The advocacy organization “Bike Ottawa” (formerly know as Citizens for Safe Cycling) has recently released a series of interesting interactive maps on their website that will make it easier for cyclists to get around the Ottawa-Gatineau area.
The first is a Cycling Stress Map. It shows the level of traffic stress (LTS) for every road in the region. All roads are colour coded, blue being for the routes that are the most relaxing, while red indicate roads that are the most stressful, and that usually have high volumes of traffic.
When looking at the map, click on the small bike icon in the upper left corner to see the legend for the colour coding. One interesting feature is that you can untick the box for a particular stress level and eliminate the roads you don’t want to use from the map. Very handy.
I took a quick look at how the map rates certain roads, and I would have to say that it seems to err on the side of caution. There were some roads that were colour coded yellow (medium stress) that I would have rated as green (low stress). Red is used for road that are downright scary, and should generally be avoided by cyclists. However, red was also used to rate some roads that may have a bit of traffic, but which I consider tolerable.
The next map is for finding a cycling route between two points. This feature already exists on Google Maps, but what makes this particular map different is that it allows you to select the level of traffic stress you’re comfortable with when planning a route. However, you can not expect miracles from it. If you’re looking for a low stress route through a part of town that has no bike paths or bike friendly roads, the map will not suggest anything.
There is also an Isochrones Map, which allows you to pick a point in the city, and then see how far from this point you can cycle within a certain amount of time. For example, drag the black dot on this map to where you live. The area immediately around your place that is coloured dark blue is how far you can cycle in 3 minutes. The area in a slightly lighter blue would require six minutes of cycling time, and so on. The area in the lightest blue would take 15 minutes to reach by bike.