Monday, January 10, 2011

Review of "Where to Ride in Melbourne: the map"

(Disclaimer: they sent me a free copy of the map.)

Why do you need a map? Ever tried to look at maps on your iphone in the rain? In bright sunshine? No bike path information either. Maps are fast, don’t need phone coverage and can be read quickly in any weather. I learned that the hard way last time I went bike touring: very embarrassing - I had to wave down a car to ask the way in the rain.

This is a map of most of inner Melbourne: out to Brighton in the south, Oakleigh in the East. North to Fitzroy. It’s plastic coated.

It is a real map. All of the details of the Melway maps are there, but with the bicycle information overlaid. In the spirit of “where to ride” it has bright red suggested routes, that combine bike paths and quiet roads. If you are a recreational rider that likes to get away from the traffic but you are not averse to a quiet road or two, then the paths suggested are very good. For example, going north-south it features the outer circle railway path: one of my favourite rides. Going East it features Eastlink: a world standard bike path, probably the only one of that standard in Melbourne.

But if you are a fast rider that likes roads, it has useful information on bike lanes. If you are an exclusive off-road rider then that is there also.

How does it compare to it’s competitors? Very well. For example there are competing products that are bike path descriptions without the Melway level of detail. The problem? You get lost and you can’t locate yourself as there isn’t enough detail on the map - for example not all street names are on the map, only major roads.

A test from my experience. How do you find the connection to the Eastlink bike path at Old Bourke Rd in Kew? This map has the streets marked and the incredibly obscure entrance to the bike path: not marked, no signs: you can’t even see it in Google street view or in the Google satellite view. Full marks.

I looked at other problem locations, and it is very accurate. I couldn’t fault it.

So does it have weaknesses? Well with all that detail, some of it gets a bit hard to see: the bike paths themselves are hard to see. But the main “where to ride” routes are very clear.

It’s reasonably priced and available from http://bicyclingaustralia.com/wheretoride

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