New York Times Article

In a well rounded article posted on April 4th, New York Times writer Matt Furber highly recommends seeing Portland by bike, and mentions the byCycle Trip Planner as a useful tool for newcomers.

The article has brought an increase in our most commonly asked question: “How can I get this in my city?

We have put together a simple FAQ addressing this topic.

1. What do I need to do to get started?
Two things: Data and Money.

2. How much does it cost?

We estimate it would cost $10,000-$20,000 to get a city started. This does not include hosting or special application features.

3. What kind of data do I need, and where can I get it?
The data you need must have specific information about biking streets.

4. Can we hire byCycle to integrate our city into the Trip Planner?
We are available on a limited basis. If you are very serious about integrating your city we may be able to help you. Before inquiring, we recommend researching the data available in your city, and locating a viable source of funding.

5. I have some data, some funding, and I’m very serious. How can I get my city plugged in?

It is our long term goal to see many cities available for trip planning using the byCycle Trip Planner. Although our time is limited, we are glad to begin communication with serious parties regarding data integration.

In the event that we are unavailable, it is worth noting that the byCycle Trip Planner is now open source. See here and here for more information about working on this open source project. We are available for a minimal amount of consulting for people interested in using the open source code.

6. Do you plan to add any other features to the Trip Planner?

We stopped working on the Trip Planner about two years ago when our developer got a full time job. At this time, we don’t have plans to make any major changes to the Trip Planner, but would consider it if funding was available. The byCycle Trip Planner is open source, so enthusiasts are welcome to make additions to this community project.

We won an Alice Award!

Last Saturday Wyatt won an Alice Award for his work on the byCycle Trip Planner. Alice Awards, given out by the BTA each year, are intended to recognize “individuals, businesses, and organizations in Oregon and SW Washington whose work has promoted the use of bicycles and increased the livability of our communities.” (from BTA website) Five awards are given out each year. Other Alice awardees included the mayor of Salem for building Salem’s first pedestrian and bike bridge, Trimet’s Rose Quarter Transit Center Bike Lane Team, Officer Robert Pickett, and Shane Rhodes for his work with Safe Routes To School in Eugene and “Kiddical Mass”.

Wyatt was pleased to accept this award on behalf of the byCycle team. We would like to extend a special thank you to the following people who helped make Trip Planner possible:

Mark Bosworth and Metro for donating the map data and site hosting
Jack Newlevant for making Metro’s map data usable for bike routing
Wyatt’s parents for their general supportiveness

Thank you as well for the donations received from users, friend, and family over the years to help keep this community tool alive.

Though Wyatt declined the opportunity to give a speech, he said when he stood to receive the award it was exhilarating to see so much genuine enthusiasm in the audience over the Trip Planner. Winning the Alice Award has inspired us to make some simple changes to the site in our spare time. Expect to see more regular blog posts and some general cleaning up.

Jonathan at gives a more detailed account of the Alice Awards here.

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.

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.

Trevor in Austin

As you may have noticed from a previous post, Trevor is in Austin working with various people to try and get Austin integrated into the bicycle route finder. We met him some time last year (at Vita Cafe on NE Alberta) after he contacted us about the idea of bringing the trip planner with him when he moved back to Austin. He is going to be blogging about the proceedings here, so “stay tuned.”