Saturday, October 25, 2008

Gluttons for Punishment?

I was pretty excited about a new mashup of Google Maps, called Route You. In their own words:
We produce and translate raw route-information towards digital structured data.
We also create route-networks for GPS navigation systems. Our focus is mainly outdoor navigation for tourists, hikers, cyclists and motorbikers. During the outdoor activity, the user wants to be navigated via the most suitable and relaxing route, rather than the shortest or fastest.

We produce these kind of routes and route-networks which allow route-planning and turn-by-turn navigation for cyclists, hikers, citytrippers, motorbikers...
Ok, so the cool aspect of the site is that it would give routes that were custom catered to non-automobiles: walking, bikes, and scooters. Great! Just what I was looking for to avoid those freeway-addicted Google Maps. Easy enough: signed up, headed over, indicated I was looking for the fastest route via bike, plotted my start point and my finish point, and voila: a perfect, bike-friendly route. Right? RIGHT?

Um, No.

While the route they produced did have a big plus, in that it showed an elevation chart for the ride, it completely failed on the core competency of navigating: it directed me to a freeway. Now, I know: the site is free, and you get what you pay for, but this is utter foolishness: you specifically set yourself up as a site that is providing non-auto related directions, and you include freeway navigation? Fail.

To be fair, if I wanted to plot the whole route out, waypoint by waypoint, I could have, and it would have been very accuate. For that, however, there is another option: MapMyRide, formerly RouteSlip. Although the site has more advertising on it than a NASCAR entry, it offers a ton more in the way of calculation and automatic work. Want to figure out how many calories you burn on your ride? Done. Need to see the local bike shops on your route, in case you need supplies. Boom. Want your iPhone to automatically log your rides and send the stats to the website? Got it. They even offer training programs, and suggested rides, based on your workouts. Now THAT is a bike-friendly site.

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