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Mapzen: A Community Mapping Tool

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During the summer we blogged about the nice maps by Cloudmade that make up the background for Ride the City (here's that blog post). Since then, Cloudmade has developed a great new mapping tool to make for easier mapping. It's called Mapzen: a tool by Cloudmade that helps anyone contribute to the free & volunteer effort to map the whole planet, including your street and favorite places. To access Mapzen, you need an Open Street Map user account, then simply log on and edit the map. Here's a screen shot from Hunts Point, Bronx, where I used to work.

New Feature: Customize Your Routes!

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Since some of you might not have been riding your bikes over the holidays, you may have missed a new feature that allows you to customize your routes. Now you can rate any street segment along your route so that it incorporates your local knowledge that is sometimes better and than any official map.

Here's how it works. First, log in to Ride the City and generate a route. (If you don't have a user profile yet, just click the register/login button on the top right of the screen and follow the steps.) Next, click on any street segment along the colored route and rate it from 1 (always avoid) to 7 (always very safe). Click save and you're done.

Here are a few reasons you may want to customize streets:

  • There's a construction project on a street with a bike lane, and the work's gonna have the street in mess for a long while (Rate it: 2 - Usually avoid)
  • You know of a few streets that have precious views and are usually car free, although they don't have bike lanes (Rate it: 6 - Usually very safe)
  • You've had wild dogs chase you on a particular street on more than one occasion (Rate it: 1 - Always avoid)
  • Your route takes you by your ex-boyfriend's place and you don't want to run into him (Rate it: 1 - Always avoid)

Here's how the steps appear on your screen:

The more streets you rate, the more Ride the City will reflect your own preferences.

To read about other features, check out our FAQs.

Save Your Route(s)

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In case you've just recently come to our site, we've developed some new features as part this newest version of Ride the City, which we blogged about earlier and launched late last year. Let me tell you about one of the new items that make Ride the City a bit better: Now you can save your routes as favorites. It's easy. Here's how it works.

First you have to sign on as a user; it's simple and free and necessary for you to be able to have access to unique customization of your bike routes. (To create a user, just click the register/login button on the top right of the screen and follow the steps.) Once you've done that, just generate a route and save it. Then, whenever you want to access the same route, go to my account and select my favorite routes: See below:

People Powered Movement Photo Contest

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Autumn Radle (Oklahoma City, OK)
I was paging through the recent edition of Bicycle Times and came across an ad by the Alliance for Biking and Walking. They're holding a People Powered Movement Photo Contest. The deadline's past, but it's time for the public to rise up to vote for the best pics - online voting is open through December 31st. You can shape the results for who wins the 10-day Tuscan VBT bike tour.

The photos are helping to build the Alliance's photo library, a free resource for members (free membership). Members can submit and download photos. Image categories include Advocates in Action, Biking, Biking and Walking, Complete Streets, Infrastructure, Inspirational (like this one on the left), Walking, and Youth. Nice resource.

NYC Pedicabs - Get your license!

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Photo by David W. Dunlap, NYTimes

Getting around by bike in NYC just got safer, especially for those riding in a pedicab. As of 12:01 AM last night (Saturday morning), new regulations went into effect that require all operators of pedicabs to have a registration plate in NYC. According to the New York Times article, Regulated, Inspected and Licensed, by Michael Grynbaum, the latest numbers tally 844 licensed individual pedicabs from 150 different businesses.

Biking Rules PSA Film Festival

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The Biking Rules PSA Film Festival on Tuesday night was outrageous fun. The Festival, organized by Transportation Alternatives, premiered submissions from their image and video competitions. There were two categories in which images and videos could compete:
Category 1: The Biking Rules Street Code, including:

Monthly bike swap? (NYC vs Austin)

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Back in September we blogged about NYC's annual bike swap, the NY Bike Jumble. Well, as you'd probably guess Austin has it's own version called Frankenbike that takes place every month. Repeat: every month. (This month's event is sponsored by Mellow Johnny's, that's Lance's bike shop.)

Ok, I know Austin's a huge cycling town and all but NYC is the biggest city in the US with a population of more than 8 million, compared with Austin's 800,000. We're ten times larger, carrying an extra 7+ million people... you'd think we could support a bike swap at least once a month.

Trash Cans for Bicyclists

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angled trash can

When I was in Italy last, I loved being able to get a cappuchino anywhere, even at the gas station--good coffee is just part of who they are.

Well, similarly you know you're in a biking town when see garbage bins for bicycles: litter baskets turned to face you at an angle so you can toss your garbage into them while cruising around on a bike.

According to Copenhagenize, the City is testing these prototypes right now.

Ride the City - San Diego

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Ride the City San DiegoHappy Columbus Day. It's nice to have the day off to think about how the world has changed since Chris and his peeps stumbled upon the Americas. Now we have roads and bikes, so we don't need horses. It's great. But it's more than just a holiday in San Diego because today we're officially observing the discovery of Ride the City - San Diego! This is our largest geographic area yet, including all of San Diego County. You can use Ride the City, for example, to get bicycling directions for a point just south of San Clemente to the Mexican border, about 80 miles.

During early testing, lots of users told us we needed to do something to incorporate elevation data because of San Diego's hills and canyons. Well now we do it. In addition to finding safe bike routes, Ride the City now attempts to steer you away from grueling climbs (at least when there is a less steep alternate route that doesn't add too much distance).


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There's a lot happening this week for bicycling and pedestrians as NYC hosts the 10th annual international conference that promotes walkable communities: Walk21. The conference is being hosted by the New York City Department of Transportation in collaboration with NYU and takes place from Wednesday to Friday. In addition to seminars on walkability, sustainability, safety, complete streets, and the environment, there are some bicycle-related seminars and workshops:

Wednesday, October 7th 2:00-5:00pm
NYC Bicycle and Pedestrian Programs: If you can do it here, can you do it anywhere?

Friday, October 9th 2:00-5:00pm
A Bicycling Culture: The ABC’s of bicycle parking, transiting and sharing

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