Thursday, October 11, 2007

City of Boulder Underworld Tour: 2007

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

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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.