By Alex Goldmark
The screen grab below shows the view for the small city of Eindhoven in southern Netherlands. A smattering of bike path still photos are strewn about the map of the city. Click on one of the tiles to see what it is like--from the perspective of a cyclist--to ride in a number of the city's calm, well-paved bike paths.
What's impressive, and most potentially useful about Cyclodeo, is that each section of the video is geocoded to match the map. That red line is a bike path. Click anywhere on the line to see the frame of the video that corresponds to what that exact part of the path looks like. The site also calculates the distance of that ride and the average speed. It adds up to a pretty solid picture of what a bike trip will be like, all available before you leave the house.
"In the very near future close to 100 kilometers of videotaped cycling rides from Copenhagen will be released," Cyclodeo founder Samir Bendida says. He tells us the company's bike path mapping is expanding to other cities soon after. "This will allow comparison of cycling infrastructure from different cities which could hopefully inspire city planners to improve their own network for cyclists."
There is already a NYC map posted with a few sample test rides that hint at this use.
Some streets just aren't pleasant rides in Manhattan. Seeing which ones have better bike lanes might help guide a route, or let a cyclist know the safest way home.
Google Street view is certainly a more comprehensive tool with endless panoramas of static images, but as the short sample New York rides show, a nice urban bike ride is not just about what stripes line the road, but how the lane is respected by cars. A video in this case really is worth a 1,000 pictures when it comes to conveying what it's like to ride on a given street.
Pairing video to a map is a clever use of a new technology even if the sheer immensity of videotaping every bike path in a major city seems prohibitive and potentially an obstacle to turning these sample maps into fully populated cycling tools.
In the meantime though, fans of urban cycling might just enjoy seeing what a ride is like in other cities. Here is Copenhagen during rush hour--set to opera for some reason--hectic, safe, and because of the soundtrack, a tad heroic.
Copyright 2013 by Fast Company. Reprinted with permission.