Cities all over the world are being transformed to be more cyclist-friendly. Dedicated bike paths, new laws, and advertising campaigns are encouraging locals, and tourists, to get out of their cars and onto two wheels.
There are many reasons why city cycling is incredible. Not only does it allow people of all kinds an opportunity to move more and improve their health, but it also does wonders for the local environment and traffic congestion.
If you want to embrace the urban bike ride, there are many ways you can get involved. Why not opt to cycle your work commute? Or if you’re on holiday, why not rent a bike and explore instead of taking a guided tour?
The five following options will help you plan the perfect route, whether you’re at home in your own city or on the road.
This mighty search engine is one of the most powerful tools for accessing information of any kind. Specifically, Google Maps makes it easy for cyclists to find, map and save routes almost anywhere in the world.
Simply search your start and end points, get directions and make sure the app is set to bike mode. It will then generate the quickest route. If you're riding for pleasure, you can opt for the alternative suggestions based on how long you want to be out.
This method is foolproof and can be applied worldwide. However, to use it, especially if you are abroad, you’ll need to connect to WiFi. Public connections leave you prone to hackers, which can lead to personal information theft. Since our phones carry so much valuable data, from credit card information to addresses, it’s wise to take some precaution. Apps such as ExpressVPN can encrypt your data, meaning you can set up maps and start your ride without having to worry about manually avoiding bad networks.
2. Ride The City
Ride The City is another excellent app that is quickly gaining traction in the cycling world. It uses “cycling artificial intelligence” to consider key components of designing the perfect route. It focuses on road safety, so is a fantastic choice if you’re out with the family. The turn-by-turn navigation is easy to follow when on the roads, and there is tons of extra information on local cycling infrastructure. As a bonus, you get a personalized heat-map of the city to show where you've been. Unfortunately, this does also require an internet connection, so note the above point about WiFi and data overseas.
While this app is probably one of the best community-driven bike apps out there, it’s currently not available worldwide. So far, there are maps available for most of the Bay Area in California, Prague, Bratislava and Berlin. They’re set to release a whole bunch of new cities soon, so keep your eyes peeled!
Strava is by far the best options for fitness and competition cyclists, but athletes of all kinds can benefit from this app, as it offers a detailed recording of your training to help with improving performance. Working with GPS data from your phone or any other device, it tracks vital data – speed, distance, climbs, etc. - and shares it on the platform.
This allows you to compare notes with fellow cyclists and even try for some on-site awards. The King of the Mountain and The Queen of the Mountain are inspired by the Tour-de-France and rank the top riders on individual climbs.
If you're just interested in planning routes, they have a comprehensive search available. You can filter by distance, time, proximity to your house and incline.
Another great feature of Strava is the city guides. Numerous options available worldwide offer you a detailed analysis of possible routes, making it perfect for those who love to travel on their bike.
If you have the cash to invest in your cycling, a Garmin should be top of your list. These specially-designed bike computers are your best friend when it comes to mapping routes around any city. One of the best features is that it can also navigate off-road, so it’s the perfect choice if you want to get off the tarmac.
Another element that makes Garmin so attractive among cyclists is the ability to pair it with a Garmin heart rate monitor. Using ant+ or Bluetooth, you can receive instant feedback on how you’re performing physically throughout the ride.
It goes without saying that cycling is a fantastic fitness exercise. It allows you to get out into the world instead of working out in a cramped gym. And with the addition of Garmin technology, you can still benefit from all the useful stats that digital exercise machines provide.
5. Local Clubs
While technology offers many of the best options for planning routes and cycling in the city, there are still choices available for the technophobes among us. Every city has multiple local clubs that will take you on group rides, which allows you to get to know fellow riders.
Not only can these clubs help you familiarize yourself with various urban routes, but they also offer an invaluable opportunity to improve technique and get advice from others. There is also a fantastic social element, as you can meet like-minded people and frequent all the cycling-café hotspots in your city. Some bike shops will even offer you discounts just for being a club member.
Finding the ideal group without the internet can be tricky. You’ll have to ask around or visit some local shops, but with some persistence, you should be able to find something. However, if you don’t mind getting online, there are plenty of websites that allow you to search by location. Try US Cycling to find more info on how to find or create the perfect bike club for you.
Once you've fallen in love with the bike, it can feel like there's never enough time to ride. Cycling the city is a fantastic way to get out and moving, even if you only have a few minutes to spare. As city cycling becomes more accessible, route planning apps like these are going to become truly invaluable.
Get ahead of the game and try them now, or leave a comment below if you know of alternative options. We're always eager to hear about exciting new resources.
About the Author: Cassie is a blogger by day and avid sports lover by night. She enjoys a whole range of physical activities but cycling has always held a special place in her heart. She tries to ride whenever she can and loves that technology is making the sport more accessible all around the world.