In the first week since CycleStreets has gone live we have received over 100 items of feedback from users.
Most of the replies have been concerned with the quality of the routes produced by the Journey Planner. While some people were highly satisfied with the routes generated there were more complaints about the routes being very strange. Most of the dissatisfaction seems to be with route planning in hilly areas, and where the base maps we are using are incomplete. Most of the satisfaction with the planned routes lies in the built up areas where the map data is much more complete.
We are responding to this feedback as quickly as we can. We have already made several changes, for instance to improve the searching for addresses and postcodes. We have also got a way of marking routes as having known problems that we acknowledge need fixing.
CycleStreets has ‘grown up’ in Cambridge which is flat and urban, and initially those are the types of route that it will handle best. In Cambridge, where we once had a ban on cycling in the centre of the city, there are a few places where it is quicker to get off your bike and walk a short stretch and remount. This is why on the Journey Planner page there is an option to ‘Include routes requiring a dismount’. Now we have gone national we have discovered that using this setting means that the route planner is too eager to include footpaths in the route listing. We are going to review this option and hopefully make the way it handles it a bit more intelligent so that for instance it will allow one or two dismounts on a route rather than either none or very many.
Our basemaps are provided by a comminuty project known as openstreetmap.org. In most large urban areas of the country their data is complete and up to date. With a few exceptions, their maps are more likely to be complete where there is a large population and so this means that rural locations are sometimes have rather bare maps. So for the time being we can’t pretend to offer good routing in these areas. Currently we don’t have an automatic way of acknowledging this in our system.
We have had a very warm response to the look of the website and how easy it is to plan a route. We have had to make only a few changes to make sure the system works on as wide a set of computers and operating systems as possible, and we’ve already had several requests for a mobile ‘phone version. It is also satisfying to have new contributors to our Photomap which will hopefully will transform it from a Cambridge focussed to more national system.