The Cycling Guide mobile app, which we’re creating with CycleWR, has reached a milestone. After an extended period of internal testing, we’ve put it in the hands of several people who are experienced and confident cyclists to see how well it works for them. But the app is actually aimed at people who aren’t experienced and confident cyclists. Why have we gone with these experienced and confident cyclists for early testing? It’s because we’re particularly interested in learning about the quality of the routes that Cycling Guide provides, and we want to start with people whose cycling experience and knowledge of cycling in Waterloo Region will better equip them to assess those routes.
Here’s a little bit of an overview of the routes. One of the things that we want Cycling Guide to do is provide low stress routes for people who otherwise may not feel confident or comfortable enough to ride in Waterloo Region. The routes that Cycling Guide presents on the map show cyclists what they can expect in terms of stressful (or not) car traffic when cycling along a route. When creating a route, the app classifies streets and paths into four groups:
- Good for anyone
You’ll ride with few or no cars
- Good for most cyclists
You’ll ride in lighter car traffic
- Good for confident cyclists
You’ll ride closer to cars
- Good for strong cyclists
You’ll ride in heaver car traffic
The resulting Cycling Guide routes are often low stress, using protected cycling lanes, shared paths, and other car-free options. That is, Cycling Guide routes will typically favour the lowest stress paths and streets, the ones that are good for anyone. That’s great for less experienced cyclists.
Of course, this is what we intended. How close have we gotten to achieving this? So far the feedback is great. Here’s what some of our testers are saying:
- “Passed through a park with construction on the trail which was not noted on the map. It was passable but looked like it had recently been closed.”
- “Route did not suggest going directly down Doon South but rather to take a trail just after Winding Wood Cres. The trail had an intense, steep hill that would be challenging for most cyclists. Doon South at least is flat. Then lost the trail/route through a GVTA trail that was not appropriate for cyclists. Felt out of the way and not very direct.”
- “I hit a dead end near a pond looking for this route, and couldn't see it. I ended up getting back on Laurel Trail, to land near the top of this mystery segment, so I got back on track.”
- “I just want to emphasize I really love the problem this app is looking to solve.”
As the first three examples show, we have plenty of room to improve. But it’s great feedback as it all addresses exactly what we’re looking to learn about in our current testing phase: the quality of Cycling Guide routes. I also like the fourth piece of feedback, as it confirms that we’re going in the right direction!
Our work continues, and Cycling Guide improves every week.
If you’re interested in getting early access to Cycling Guide yourself, sign up right now at CyclingGuide.app. We’d love to hear from you.