CycleStreets has worked with Transition Black Isle to provide an embedded cycle journey planner for their website. Peter Elbourne, project officer for the Million Miles project explains.

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Million Miles logo

Transition Black Isle is a community organisation and registered charity that aims to take local action on issues relating to peak oil and climate change. The group decided to undertake a bold project to make local travel more sustainable and, in March 2012, they were awarded a grant of £195,000 from the Climate Challenge Fund. Transition Black Isle’s Million Miles project aims to cut one million car miles by 2015 by encouraging active travel, improving access to public transport and promoting greener car travel.

One of the key objectives of the Million Miles project is to create an active travel map of the Black Isle to signpost less confident cyclists along quiet off-road tracks through farmland and forests. However, the group had some significant hurdles to overcome:

  • The Black Isle is a large rural peninsula with a dispersed population, which makes gathering information about routes a time-consuming and arduous process and it is also difficult to know what journeys local residents make.
  • Active travel routes will change over time (e.g. alteration of forestry tracks, new purpose-built paths), which means that a map could be out-of-date soon after printing.

Transition Black Isle cycle journey planner

Transition Black Isle’s solution was to ‘crowdsource’ mapping data by asking local people to contribute information to the online map, OpenStreetMap. This innovative approach means that the group has access to a digital map that can continually be updated. A diverse network of contributors – including keen walkers, weekend cyclists and even remote mappers without a particular connection to the Black Isle – have been adding to the map since early 2013. Huge amounts of progress has been made and the peninsula is mapped on OpenStreetMap with valuable detail for walking and cycling, providing information such as track surface, barriers, access and bike parking.

Transition Black Isle is now looking to create a printed map to distribute locally, but a single map cannot convey all of the information that is available through OpenStreetMap. The group had been promoting CycleStreets locally as it was a great application for the information they collectively contributed to OpenStreetMap. Their experience of our bespoke lift-sharing website highland.liftshare.com demonstrated that it is important to promote an online service with a local connection, so Transition Black Isle decided to take advantage of an offer from CycleStreets to embed a version of the journey planner into their website. After a quick and hassle-free set up, cycleroutes.transitionblackisle.org went live in April 2014!

Peter Elbourne, project officer for the Million Miles project said:

“CycleStreets now fits seamlessly into our website and with the homepage map centred over the Black Isle, selecting the start and end points of a route is straightforward and you can toggle between a selection of useful background maps and aerial photography.”

“Quiet, Fastest and Balanced are the ideal categories for routes options from A to B because people using the journey planner will take different approaches to cycling: one cyclist may want to stick to the roads and get somewhere as quickly as possible and another may be happy meandering through the forests free from traffic.”

Culbokie Journey on embedded CycleStreets planner

The screenshot below shows some of the work that has been done to improve the OpenStreetMap map data in the area. Peter said:

“It’s particularly satisfying when CycleStreets routes you along a forest access road or farm track that you added to OpenStreetMap – it completes the circle!”

OSM Culbokie Apr 2013 to Jan 2014

Transition Black Isle will also ensure that their printed map heavily promotes OpenStreetMap and the new online cycle router. In a sense, the printed map will be an elaborate flyer for cycleroutes.transitionblackisle.org. There’s a lot going on in the Million Miles project – visit the page on the group’s website for more information.

Want an embedded cycle journey planner on your website? Read our page to find out more.

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