Strava is an awesome web app that helps runners and cyclists track their training performance and compare it with friends. I use it to log all my runs and occasionally my bike rides. They’ve taken the GPS data from the millions of trips their users have logged and built a crowdsourced mapping tool. If you’re technically inclined, I highly recommend the engineering blog post that explains how the graph datastore and geospatial index were designed. If you’re not, you can still appreciate the heat maps and route builder tool they provide.
Here are heat maps of the most popular cycling and running routes in Vancouver, compared to the official bike map. It’s interesting to note there are several streets that are popular cycling routes but not official bike routes – like Cornwall, West Point Grey (soon to be a bike route), 16th, Denman, and sections of Cambie and Main Street. The seawall is the most popular route for running, but cycling is only popular on the seawall where there is physical separation with pedestrians.
Strava’s Route Builder application is a worthy competitor to Google Maps. It knows the most popular routes so it often gives better directions than Google Maps for running and cycling. For example, here are the directions for my commute to work. Strava chooses the route I actually take over the Dunsmuir Viaduct while Google is way off. Most of Strava’s cycling data comes from competitive cyclists, not commuters, so the data is a bit skewed. You can really see it in the time it suggests for my commute – 6 minutes. In reality it takes me about 10-12 minutes to bike to work, which is closer to what Google displays.
Strava has released a heatmap application that does a much better job of showing off the popular running and biking routes.