Riding in a new area or commuting by bike to a different part of town for a business meeting can be daunting, but these map apps make it easy to find the best, safest and most enjoyable cycle routes.
Finding cycle routes is very different to travelling by car, it really is a case of the journey being more important than the destination. You want your cycle ride to be enjoyable, easy to navigate and feel safe. The joy of cycling is that you have the freedom to explore a wide variety of options and can often take a more direct route than a car or bus, particularly in cities. There is a whole network of cycle paths, parks, quiet back streets and lanes to explore but knowing where to start can be tricky.
Below is a round-up of the best route finding apps and how to make the most of them to plan your next cycling journey.
Pick a start and end point and the programme will design a route for you. It also allows for manual planning and your own personal tweaks to the route created, plus you can choose to follow bike paths as a preference, where they are available. Route profiles are generated so you can pin point on your map where the climbs are. You can share and search routes belonging to other users, or set your own routes to private. With the paid for version you are able to download your maps for use off line and use a live tracker with the phone app to see where on your route you are for easier navigation.
Most people think of Strava for recording rides, competing on segments and training but it can be a very useful way to find the areas popular with cyclists. Segments tend to be created on frequently ridden routes, which you can normally assume make them the best for cycling in that area. Strava’s route developing tool is no easier to use than any of the others listed here but a look at the overview map of segments can help guide you in the direction of the best riding. All of this is available on the free package.
Simple to use with many of the same features as www.ridewithgps.com, but with a larger community of users and more existing routes to browse and share. Another advantage is that it offers fitness and training advice, you can pair the app with your heart rate monitor and other fitness apps such as My Fitness Pal for diet advice. It is also available as MapMyRun.
More complicated and more comprehensive than other planners, but with less free to use features. You can make decisions based on the type of bike you ride, the terrain you are interested in riding and even types of attractions you want to visit along the way. It is more suitable for planning long journeys and even multiple day cycling holidays, which it excels at, rather than short rides.
Whilst these apps are handy tools, it is important to remember that safety comes first. Whatever tools you use to help you plan your route, you should always give the road and your surroundings your full attention.