Sunday, November 18, 2007

Boulder: one of 11 top cycling cities in the world

Virgin Vacations lists Boulder as one of the 11 Most Bike Friendly Cities in the World. How cool is that? I already knew that the bike commuting opportunities and infrastructure in Boulder were top-class... to the point that I have a better sense of getting around Boulder on my bike than in the family car.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

City of Boulder Underworld Tour: 2007

The City of Boulder has announced its Underworld Tour: 2007.

View Larger Map

Recent discussion on my neighborhood's list server had people wondering if the underpass at 27th Way & Baseline Rd would be opened soon. I had the same question about the underpass at Foothills Parkway and Arapahoe Avenue. Maybe the city is waiting until the Underworld Tour (October 27) to officially open these underpasses?

Should be fun.

receive near real-time bike path alerts from Boulder

Some time ago I signed up for the City of Boulder bikeped-enews mailing list. I though it was a helpful way to stay in touch with bikepath goings-on. Imagine my pleasant surprise when on September 24 not too long after an early-morning deluge I received this note in my inbox...

The following multi-use paths have been temporarily closed due to water covering the path:

* Bear Creek Path at Mohawk Drive;
* Bear Creek Path at Gilpin Drive;
* 55th Street Path at Centennial Trail; and
* Goose Creek Path between Folsom and 30th streets.

These paths may reopen this afternoon, weather dependent.
How cool is that? near real-time Boulder bike path alerts sent to my inbox. I love this place! deemed a success

A press release from the City of Boulder earlier this week declared: " deemed a success". I have used the website for routing and it seems quite innovative. It is a good resource for showing information about navigating the city bike path network.

I would love to see GoBikeBoulder go the next step and integrate this great functionality into public mapping sites like Google, Yahoo or Microsoft. I had a recent discussion with Larry Ferguson at the City of Boulder GIS department and he rightly pointed out that the department has invested considerable resource (ie., time and money) to creating a topologically connected network that allows us to get proper routing information. It seems that the decision makers at the city will need to decide how/whether to release the data or create a public API that web developers can use to increase the usage of this great application.

I am a GIS professional and I understand the labour that goes into creating topologically-correct networks such as the one that GoBikeBoulder uses. It is alot of hard (yes, it can be physically hard if you are hunched over a digitizing table all day) work. I also know that in certain cases that new innovations can be spurred on if data is released to the public domain. Compare GIS innovations in USA vs. Canada where USA Census bureau decided to make their data available for free (or low cost) to the public compared to Canada where the data was licensed for higher fees. I would venture to say that the decision in the US to make data available at low cost did much to advance public GIS applications here compared to Canada.

While the site is very helpful, I personally would use it more if its functionality was integrated into the Google Maps application.

I want to congratulate the folks at GoBikeBoulder for their hard work getting this application running in time for Bike to Work Week. I might also mention that whenever I have sent comments to the staff there, they have been very responsive. I moved to Boulder this spring and am learning what a great place this is to live. Having a forward-thinking group like GoBikeBoulder makes me realize again what a great community I have joined.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Boulder Bike Paths Mapplet Accepted!!

Google has created a new feature in Google Maps called mapplets. It is still in preview, but you can see it at It looks almost the same as the regular Google Maps but it has an extra tab called Mapplets. The Google Mapplets are still in development stage and you also need a Google account to use them.

You can add your own Mapplets by clicking on the Mapplets tab and then selecting Add Content. Once the page changes to "Google Mapplets Gallery" you can add one or more mapplets to your Map content. At the top of the page you can "Search Google Map Contents". Search for "Boulder Bike" and you will see that the search result includes "Boulder Bike Paths". Add that to the map and enjoy.

Once the Mapplets hit the mainstream, though, having the Boulder Bike Paths Mapplet will allow a user to overlay the bike path network over any Google Maps search results.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Staying Hydrated

Bikeboy at The Bike Nazi blog has a great article on Hydration. This is my first year cycle-commuting pretty much full-time and now that summer is in full force here in Boulder I am aware that I need to stay hydrated.

Bikeboy has some tips on what he does to stay hydrated on his rides up in Boise. I particularly like the suggestion:

A half-hour or so before I ride, I'll consciously tank up on water (20-32 ounces).

I have always been aware of drinking water while I am riding, but the idea of tanking up before the ride is a great one.


If you get thirsty, it's too late. You have to think about drinking before you get thirsty.

Thanks Bikeboy! I love your blog!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Google Mapplets and some changes to this blog

I decommissioned my site by redirecting its home page back to I did this because of Google Mapplets.

From the Google Mapplets page:
Google Mapplets are mini-applications that you can embed within the Google Maps site. Examples include real estate search, current weather conditions, and distance measurement. Mapplets are Google Gadgets that can manipulate the map using Javascript calls that are derived from the Google Maps API.

Mapplets are currently only available in a special Developer Preview version of Google Maps at:

I created a Google Mapplet today for the Boulder Bike Paths. This is a bit cleaner than using My Maps because Google Maps will soon support Mapplet overlays while you are doing a map search. That means you can have the Boulder Bike Paths (with legend) visible on the map while you are doing a search for the location of your cycling destination. The Mapplet references my site because that is where the Mapplet XML definition file is located. But I don't want to maintain that website, so if people try to navigate to that site, they will now be automatically redirected to this blog site.

I have submitted my Boulder Bike Paths mapplet to the Google Mapplets Gallery. Until the mapplet is (hopefully) accepted by Google, you can always add it manually by:
  1. browse to
  2. click on the Mapplets tab
  3. click on Add content
  4. Towards the top of the Google Mapplets Gallery page, there is a Add by URL link. Click it.
  5. When prompted, add the following URL:
  6. return Back to Google Maps
  7. Now you should see Boulder Bike Paths in your Bookmarks list. If you select the box immediately to the left of the Boulder Bike Paths, the bike paths should show up on your map and then you can keep that data visible as you proceed to perform additional Google Map searches.

This is one step closer for me in my quest to have Google provide bike transportation maps as part of their network maps offerings.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Management of Bicycle Transportation

[I haven't been able to view the entire video, but what I have seen is very interesting. I will review this later.]

John Forester spoke at Google's headquarters on the occasion of Bike To Work Day, celebrated May 17 2007 in Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area. He was part of Google's ongoing Tech Talks series of invited guest speakers. His topic was The Management of Bicycle Transportation. You can watch the video here.

[Thanks to ProBicycle for the reference]

Monday, June 4, 2007

Boulder Burley Ride

While doing a search of User-Created content on Google Maps today I noticed that someone had posted a My Maps collection called Boulder Burley Ride. I could not find a web site to credit this map to but if you ever find this information, please let me know.

Anyways, I overlaid the Boulder Burley Ride My Maps onto my Boulder Bike Paths map and the results are here.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Bolder Boulder

The Bolder Boulder 10k race is happening again this Memorial Day Monday. I created a map that shows you the route overlaid with Boulder Bike Paths so you can know where to ride/avoid during the race. I understand that up to 50,000 people run the race so vehicular traffic will be crazy. But I suspect you should be able to navigate the Bike Paths without a problem.

Click here for the map.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Boulder Bike Path Composite Map

I have put together a composite map of Boulder Bike Path here. It will open a map in Google maps that by default shows many of the main Boulder bike paths. On the left hand side of the map you will see various layers (eg., Flooding Potential, Graffiti, Interesting Sites/Sights). By default those are invisible to keep map clutter to a minimum. But you can easily turn those layers visible or invisible by clicking on the little boxes to the left of their names.

The nice thing about this map is that it is dynamic (technically, it makes use of KML network link functionality). That means that if I add a new feature to the Flooding Potential My Maps map, then it will automatically be added to the composite map the next time a viewer refreshes the composite map.

Keep coming back (or subscribe to the RSS feed) to see what new information I have added.


Friday, May 18, 2007

Fox, rabbits, graffiti and murals on the bike paths

When you slow down a bit to enjoy the scenery along the path you notice many interesting things.

The most obvious (unfortunately) seems to be the graffiti. Luckily, the city of Boulder has an online facility repair request form where you can report the graffiti. (There are a few other places on my route that I want to get the location/pictures and then I will report this list to the city.)

But more beautiful (and surprising) are the little hidden treasures along the way. This morning as I was cycling to work I noticed murals on underpass walls, little "rest areas" at the fork of two paths and wildlife. On the Boulder Creek path east of Foothills Parkway I noticed at least 5 rabbits munching away at the side of the path. That explains the sightings that I and my colleagues have had of a fox in that area. Click here for a map (click on the icons on the map to see pictures) of some of these sightings.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Boulder Bike Path Flooding Hazards

Thanks to the kind folks at New West Boulder for their plug on my Boulder Bike Paths on Google Maps project. Richard mentions

Even better would be to add on-street bike routes to the designated paths – so if you're going to Proto's Pizza on North Broadway, for instance, you could see which streets have bike lanes to get up there.

That is definitely in the works.

On another note... when you are cycling on the paths near any of the creeks, please remember to watch the water levels after a rain. Flash flooding is a real hazard here in Boulder. The City of Boulder has a press release stating that Boulder Creek flows are set to increase soon. This is a result of excess water from Barker Reservoir up in Nederland being released into Boulder Creek.

If you are interested in which parts of the bike path network might be more prone to flooding, have a look at the City of Boulder flood maps.

Even if we do not have a flood event, sometimes a bike path underpass next to the creek can cause problems. Click here for a map of flooding hazards that I have noticed on my daily commute.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Boulder Bike Paths on My Maps goals

One of the nice things of having the Boulder Bike Paths available on My Maps is that I can then do a search for a cafe, store, location, etc and when the Google Maps shows that location, it will also overlay the Bike Path network and presto, I can see which bike paths I need to travel on to get to my destination.

I am hoping that my experiment will accomplish a number of things:
  • make it easier for people to see how they can get to destinations on designated bike routes
  • try my hand at Web 2.0 concepts -- it would be nice if other bike path users would also use My Maps to augment the current bike path map and then send me their KML data for inclusion in the larger map
  • eventually this could be done for bike path networks in other locations
  • and my final goal is for Google to take notice and include bike networks as a searchable/traceable (ie., directions) dataset in their Maps offerings
  • and do it all without paying a penny for servers or applications (using GooglePages, My Maps and Blogspot).

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Google Map of Boulder Bike Paths

One of the first projects I want to work on is a Google Map of all the Bike Facilities in the city of Boulder, Colorado, USA. I could also use your help (please see below).

It would initially be based off the map found here (8MB PDF here).

The final output would be a KML file that can be viewed in a number of different ways.

The advantage of this is that you can then use tools like Google Maps or Google Earth to view the bike path network together with your Google searches. For example, you likely know how to search for the South Side Walnut Cafe. Using the Google Maps tool you can also find directions about how to get there on the road network. But if you are not familiar with the bike paths in that area and you want to take your family there with your bikes, then would it not be nice to have an overlaid map showing how to get to the cafe via the bike paths.

In that case, you would first select the Boulder Bike Paths Google Map page and when prompted, search for "South Side Walnut Cafe". Now your results will be overlaid with the Boulder Bike Path map. Pretty neat, eh?

You could also install Google Earth on your desktop and download the corresponding Boulder Bike Paths KML file for you to use with Google Earth.

I need your help
If you have time to digitize additional Boulder Bike Paths into KML format, you could do that and then send me the KML file. I will keep a composite of all the KML files and try to arrange them by groups (bike path name/type). It might also be interesting to have bike path points of interest included on separate layers.

Tools that I used to create KML files:
  • and then create new "My Maps"
  • Google Earth to compile the KML layers
You can contact me at

alfred [dot] sawatzky [at] gmail [dot] com

if you have questions or want to contribute.