Cycle SatNav please!

Sunday 20 December 2009

I’d really love SatNav for my bike. I’ve been banging on about it for a couple of years now to my missus and am amazed that there’s still nothing available. Cycling is generally a lot simpler and quicker than driving and public transport, but only if you know the routes. I think its a key barrier to the perception that London streets are dangerous.

There are so many lovely routes through parks and backstreet gems which open up London to cyclists. It just takes the thought of going round Aldwych roundabout and have double deckers on all sides, or ending up in circles in damned West-End backstreet one-way systems hounded by taxis, and a sensible person may well ditch the bike purchase. But if you can all-but-guarantee them a nice route away from the traffic, with an estimated time of 16 minutes, compared to cramming into a tube full of tourists, then they may well just take it.

Even having been in London myself a couple of years now and know many of the key cycle routes, but I’m often still wishing for SatNav. Recently I went from King’s Cross to Golders Green and after about half an hour study of the map decided the simplest thing was to slog it up the A41 Finchley Road for half an hour.

I often cycle plan routes with the excellent CycleStreets.net and also really like the TFL cycle planner (although it is most inflexible), but both of these print off umpteen pages of maps and directions with plenty of “After 1.3km bear left onto Unnamed Street”. The only way you can realistically take them with you is to study the map and write out your own directions.

Sure, you can attach your TomTom to your bike, but that’ll take you on the A41 given half a chance. It doesn’t know about the excellent London cycle routes, cycle-only contraflows and hills.

So, for all current and future urban cyclists, please someone make us a cycle SatNav!

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