Thinking about using wikimapping to make PhillyMap more useful

Cleveland bikeshare wikimap

WikiMapping projects are being used in Bellingham, WA, Portage, WI, Lawrence, KS, Chapel Hill, and Lexington, MA and many other locations by transportation professionals.

Bicycle and Pedestrian planners, such as Toole Design Group, are using WikiMapping for crowdsourcing bikeshare location input, getting feedback on bike plans, and doing bike trail planning.  WikiMapping is a tool that can help me maintain PhillyMap data with as little effort as possible.  I just need to take the plunge, set up a project, and replace the existing maps on PhillyMap.com.  If  you have an interest in helping to create a wikimap for PhillyMap.com, you can set up a project admin account at WikiMapping and we can incorporate it into PhillyMap.com.

Here’s how it would work for bike shops.  I would replace the bike shops with an updated database.  Then anybody could upload photos for each bike shop.  And if there’s a change or wrong info, people can simply add a comment.  At the same time, it is easy enough to let people draw in bike lanes and bike parking.

Of course, wikimaps would not necessarily be limited to bike and transit.  If you have an interest creating your own map, even if it isn’t for phillymap.com, contact the WikiMapping Map Team.


Inspiration, New tools

What a better way to start the week than to watch videos by someone who inspires me. Bert Monroy, a hyper-realist artist, has great videos on lynda.com. Take a look at his incredible artwork.

His philosophy is that he creates paintings that make him feel good. They don’t have to be perfect, but they help him express himself.  I find that this is what motivates me in terms of cartography.  It’s important for me to do work for others because I learn so much.  But I enjoy making maps most when I’m the driving force behind them.

So… I’m also really into the latest and greatest technology.  It is part of what makes work fun.  On Friday, I got the new CS5 Creative Suite after watching Mordy Golding’s Lynda.com videos about the new features.  This is the best Ilustrator upgrade in a long time, and I had ordered it awhile ago.

And… to watch lynda.com video tutorials, what better than to do this on a 3G ipad?  Right now, Lynda is interviewing Bert about the new bristle brush in Ilustrator CS5.  It looks great on the ipad.

In regards to the ipad, I think I’ll use it for web browsing, watching videos, MotionXGPS, and checking email, but not so much for writing. I’m not even bothering to put music on it since an iphone works fine for this.

Finally, last night was the Bicycle Coalition’s Annual Meeting.  This is a great event – always inspiring.

Perkiomen Trail North

I’ve ridden most trails in the region, and this is one of my favorites due to the variety of scenery. It passes by Spring Mountain ski slope, the Phila Folk Festival, playgrounds, Schwenksville, horse farms, summer cabins, old mills, etc. Green Lane Reservoir Park is worthy of a day trip itself.

Perkiomen Trail and Single Track around Green Lane Reservoir

I like the Breezer Finesse

JT, the manager of  Breezer Bikes, loaned me a Breezer Finesse bike to try out. I’ve had it a couple of weeks, and I think it’s worth sharing my perceptions. I’ll start by reflecting on what I’ve told people in person. Here’s what I’ve said to people:

  • “You’ve got to try out this bike”
  • “It’s so quiet”
  • “The generator hub and ambient light sensors for the lights totally change my perception of night riding in the suburbs. It’s great. And look how they handled the wiring. It’s in the fenders.”
  • “It’s very comfortable”
  • “The 8 speed internal hub is nice, though the range could be a little wider.”

    Basically, Breezer has paid attention to little details that make for a really nice bike.  It’s the kind of bike you’d want to ride to a business meeting – elegant, functional, and comfortable on a 1 mile hilly bike ride to Starbucks or a 10 mile urban bike ride to Mugshots.  It’s a bike people would admire, but it doesn’t call attention to itself (I’d like to think… though many people have noticed I was riding a new bike).

    So… the question is, how do I get one?  My daughters and wife like the look of it.  This is a good start.  But we just bought a tandem last year, so the question becomes how one justifies buying a new bike two years in a row.

    Basically, I think it comes down to budgeting about $5 a day for transportation costs.  And then the price becomes less of an issue.  It definitely beats driving a car or riding the train.  And with an awesome lighting system, the Breezer is a great bicycle for riding at night.

    Thank you!

    Thanks Phil. Sandi and I love the "Amazing Race"

    I have so much to write about, and this is the really busy season for me.  Thanks are in order.

    First, to Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz and Earl Blumenauer.  I’m excited to see my Congresswoman team up with the esteemed Congressman from Portland, Oregon.  Below is a link of me with Congressman Blumenauer after we talked about bicycling to Baltimore and his upcoming trip to Philadelphia (and Jenkintown, I hope)

    Short Video of Steve and the Congressman

    Next, is the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and the League of American Bicyclists.  Sarah Clark-Stuart did a fantastic job coordinating things in DC.

    Alex Doty, Breen Goodwin, and Hans Van Naerssen (the new League President)

    Thank you to the Maryland State Bicycle Coodinator, Michael Jackson, for giving me a reason to bike 50 miles between DC and Baltimore.

    En route from DC to Baltimore (a 4 1/2 hr ride)

    Here is a link to the route I took:

    Thank you to Pennsylvania’s First Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator, Dave Bachman. Brian Sanders is the new Bike/Ped Coordinator. State Representative Rick Geist, from Altoona, presented Dave with a citation. He didn’t read the whole thing, but it probably says, “Dave, you’re a cool dude, and you did a great job” (in official-speak, of course). Dave did bike across the US one summer.

    Representative Rick Geist, presenting citation to Dave Bachman

    Rep. Rick Geist with Dave Bachman

    Thanks to google for coming out with google maps for bicycling. I find it really useful. And I look forward to incorporating this into my projects.

    Google maps team member demonstrating the new bicycle routing.

    Regional Trails Article

    A map we designed for Pennsylvania Enivronmental Council and the Bicycle Coalition was part of a $23 million TIGER grant application that was awarded yesterday!

    Last night, Spencer Finch, at Pennsylvania Environmental Council, told me the Philadelphia Inquirer needed a map for an article.  I emailed the map to John Duchneskie at the Inquirer, and someone there modified it to work in the paper. The resulting  map appeared in a Philadelphia Inquirer Article: New bike paths for region, courtesy of US Stimulus.

    The Inquirer did a great job with this map.  Newspaper maps look deceptively simple, but it takes skill to design a good newspaper map.  The end result is to direct the reader to the most relevant information.

    Here are some things worth noting about the Inquirer’s map:

    • Philadelphia’s white background quickly centers your eye.
    • All leaders are horizontal, vertical or a combination of both.
    • The shading beneath the trails allows them to show up well over both the gray surrounding counties and the white Philadelphia.
    • I like how the asterisk was used for noting funded trail segments.
    • Even though text sometimes overlaps trails, it works.
    • I like how the smaller text of the trail names stands out, and yet the trail segments for funding are larger.  It’s effective.
    • The semicolons separating trails (Boardwalk to South St., etc) are effective
    • White frames the map.
    • The 5 mile scale makes sense.

    It’s refreshing to see our map transformed by someone else.