Editorial: Best City Cycling Map known to us

To calm the passions of our spirited (but still unfinished) hate cycles/hate cars debate, here is a follow-up to our no less heady discussions on cities and cycling maps. You will see the background on all that and the interim results just below – but for now, let me introduce the map that I use each day here in Paris when I need some help for trip planning.   I am sure there must be better ones out there that we shall be hearing about, but this is not a bad way to get this discussion moving here.

City of Paris Bike Map:

Let’s start with a screen shot of what you see when you click here – http://vgps.paris.fr/.

Unfortunately the map is not yet available in English (or Spanish, etc.), and while you can play with it to see for yourselves, here are several of the high points that strike me as particularly useful:

  • Bottom left menu – gives you a choice of route: shortest, safest, medium.
  • Upper left menu – reports: Distance, approx. time of trip, elevation
  • Your selected route is color coded to show protected cycling and other.
  • And once you have your route straight, you can print out the whole map, including with street by street instructions, with signs indicating the kind of cycling conditions along route (separate path, shared with pedestrians, reserved bus lanes, etc.)


For anyone peddling in Paris there are two more map products that come in handy:

Paris Velo Net at http://www.parisavelo.net/ maps the location and current status of Vélib stations. Very handy to access before you take off on a trip (allowing you to find the nearest station with free bikes, and at the other end of your tip to make sure you have stations with free parking slots. Recommended if you have to be on time for your appointment.

JCDecaux’s All Bikes Now smartphone application, freely available at http://itunes.apple.com/fr/app/allbikesnow/id333176106?mt=8

Maps on Vélib Stations: If you have not done your homework in advance and find yourself at a station with no bikes/no parking slots, you can get some help from the small terminal which explains to you how to scan for nearest free bikes/parking slots.

Is it perfect? Surely not (yet). We would like to see the best of all that rolled into one map available in paper, on line, and smart phone form. But if you check it out you will see that the City of Paris is producing some pretty good building blocks. (While at the same time they are contuinually upgrading and extending the cycling network. We are not Amsterdam yet, but hold on for a few years.)

Background on World Streets project behind this posting:

The following email was sent on April 8 2011 to World City Bike Forum at http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/WorldCityBike/ and our Facebook Group at http://tinyurl.com/fb-wcbike. You can see the responses from many parts of the world at http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/WorldCityBike/message/1208

World Streets, Paris. April 8 2011
   " Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race" - H. G. Wells

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Here are three questions about cycling maps for cities that I would guess that about everyone meeting here will be interested to hear about.
1.     What is the best cycling map you have ever done or seen? (With reference and URL if available.)
2.     Once you create your cycling map what is the next step?
3.     Have you done or considered working with or using in parallel with Open Street Map and/or Google Maps.

We have in mind to do one, possibly more articles in World Streets on cycling maps as tools for improving conditions for cyclists in our cities – with actual examples of best (or at least good) practices. With always Gil Peñalosa's "Safe cycling for 8 to 80" strategy in mind

Thank you, and stay in touch with World Streets to see how this one works out. You maybe surprised.

Eric Britton - Eric.britton@worldstreets.org

4 thoughts on “Editorial: Best City Cycling Map known to us

  1. Dear Eric,

    yes it is a great tool indeed, I use it everytime I ride somewhere I am not familiar with. And actually it is a Paris.fr rebranding of Geovelo and can also be found on : http://www.geovelo.fr/

    The good news is that it is not restricted to Paris but also covers the fine ridable cities of :
    Tours (where it originates form)

    They need support to extend their skills to other cities…..

  2. Hello,
    I am Marco from Rome/Italy where we haven’t a usefull official map of Rome cycling paths (Piste Ciclabili) but our organization Ciclomobilisti have mapped those on google maps.
    But if you come in Rome ask us about the last minute info or problems.

    bye Marco

  3. Pingback: City cycle mapping – a more ambitious approach? http://www.geovelo.fr/ - « Network Dispatches

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