This entry was posted on Sunday, August 29th, 2010 at 4:59 pm and is filed under Cycle touring. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
DISCLOSURE: The app I am about to extol the virtues of is published by BikeHub.co.uk, of which I’m the editor. I commissioned the app, but it’s the Bike Hub levy which pays for it. While most of the features were requested by yours truly, some were put in place by Tinderhouse, the design company which built the app (and which also built Map My Tracks, as used by Sky pro cycling team).
There, that’s my bias up front and out of the way.
The Bike Hub iPhone app will hit Apple’s App Store soon. It has been undergoing trials for a few weeks and I’m getting happier and happier with it. In the main, the app is for urban use. It will generate cycle-friendly routes in cities and towns, using the mapping engine provided by Cyclestreets.net. It also finds the nearest bike shops in a six mile radius and has other tricks up its sleeve, too.
But what I didn’t appreciate it would be able to do was help on bike tours. I’m just back from a door-to-door tour of Northumberland (pix) with my wife and three kids. We mainly used the Sustrans’ Reivers Route and the Hadrian’s Cycleway (roughly, routes 10 and 72).
When the kids asked how far it was to the next destination I could have guessed; stopped and measured it out via the SatMap GPS device on my handlebars; or I could do what I did do: and that’s fire up the Bike Hub app and, so long as there was a phone signal, I could ask for the exact mileage on the type of roads we were cycling on.
The app also gives an ETA using 12mph as the average. Of course, we had lots of sweetie stops and tear-and-tantrum breaks so this ETA had to be thrown out of the window. But travel without kids and at a constant speed and I’m sure this ETA feature will work just fine.
The best bit about the app for bike touring was the navigation feature. When in Bardon Mill we wanted to make a detour from the Hadrian’s Cycleway. The Sustrans map was vague on details; and even when zooming in on a 50,000 OS map on the SatMap, there didn’t seem an obvious route that didn’t involve either a long way out of our way or - and this was out of the question - a short ride along the busy A69.
There was a small bridge on the OS map but the route down to it was indistinct to the point of being useless from a is-this-a-worthwhile-route point of view. A 25,000 scale map would have been necessary to see the right amount of detail. With only a 50,000 map card in the device I called upon the Bike Hub app to plan a route.
It planned a route down a minor ‘white’ road, across a railway junction and over the less-than-obvious footbridge. Perfect. So, that’s the way we went. It didn’t look like it was going to work, but it did.
The Bike Hub app uses OpenStreetMap mapping data supplied by ‘the community’ and so some local at some point must have suggested this was a perfectly good route to use. Thanks to whomever that was and thanks to Cyclestreets.net for such a great cycle-friendly map.
The Bike Hub iPhone app will be out within the next ten days. Details will be on the website and on Bike Hub’s twitterfeed.