I first discovered the New York Times article via my #BikeNYC friends, only to see that several other cities were represented (but with far less activity on the maps, presumably those other cities don’t have as many rabid NYT readers). As something to explore, the NYC map is the most interesting – so far.

NYT map

Gizmodo had a good article articulating how the project came about and comparing it to Strava, which was informational but also funny. The map invites cyclists to add ten-word blurbs to a map of the city. They range from practical advice (“Avoid Brooklyn Bridge unless it’s early or late”) to jokey (“Williamsburg Bridge is a drag strip for Category 6 racing”). You can also toggle onto a secondary mode, which pulls data from the popular GPS tracking app, Strava, to show which routes are most popular amongst users. There are already plenty of different mapping options for cyclists who need directions, but this interactive grants us access to a secondary layer of information: all of the tips and tricks that, normally, take years of experience to amass.

Awesome! But what about Los Angeles?

It exists! Along with Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Denver, Chicageo, St. Louis, Atlanta, Miami, Toronto, Boston & D.C.

NYT LA map

As the founder of L.A. Bike Trains, I’m SUPER interested in maps pertaining to cycling in Los Angeles County, not just the hot spots in downtown, Silver Lake and Santa Monica. Where there are people, there’s a need to make bicycling a pleasurable and easy to figure out experience. The very next day I came across Commuterama.com another interactive transportation map, this one dedicated to LA.

comuterama

I was bummed, however to see that it’s another driving tool, like the popular waze app that “brings 30 million drivers together.” Usually to suggest ‘off streets’ that push aggressive drivers trying to shave time off their trips onto small residential streets, where cyclist are told they belong and feel they’ll be safe because it’s clear from the traffic issues of the main avenues. Does anyone else see the inequality and potential problems from that approach?

Instead of developing alternatives to the unsustainable model of a car for everyone and every trip, why are we not pushing development of maps like the NYT biking map? If Waze was ethical, they’d keep cars off biking routes (which they don’t) and if Commuterama really wanted to make LA a better place to live, it would be a multi-modal approach that would encourage public transportation and biking alternatives. The good news is that Commuterama is looking for public feedback and because they’re supported by LADOT, they’re likely to bend to any significant response asking for things like public transit and biking features/information.

 

So drop them a line:

Feel free to share any ideas and wishes you may have about your commute by emailing ideas@commuterama.com.

 

{UPDATE: LA Bike Trains, reached out had a *great* talk with the commuterama.com team about bringing bike routes and infrastructure into what they are developing. Yeah LA!!!}

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