I have thought lately about cycling route options which are more cycle friendly. This lead me to exploring online cycle routing programs. I am familiar with the likes of Ride with GPS which I use a lot but this time I was looking more for applications that would propose cycle routes within Perth. Of course this can be done to some degree with Google Maps. However I did come across other options: BBBike@Perth, Ride the City – Perth and Optimap. The following is my take on these tools along with a heads-up on the paper or PDF alternatives. My testing of each of these online routing tools, Google Maps, BBBike@Perth, Ride the City – Perth and Optimap was based on my regular commute from Fremantle to Joondalup. It was interesting to see what options these tools came up.
Cycle Route Planning with Google Maps – Get Directions – Bicycle
With Google Maps I used the Get Directions function selecting bicycle. Google Maps allowed me to enter my home address and address for my destination. So it was effectively door to door. Google Maps suggested three routes, ranging from 40.0 km to 40.3 km with an estimated time from 2 hours 18 mins to 2 hours 25 mins. My normal route is 42 km and takes up to two hours depending on wind conditions. The first two routes suggested by Google Maps included Marmion Avenue and/or West Coast Highway. Neither of these roads, based on experience, are ones that I would consider ideal for daily commuting. This is one of the reasons I take West Cost Drive instead as it takes me off these two roads. The third route looks interesting and promising. It in part includes a section of what I consider my “alternative route” and makes more use of shared paths and safer roads. It is one route I might explore more on the bike. A couple of other features of Google Maps that appeal is the 3D fly over of the route. You can follow the route in a 3D satellite representation. It also allows the cycle route to be viewed on a cycle friendly map and in normal satellite view. The big downside is you can not download the route for importation into say a Garmin Edge 810.
Cycle Route Planning with BBBike@Perth
BBBike@Perth was originally designed as a tool for Berlin and then exported for other cities including Perth using OpenStreetMap. BBBike@Perth couldn’t determine a cycle route from my start point to my end point. It started out okay but eventually came to an end before my planned destination. Its mapping is also a bit vague, at times just laying down straight lines rather than actually following the roads. On the positive side it does, if you can get it to suggest an acceptable route provide some additional helpful tools.
It provides estimated ride times based on four speed options. The default is 20 km/h and hence it recommends 10 km/h, 15 km/h and 25 km/h as alternatives. You can change the default speed if these do not suit you.
It also tells you how many traffic lights there on the proposed course.
You can also set the preferred street category (prefer residential roads through to avoid main roads without cycle paths); road surface (no preference, avoid cobble stones and bad surfaces, use only very good surfaces); on the way with (trailer, child seat); avoid unlit streets, and choose to use ferries or not.
There is also a “way back” option.
The cycle route is provided with a cue sheet, an elevation profile and the option to print the map (PDF) as well as printing the map in six different sizes (e.g., 800 x 600).
The big plus for me, if it could route properly, is that it allows exporting the route as a GPS (Route), GPS (Track) and Google Earth (KML) file. It is also possible to upload the route to GPSies.com. Exporting to GPSies.com is where it gets interesting because the route displayed at GPSies.com is different to what is displayed at BBBike@Perth! The GPSies.com variation of my route matches the “Curtin Avenue” route produced by Google Maps. This means I then have the option to download the cycle route as a GPX file or export it to my Garmin Edge 810. Having the ability to export to GPSies.com overcomes the issue of the cycle route not displaying correctly at BBBike.com and while this is an extra step, the export to Garmin functionality is quite appealing. For those interested GPSies.com is also a possible route-planning option for rides outside of the city.
Cycle Route Planning with Ride the City – Perth
The key feature of Ride the City – Perth is that it provides three cycle route options in response to your search query. They are what are defined as a “Safer Route”, a “Safe Route” and a “Direct Route.” I first wrote about Ride the City – Perth in 2011 so it is interesting to come back now, two years later and see if my thoughts have changed. To be honest I have hardly used the program in that two years which probably says a lot about how I found it. Applying my test cycle route, I had to first remove the street numbers as it would not search on that criteria. This was frustrating as my destination is a long street and the street number is a critical piece of information in determining my real destination. So straight up it was not cycle route planning correctly. Based on the allowed search criteria the “safer route” came in at 47.7 km with a time estimate of 178 – 237 minutes and an elevation gain of 453 m. There is no obvious way to adjust the criteria used to decide the safeness of the route or the ride speed and it is not clear what criteria used is in the calculations. The “safer route” maximised the use of the Principal Shared Paths (PSP) between my start point and the destination and reflects in the main the cycle route that I commonly use. My only negative with this route is the ride around Fremantle; it suggests a heavy truck route for a short section when there are better alternatives, but otherwise a pretty good route for a safer route. The “safe route” came in at 47.7 km with a time estimate of 178 – 237 minutes and an elevation gain of 453 m. It included the same Fremantle issue as the “safer route” plus added another less desirable section further along the route for no gain. The rest of the route was the “safer route” so in effect the “safe route” was a poor alternative to the “safer route.” The “direct route” came in at 42.1 km with a time estimate of 157 – 209 minutes and an elevation gain of 344 m. This route followed my normal route (other than the Fremantle section) until about the 2/3 mark when it attempted to follow a convoluted route to bring me back out on the PSP and hence to my destination. Compared to my normal cycle route it really added no benefit and in fact added some complications wiggling from the coast to the freeway for no gain. As to be able to export the route, there is an option to print the route, email the route or rate the route but not to download it to your GPS. So for me Ride the City – Perth whilst having a cleaner and more advanced user interface than BBBike@Perth and to a lesser extent than Google Maps, its lack of an ability to download to GPS is a deal breaker.
Cycle Route Planning with OptiMap – Fastest Roundtrip Solver
OptiMap is a neat website particularly useful for solving the “traveling salesman problem.” The focus on the website is coming up with the fast one way or round trip route for the cyclist or walker going to one or more destinations. That is it. Its focus is all about getting to the destination in the fastest possible time.
Cycle Route Planning with the Department of Transport – Maps and Guides
If you like the idea of a paper map or guides the Department of Transport is your best option. At the Department of Transport website they have cycling maps and guides, local travelsmart guides (maps) as well as walking guides, brochures and maps.
Cycling Maps and Guides
This section is broken down into commuter maps, recreational maps, and regional maps as well as instructions on ordering hard copies. You can also download most of the maps and guides as PDF copies if that suits you better.
Commuter Maps: Perth bike maps are available to be purchased in hardcopy from bicycle shops and the like or you can view them online in PDF format. The five Perth bike maps cover the following areas:
- Perth Fremantle and Stirling
- Canning – Armadale
- Cockburn – Rockingham
Personally I find these maps too big and printed in a way to be pretty difficult to use and hence as a rule don’t bother with them. Three strip maps are also provided for three of the four major PSP routes in Perth:
- Cycling between Perth and Fremantle
- Cycling between Perth and Midland
- Cycling between Rockingham and Perth
Recreational Maps: In addition to the commuter maps, several maps and guides for recreational cycling around the Perth metropolitan area, including Kings Park, Yellagonga Regional Park, Swan Valley, and the Perth Hills are available for download. These are: City to Sea – The city-to-sea “greenway” is a shared path for cycling and walking that follows a series of reserves and park land from the Perth train station to City Beach. The route is approximately 12 km long and takes about 45 min to complete at a leisurely pace. Kings Park – Kings Park and Botanic Garden remains a favourite recreational destination among both residents and visitors to Perth. There is number of cycling trails to explore within the park, as well as many that lead to the park from surrounding areas. Your bicycle ride does not need to begin when you arrive in the park. You could integrate part of your journey into it as well. The Ride to the Park guide provides information and a map of seven bicycle routes to Kings Park from:
- Shenton Park Train Station
- Daglish Train Station
- Subiaco Train Station
- City West Train Station
- Perth Train Station
- Esplanade Train Station
- Kwinana Freeway.
The Perth and Kings Park by bike guide also covers the shared paths in and around Kings Park and along the banks of the Perth section of the Swan River. Perth Hills – The Perth Hills is a popular area for group training rides, particularly during spring. The quiet roads, steep gradients and beautiful scenery make an ideal training ground for competitive riders. The Ride through the Hills guide describes three scenic routes through the Darling Range, on the eastern edge of the Perth metropolitan area:
- Midland–Mundaring Weir Loop
- Kalamunda–Bickley Loop
- Armadale–Roleystone–Dams Loop.
The Cycle Perth’s Eastern Region series also provides 2 guides of the Perth Hills. The Perth Hills ride guide covers on-road bicycle routes around the Shires of Kalamunda and Mundaring. The Mountain bike rides guide covers mountain bike trails in a loop starting and ending in Midland. Ride Around the Rivers – A 50km circuit the Ride around the rivers route goes around the Swan and Canning rivers using mostly shared pathways and minor roads. It is divided into 12 sections that are suitable for both recreational and competitive cyclists:
- Causeway to Narrows Bridge
- Narrows Bridge to Nedlands
- Nedlands to Mosman Park
- Mosman Park to Fremantle
- Fremantle to Point Walter
- Point Walter to Applecross
- Applecross to the Narrows Bridge
- Narrows Bridge to the Causeway
- Canning Bridge to Mt Henry Bridge
- Mt Henry Bridge to Riverton Bridge
- Riverton Bridge to Woodloe’s Homestead
- Causeway to Garvey Park
You can also download the Cycle Perth’s Eastern Region series guide to the Swan River, which covers the eastern part of the river, including:
- Scenic foreshore reserves
- Town of Bassendean
- City of Bayswater
- City of Belmont
Burswood Park also offers several trails around the Swan River. Visit the Burswood Park website for details on the Heritage Trail and jogging trail and cycleway. Sunset Coast is a ride route with the glorious Indian Ocean as a backdrop. Some of the sights along the route include:
- Sorrento Quay
- Scarborough Beach
- Cottesloe Boardwalk
- Coogee Park Lands
The 55km ride can be completed in either a southerly or northerly direction. For most of the year, the prevailing southerly wind, known as the Fremantle Doctor makes riding southwards more difficult. Swan Valley and Guildford – A network of bicycle trails in the Swan Valley enables cyclists to immerse themselves in the unique culture, and enjoy the wineries, micro-breweries, distilleries, confectionery factories and craft shops. Most of the trails are within easy reach of the Guildford train station, for the convenience of Perth residents and visitors. The link above has some great bike trails and provides more information on some of the great routes available, including:
- Meet the Winemaker Trail
- Swan Valley Heritage Trail
- West Swan Road Ride and detours
- Swan Valley Food and Wine Loop
You can also download the Cycling in the Swan Valley and Guildford guide, which contains a map and detailed information on these four routes, and the Cycle Perth’s Eastern Region guide of the Swan Valley provides two riding trails in Perth’s ‘Valley of Taste’:
- Guildford to the Swan Valley
- Eastern Swan Valley
Whiteman Park is a popular destination for families, with many attractions including a wildlife park and many picnic areas. Ride from the Guildford Station to Whiteman Park is a step-by-step guide with a map of the bicycle route from the train station to the park. Yellagonga Regional Park is an ideal place for a range of leisure, recreational and physical activities, with a variety of facilities including barbeques, picnic tables, viewing platforms and seating. It is very popular with cyclists, and has a network of shared paths for walking and cycling. The park is approximately 13 km long and 1–1.5 km wide, covering 1400 hectares. It houses a chain of wetlands including Lake Joondalup, Beenyup and Walluburnup Swamps, Lake Goollelal and the surrounding parkland areas.
- Perth Bike Paths is a great website providing details on alternative cycling options in Perth. Particularly useful for the recreational cyclist.