An iPhone app is not a substitute for a paper map*, good signage on your bikeway network, or someone just telling you, “Turn right on Church, right on Chambers, left on Reade” to get to the bike shop where you left your water bottle.
At the bike shop I asked about how to get to the Williamsburg bridge so I could go “home” to Brooklyn. After looking at the map, he said, “Oh, take Grand.” -He then told me how to get to Grand.
The Williamsburg bridge. I took this one even though the Manhattan bridge was probably closer to my “home” because I hadn’t yet ridden on it!
I did. It worked. It was excellent. I even passed by the Doughnut Plant (which I had forgotten about visiting).
Doughnut Plant makes really tasty donuts. I wouldn’t get them too often, though, because each one costs $3.
Not only did I receive a “tried and true” route suggestion, I got it faster than any automated route devising device would have generated one.
Each month I’m asked by people how to get somewhere in Chicago. We have so many resources these days but we often still rely on the spoken interaction to get us to our destination.
*I’ve read or heard people suggest that “someone should make” an app that puts the bike map on their smartphone. I don’t think this app would be very useful or easy to use. But a paper map is both – and almost always free.
About Steven Can Plan
I started this blog in 2007 as the writing assignment for an introductory urban planning class at UIC. It's about cities (mainly Chicago), GIS oftentimes, and transportation (mainly bicycling). Learn more about me, Steven Vance. I also write for Streetsblog Chicago.
Steven Can Plan is hosted on Dreamhost.
Chicago Bike Map App
The Chicago Bike Map app is a bike and street map stored entirely in your iOS device – no data connection required. The map is designed to look much like the City of Chicago's official printed and online bike map. The app works on iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.
Highly Recommended Bike Products
I've used this pannier to carry groceries, books, my laptop, clothing, anything. I like it because it's stylish (but also "normal" looking at the same time), stands up on its own, is extremely durable, and has the most universal attachment system: two hooks.
The best value taillight. It has three red LEDs that alternate and provide extreme brightness. I have two of these.
These folding locks are lighter weight and more versatile than an equally strong u-lock.
Instant City: Life and Death in Karachi by Steve Inskeep
I reviewed this book that the publisher sent to me.
Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us) by Tom Vanderbilt
As someone who doesn't like driving, but believes that cars can be efficient in moving groups of people and goods, this is my favorite book.
The Practice of Local Government Planning (Municipal Management Series) by
You could basically design and administer a new town kind of effectively after reading this huge and boring textbook.
Making Maps: A Visual Guide to Map Design for GIS by John Krygier PhD, Denis Wood PhD
If you are going to make a map, whether it be hand drawn or digital, you should really give this book a read. Then read it every time you make a map. It will help make sure your maps are laid out sensibly, in a way that others can easily read, and that it doesn't include fluff or unnecessary data.