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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What do "direct route," "safe route," and "safer route," actually mean?

    Most routing applications choose the best route based on the distance or time required from start to finish. Ride the City does the same thing, except we factor in street segments with bike facilities. Ride the City considers streets with bike lanes to be shorter than they actually are. This is slightly exaggerated on the "safe route" and more exaggerated on the "safer route." The result is that the "safer route" will direct you out of your way to the nearest greenway, bike lane, or street segment that users have suggested to us. The "direct route" is exactly that -- the shortest route we can find. Please use special caution when riding the most direct route, as Ride the City no effort to use bike lanes or greenways or to steer you clear of busy streets that may have lots of traffic.

  • What does the "caution" sign mean?

    These are street segments that we (or other cyclists) feel warrant extra caution when riding. For NYC, check out Transportation Alternatives' excellent CrashStat website for a sobering look at the most dangerous streets and intersections.

  • Does Ride the City direct cyclists to go against the flow of traffic (i.e. the wrong way) on one-way streets?

    No, it doesn't. If you notice an error, please let us know via the "rate the route" form.

  • Ride the City doesn't recognize my address. Why not, and what can I do about it?

    First, make sure you enter the city name (or in NYC, the borough) along with your street address. Sometimes Ride the City can guess this from the context, but not always. If your trouble persists, please let us know via the feedback form.

  • I know a better/safer/faster route than the one(s) Ride the City suggested. How can I tell you about it?

    Unpublished

    There are a couple ways to improve the routing at Ride the City. You can let us know so that we can make any changes or you can do it yourself.

    1) Once you generate a route, you can send us feedback directly by choosing the 'route options' dropdown to select the 'rate the route' link to submit your route suggestions, comments, or feedback. See the image below.

    2) Another option is to go into the base data on your own and make the changes yourself. As you recall, Ride the City gets its data from Open Street Map, the wikipedia-like mapping project. You can right click anywhere on the map and Ride the City will give you the option to 'edit map in OSM'. If you select that, you'll be taken to Open Street Map's default editor, Potlatch, where you can add tags to show that a street has a bike lane or to make a bike path. Here's a video that we put together to show how Ride the City and Open Street Map work together: youtube. If you go into Open Street Map to add tags to a street, here are the main tags for bicycle facilities and a what they translate to in Ride the City.

    Your input helps Ride the City to evolve into a better service for everyone. We appreciate your help.

  • Why do the routes that Ride the City generates involve so many steps?

    Ride the City generates routes with a larger-than-expected number of steps for a few reasons:

    1. Safer bike routes tend to be longer routes as Ride the City tries to steer riders toward greenways, bike lanes, and other quiet streets. Those extra blocks can mean a few extra steps.
    2. Ride the City generates an additional step each time a bike lane begins or ends on a street. For example, if a route includes a street that has no bike lane for 4 blocks, a bike lane for 12 blocks, and then no bike lane for 2 blocks, Ride the City shows three steps.
    3. Ride the City also generates steps when the name of a street changes. For example, a route on West 10th Street that crosses Fifth Avenue will add a step because the street's name changes to East 10th Street.
    4. Incorrect street data can lead to extraneous steps. Our initial data set was inconsistent in its use of abbreviations and street numbers. That means a route might have three steps on "5 Ave," "5 Av," and "5th Ave" that all describe the same street. Please let us know when you notice this and we'll fix it.
  • How can I use Ride the City to provide cycling directions to my business or event?

    To make it easy for people to ride their bikes to your business, we can create a link for you with a predetermined destination. To get directions to your store, users only need to enter their starting location. Check out the example below.

    If you'd like to do this, simply submit the business/event directions request form, and we'll email you a link.

  • How do I email a bike route to one of my friends?

    Once you've generated a route, click on "copy link to email" under the route options menu. Copy the URL (web address) and paste it into an email.

  • Can you bring Ride the City to my town?

    We're working on rolling out Ride the City to other cities as fast as we can. If you're interested, please contact us at info [at] ridethecity [dot] com.

  • Is there a mobile version of Ride the City? Can I get directions via text messages?

    Yes, there are apps for iPhone and Android that work in all of the cities where we've rolled out Ride the City. If you have a mobile device, you should be directed to the mobile version of the site when you visit on your mobile browser.

  • Can I embed Ride the City in my own website?

    Yes, you can embed Ride the City easily. In the tools menu, select "embed RTC in your website." This will activate a pop-up window with html to copy and paste into your website. You can control the width, height, and frame style.

    To see how Ride the City appears when embedded in another website, check out biking rules.

  • How do I get started?

    To find a safe bike route, enter a starting address and an ending address and click "go."

    If you want Ride the City to always begin in your preferred city, sign in to set up your own user account. It's simple and free, and allows you to customize your own mapping preferences. That means you won't have to click the "go" button (the route will generate automatically), and you can direct Ride the City to always avoid certain roads. To set up an account now, go to user account.

  • How can I save a route?

    It's easy to save a route. Just create an account (it's simple and free), sign in, and then generate a route. To save it, choose the "save the route" option from the route options dropdown or select "save route" at the bottom of the text directions (see circled text in lower left corner, below).

  • How can I find bike shops along my route?

    Ride the City provides bike shop information so you can easily find a place to fix a flat tire, pick up spare parts, or rent a bike for a friend. When you zoom in on the map, click on the gear icon to have the bike shop’s information displayed in a pop-up.

    We’ve tried to make sure that bike shop information at Ride the City is accurate. In fact, we called every bike shop to confirm it. If you know of a bike shop that we're missing, please let us know by using this form: Add or update bike shop information.

  • Where does the elevation data come from?

    Ride the City uses multiple data sets for elevation. Most of the data comes from the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) National Elevation Dataset (NED), providing elevations at a resolution of 1/3 arc-second, or about 10 meters (i.e. elevation values can change every 30 feet).

  • I prefer some streets over others. Can I save my preferences?

    Yes, Ride the City allows you to save your preferred street segments to your user profile. First, log in to Ride the City and run a route. Then select any street segment along that route and rate it. For example, if Ride the City routes you down a street that you always avoid, give that street a low rating. In the future, Ride the City will be less likely to route you down that street. The more streets you rate, the more Ride the City will reflect your own preferences. Once you log in, here's how you can rate a street segment:

  • How can I suggest a better route?

    There are a couple ways to improve the routing at Ride the City. You can let us know so that we can make any changes or you can do it yourself.

    1) The first option is just to let us know. Once you generate a route, you can send us feedback directly by choosing the 'route options' dropdown to select the 'rate the route' link to submit your route suggestions, comments, or feedback. See the image below.

    We review your comments and change the relative ratings of the streets when appropriate.

    2) Another option is to go into the base data on your own and make the changes yourself. As you recall, Ride the City gets its data from Open Street Map, the wikipedia-like mapping project. You can right click anywhere on the map and Ride the City will give you the option to 'edit map in OSM'. If you select that, you'll be taken to Open Street Map's default editor, Potlatch, where you can add tags to show that a street has a bike lane or to make a bike path. Here's a video that we put together to show how Ride the City and Open Street Map work together, and how to add a tag: youtube. If you go into Open Street Map to add tags to a street, here are the main tags for bicycle facilities that we use and what they translate to in Ride the City.

    Your input helps Ride the City to evolve into a better service for everyone. We appreciate your help.