Cycling Routes Maps

The idea of the cycling routes maps is to mark the roads and their conditions that the cyclists are actually using. The maps will help cyclists in an unknown place to choose the best cycling route.

In the chapters 1-4, is discussed about the planned and started bike route mapping projects, the colors to be used in different cycling routes, information icons etc. In chapter 5 is explained how the cycling routing work is shared among the collaborators. In the document "Setting up a map site", is explained a bit more detail about the map creation and a web server configuration as well as map site hosting on a public web server.

If you have comments or suggestions please send an email to rintanikkola(at) . You can wrote your comments in English, Italian and also in Finnish.

1 Map of bike maps

Already now there is a lot of information on the web about cycling paths, cycling tourist routes, mountain climbs etc. One idea of the proposed maps is to gather this information on local maps and link to the original sources.  Maps will help a novice, tourists and also more expert cyclists to find the most suitable cycling route. Maps are be created as a shared task force and they will evolve dynamically when the cycling conditions will change.

The map of bike maps is a root map that has link icons to all local cycling maps: cycling climbs, cycling tourist and urban bike maps. The map link icons are displayed on the OpenCycleMap.

Fig. 1
The map of bike maps

  • Link icons of a map
Click on link icon open a new map page:
  urban bike map

cycling climbs map

  cycling tourist map

2 Urban bike map

All cyclists are not equal. There are sport road cyclists, cycling tourists and those who use bicycle every day for short or even longer trips. Certainly all cyclists have common interests but it is also true that the same facilities such as bike paths are not usable for all kind of cycling. We would like to create one map useful for all. Hopefully a casual cyclist consulting the maps finds out the real possibilities riding a bike in every day or even better attract new persons to use bicycle. More cyclists there are, the safer the roads become.

Fig. 2 Cycling path, information window with a link to the external site. The start up of Milan bike map is here.

  • Cycling routes common requirement
    All routes presented on the map must either start and/or end in the same location, for example Milan.

  • Cycling route layers
    On the map are used four cycling route layers, see below their Google marker, definitions and other characteristics: 

    Urban utility cycling routes suitable for slow speed (average speed < 20km/h) . Routes use bike paths and/or roads with a few motor traffic.  The routes are drawn in yellow.

Urban/suburban cycling commuting and principal cycling routes of the city. Routes are suitable for moderate speed (average speed > 20km/h). Routes may use also sections of roads with heavy motor traffic.  The routes are drawn in blue color.

Sport road cycling, routes suitable for groups and fast speed. The routes are drawn in red color.

   Off road, cycling path and weekend leisure cycling routes. These routes are drawn in green color.

The visualization of the route layers can be controlled
from drop down menu menu on the top center location of a map.
  • Route information
    An additional route information might be obtained by clicking the route. In a case of sport road cycling and off road/cycling path routes in the info window there is a link to the external site where the route has been produced and/or the information has been obtained, see Fig. 2.

  • Route numbering
    Routes can be numbered using the icons shown in Fig. 3. The icon color could be used to indicate route difficult level based on a traffic conditions: green easy, yellow media and red difficult.

Fig. 3 Route numbering icons.

  • Information icons
    Icons display useful cycling/tourist information along the cycling routes. At the moment along the routes are displayed the traffic conditions, bicycle repair shops etc. In Fig. 4 is shown some of the used information icons.

Fig. 4 Some Information Icons: General caution, Traffic congestion, Bicycle repair/shop, One-way street, Unsurfaced road.

  • Displaying  route subgroup map
    A link to the route subgroup map can be added into the subgroup information window.

Fig. 5
Clicking the link routes (percorsi) a
route subgroup map will be opened.

3 Cycling climbs map

Cycling climbs map based on the climb database of is in a building phase. The climbs registration maps will be created for every region/state.  Below is shown the information that will be placed on the map, see Fig. 6 and 8

Fig. 6 Cycling climbs map:  Brianza

  • Google marker of cycling climb region
Icon text balloon contains important links to insert climbing routes and icons.

  • Cycling climbs icon
    The cycling climbs and their grade are marked on the map with icons shown on Fig. 7.

Fig. 7 The cycling climbs icons.

    • Climb information
      The climb information is obtained by clicking the route.

Fig. 8 Climb information window.
  • Information icons
    Information icons display useful cycling information along the cycling routes, see examples on Fig 9.

Fig. 9
Drinking water, highway, tunnel,
unsurfaced roads: 1) good enough and 2) not suitable for road bike

4 Cycling tourist map

This is certainly the most divergent group of cyclist. The biking ability in its lower level starts from the children just learn to ride a bike and finishes to the passionate cycling amateurs/professionals. Likewise the ability to travel on roads with a motor traffic. Cycling routes of the map will be divided in layers like on an urban bike map. On this map the route layers do not need to have the common starting location but the routes can be distributed over a larger geographical area.  Like climbs in the cycling climbs map the routes will be grouped by regions. The routes displayed on a map can be also grouped by the bike ride organizer with a subgroup marker info about the ride details: day, time and proposed ride, see Fig 5.

See below some more details about the proposal:

  • Cycling route layers
    On the map are used five cycling route layers, see below their Google marker, definitions and other characteristics:

  Hiking/biking these biking routes are suitable also for the youngest cyclist. No hills. The routes are drawn in green.

  The routes of this group might have sections off road trail but it can use also roads of minor traffic. No hills.
  The routes are drawn in  yellow.


The routes follow mainly the quiet roads without demanding climbs. The routes are drawn in blue.

   This group has demanding on road routes. The routes are drawn in red.

      This group has demanding off road routes. The routes are drawn in brown.

  • Route information
    The route information can be obtained by clicking the route and/or from the icons nearby the route. The route coloring could be used to indicate the difficult sections especially in a case of the "green" and "yellow" route subgroups as has been proposed here, see Fig. 10.

Fig. 10 The route coloring could be used to indicate the difficult sections

5 Contribute

5.1 Share your routes

The route map is using KML for expressing the routes and information icons that are visualized  on the map. The simplest way to share your routes is to use My Google Maps that are already linked to the main route map so updates made on the map will be shown automatically after a delay, in a worst case after about 1h, also on the main route map.

You can also create your own My Google Map that is not linked on the map site,
see details here or produce your own KML files. Concerning sharing of  your KML files, you can e-mail them or host them publicly on a web server. Just as web browsers display HTML files, Earth browsers such as Google Earth and Google Map display KML files.  You need to inform the web master of the map site so that your KML files can be linked to the main route map. See details on document "How to add route on map".

Note that the routes and the information icons are stored in different KML files/ Google maps.  There is a good document how to add icons on My Google Map.
The new Google map icons can be found here.

Fig. 11 Sharing my Google map that is linked to the main route map: routes (percorsi) and information (informazioni).

5.2 Create a bike map site

If you like you can also create a bike map site that is hosting one or more cycling routes maps as described above, see instructions how to create a map site. On every cycling route map you should add a link to this document using control.cfg configuration file:

title: Click to get BikeMap Info page
name: BikeMap Info

In addition to the cycling routes maps the site should maintain a "map of bike maps" page of all cycling route maps hosted on the site. Local "map of bike maps" will be then linked to the main "map of bike maps".

The cycling climbs map can be extended in two ways: either maintaining a single map site or create for example national map sites
: Cycling Climb Map of Italy,  Cycling Climb Map of French, Cycling Climb Map of Spain, Cycling Climb Map of German etc. Each map will have its own server and administrator. The Cycling Climb Map of Europe will be then created as described here. The cycling climb maps should have in addition to the "BikeMap Info" link also a link to the European climbs database

title: Click to get European Cycling Climbs database

The decision about single/multi map site is not definite. Later on if desired the map sites can be united/separated.

6 Final remarks

We have introduced a JavaScript to create route maps and proposed shared open project to create cycling routes maps. We think that not only the route publishing but also the map sites can be shared among several servers.  In order to obtain the most useful maps we should have the common rules for map icons and the colors  that will be used for presenting the cycling routes. If you create a bike map site described above, please send a mail to rintanikkola(at) so that your map(s) will be linked to the map of bike maps.

It can be quite tricky traversing a car dominated city by bicycle, particularly when you need to travel an unknown route to a new destination. The roads are made also for us! Share your knowledge of good bicycle routes to help other cyclist.

7 References