December 13, 2012

Free tool for distances

Can I really get to all of those locations in 10 minutes?

In my post yesterday about the new bike shelters, commenter John of Xing Columbus noted that the maps that Columbus provided are simple radius maps with little relationship to where you can get to. For instance:

Cul-de-sac circles
Credit: Human Transit
These maps show that there is a difference between a radius "as the bird flies" and the area that a person can actually travel to. Human Transit did the calculation and even on a highly gridded street, only 64% of the area is within the stated distance parameter.

Area Traveled in 15 Minutes at 12 MPH from 200 W. Broad St. Generated using How Far Can I Travel
How Far Can I Travel a free web-based program which does an alright job of generating a shape based on travel time. I say alright because the shape is more jagged than one would predict which is likely due to not enough routes attempted by the program. But it's free and way better than the generic distance circle.

3 mile radius circle versus 3 miles of traveling from 200 W. Broad Street. 
In retrospect, labeling the map as x-mile radius map is more accurate than x-minute bike ride map. Overall though, I think the idea of the Columbus maps is sound in the sense that biking is often quicker than people think. There are worse faux pas in the world. 


  1. I wasn't aware of this tool. Looks better, but it seems that they want you to bike on 315.

    I understand the desire to keep it simple with a circle, but I think a map like this would be more accurate and useful.

    1. I think they are using Olentangy River Road but it's not optimized for cyclists/pedestrians. On comment on the site mentioned that pedestrians are routed around one-way streets. It's still a nice tool.

      You're right that it would be more accurate and useful. Plus most large cities should have more robust tools than a free online tool which would provide a better looking map.


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