Editor’s note: With the discussion of the proposed segregated Laurier bike lane in the news, the problem of how to get around Ottawa safely by bicycle is once again under discussion. Solutions coming from the cyclist community itself are also gaining recognition; last summer we posted on Ottawa Biking Problems, a project by Alex De Vries to map out Ottawa’s most dangerous biking hazards. In December, Spacing Ottawa’s Heather Yundt proposed using the SMS-based Ushahidi system to note the location of cycling risks such as dangerous potholes. The latest “safer cycling” initiative is a mapping tool developed by Jamie Stuckless and Adam Stuckley. Below is Jamie’s introduction to it.
I want to tell Spacing Ottawa readers about a recently-developed website called Rate Your Route Ottawa (ryrottawa.com). Using this tool, residents can rate the bike friendliness of each of Ottawa’s streets by answering a few short questions. Using these responses, streets are rated between 1 and 5, and appear on the map in different colours based on their rating. Traditional cycling maps show cyclists where bike lanes and routes are located, but there isn’t always a bike lane to get you to where you want to go. In these instances, cyclists need to know what other roads are safe and convenient. “Rate Your Route” allows users to see the roads along their way that have been recommended (or not) by other cyclists. This website also has a “route finding” function that will show users the shortest route between their origin and destination that uses the highest rated streets in terms of bikeability (this function will become more useful as more route ratings are provided).
Co-developer Adam Drackley and I hope that this website can serve as a place for residents to share information and knowledge about cycling around Ottawa – but we need to get the word out there and have more people try it out. We are seeking users to provide us with more route ratings and feedback. We have also entered this website in the Apps4Ottawa contest. If users like this website, they can vote for it at http://www.apps4ottawa.ca/en anytime before Friday, January 28.
The instructions for use can be found on the website – first time users are encouraged to read through all of the instructional postcards at the beginning. As a special note: route ratings will not appear instantly after you have submitted your rating. The information gets submitted to a database and we upload this information onto the map regularly.