Back in December 2007, before we launched Ride the City it was no piece of cake to get data from the City. For the bike route data, for example, we first had to track down which agency maintained the data. You'd think it'd be in the hands of the Department of Transportation (DOT) but actually at the time it was at the Department of City Planning. When we figured that out, we had to make a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request to City Planning because although the data was public, it wasn't freely accessible. We made the official FOIL request, then after some back/forth with City Planning, and a couple months, we got the data that allowed us to begin to work on Ride the City. By the way, City Planning was always incredibly helpful and the experience was quite pleasant. Nevertheless, getting public data just a few years ago was a pain in the neck. Fortunately, that's changing.
Just this week, NYCDOT added NYC bike route data to its data feeds. Now anyone with an Internet connection can get the free public data quickly. The data includes the type of bike facility that each line segment represents, and also whether it has certain car-free hours, is an on- or off-street bike facility, and comments with descriptive information (i.e. walk your bike). The included metadata also include a suggested symbology (e.g. green lines for separated Class I bike routes; red lines for Class II routes, etc).