bicycle everywhere !

– trevor ( )

Blog Announcement

We went and got ourselves a blog. Some things that we might have sent here [the announcements list] will be posted there instead. We’ll now reserve this list for major announcements. The blog will include the announcements plus other odds and ends–whatever seems at least somewhat relevant and half way

The blog is located at Our home page also shows selected items posted to the blog (ones tagged as news).

=== No need to read this line or the ones below ===

To keep track of our blog or others, you might be interested in a program known as an RSS Aggregator. Try the following search to learn more:

Speaking of blogs, how come *you* don’t have one? Blogs are an interesting way of sharing information, and there is just tons of useful bloggery out there. (All those electrons really add up.)

Blogging doesn’t replace talking (or whatever other forms of communicating people are into these days). No, I’d say it complements it, and it’s good mental exercise.

So, on the off chance that someone out there is interested, I will offer[1] to help *you* set up your very own Web hosting with a blog, or just the blog if you’ve already got a site, or *just* a blog if you don’t want a site. My guess is that no one will respond, or perhaps one person, so this is a perfectly safe offer for someone with very little free time to make.


[1] Sorry, this offer has expired ????

Announcement 0

Note: We are clearing out several items in this announcement. In the future we plan to make shorter announcements on a more regular

Table of Contents
1. New News/Announcements System
2. Trip Planner Status
3. Lloyd TMA Presentation
4. Ads

1. New News/Announcements System
Instead of maintaining our own news/announcements system (which you may have noticed we almost never used), we are now using a Google group. When we send out announcements, they will be automatically archived on the Web at

2. Trip Planner Status
We are in the midst of making a bunch of changes to the trip planner. The two things we are focusing on are 1) refining the user interface and 2) working with Metro to create a version of the Portland area trip planner that uses local map data.

For the user interface we are adding some new functionality, but mostly we are focusing on creating a consistent, uncluttered, easy-to-use application that includes inline help. There are many “behind the scenes” changes that will make the system easier to maintain and extend.

One quick note about using the trip planner: I notice that people often try to type in the names of businesses, schools, and other points of interest. For the time being, the system only understands street addresses (including intersections). You can also *use the map* to input addresses. There is more information about this that we’ve incorporated into the trip planner and also on the trip planner help page>.

Using local map data will have a number of benefits. For one thing, we will be able to show things like bike routes, light rail lines, etc. Also, we will be able to more easily track down problems since we will be able to look at the *actual* data the trip planner is using to find routes.

3. Lloyd TMA Presentation
On July 13th we did a presentation (our first!) on byCycle and the trip planner for the Lloyd District Transportation Management Association (TMA) luncheon. The Lloyd TMA is “a non-profit business association representing large and small employers in the Lloyd District.” Their Web site is at

We shared the spotlight with the Mayor’s Visioning Team. Our presentation included the history, goals, and future of byCycle; our newly revised information on integrating a region into the trip planner; and a demonstration of the trip planner.

You can view the presentation at You might have to adjust the size of the text in your browser to be able to see everything. You can also view the whole thing as a single normal Web page by moving your mouse to the lower right corner (inside the blue bar) and then clicking the Oh-with-a-slash-through-it symbol that appears.

To schedule a presentation for your organization, please contact Lauren. Her email address is

4. Ads Added
We decided to give Google Ads a try and see if we could at least make enough money to cover our Web hosting costs. So far, it looks like we will make enough to cover the costs for hosting the informational part of our site <>, but nowhere near enough to cover the costs of hosting the trip planner (or, for that matter, the costs of developing, deploying, and maintaining the trip planner).

In addition to Google Ads, we are looking into other sources of revenue. One idea we are considering is displaying ads for local businesses. We also have shirts for sale and accept donations–see for more info.

If you have any feedback regarding this announcement or about anything relating to the Web site or the trip planner, please feel free to email us at contact> (or use the feedback form on our Web site).