Tuesday, 31 March 2009


CycleStreets looks rather neat (British understatement). It's a beta status route planning site for UK cyclists, based on Open Street Map. I've tried it out on a few local routes, and it's not perfect, but it is pretty darn good.

No doubt it will get even better as time goes on and the data improves. Already it's the nearest that I've seen to a reliable service, and it is much easier to use than some others.

There is a feedback form for anything that looks squiffy. So why not give it a try? 

I'd suggest double checking anything it suggests by more traditional methods, because automatic route planning for cyclists is supposed to be pretty difficult. But it might suggest a few new ideas, and there should be plenty of scope for tinkering.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Hot crossed buns in chocolate

Bunny Boiling & Buns & from Aldi

What are Aldi thinking of?

Find addresses of top UK bankers

Things have been pretty stressful over the last few weeks, and I've not been getting out on the bike as often as I would like. As a result there is less to post here, and the mileage and my visitor stats are looking a bit sad. So I thought I'd experiment, and see whether a silly title would at least give me a quick boost in visitor numbers. 

If you came here for the obvious reason, then apart from this, I'm afraid the only suggestion I can offer is what I just did this evening.

After a tough day I got on the bike, and worked things out of my system for a hour or so with an  energetic ride of about 20 miles.  It didn't make the world a better place, but at least it felt as though it had. There was not a banker in sight, just families enjoying a lovely spring evening. I got my head sorted out a bit, and I feel a lot better for it. 

Now the clocks have gone forward there should be more evenings when it is feasible to do the same. Which is just as well, because it looks as though I might be needing therapy  fairly regularly  over the next few months. For now though, equilibrium has been restored.

Friday, 27 March 2009


There's quite nice quiz here - but I didn't do very well at it.

Sunday, 22 March 2009


Mapnik rendering has got fast. 

Time was when we used to wait until the next week to see additions appear on Open Street Map. This morning I spent a couple of hours riding out to Beaconsfield, added a few streets, then came home and did the edits after lunch. This evening they are already up there. 

Right now it's not all rendered at the highest zoom levels, but pretty impressive speed none the less.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Illegitimi non carborundum

I just did ten miles this evening, round the country lanes over Winter Hill, but it was a lovely evening for a ride. Sunny and cool, with a (fairly) gentle wind, and very little traffic. 

I almost didn't get the bike out, because I was feeling drained after a difficult day trying to catch up with work, and battling with problems left by a number of idiots and a series of gremlins. 

But wiser council prevailed, and in the end I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

There was nothing remarkable about the ride itself. It's a regular and familiar route. After a few miles when I was shouting at the world inside my head I managed to relax. By the time most of the climb was over, the bile was out of my system, and I was starting to enjoy the views and the exercise.

By the time I got home I had turned around a pig of a day. The voices in my head were sorted out, and I was set up to spend a very pleasant evening. 

Which just goes to prove that you must never let the b******ds grind you down.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Armchair Cycling

Google maps with Streetview has arrived in the UK. Put any prejudices aside - it's no substitute for reality, but it is fun. I've just been watching Newsnight trying to make a controversy out of it, partly by filming vox pops in the street - which seems slightly ironic.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Thomas Gensemer

Thomas Gensemer's company ran Barack Obama's online presidential campaign. This is a talk he gave at City University last month about the way they used new media in general, and email in particular.

A UK general election is inevitable within the next year and a bit, but I find it hard to imagine anything quite like this happening here. Neverthless, for anyone interested in political communication, or concerned about the current level of engagement or standard of the debate it is fascinating stuff. It's pretty long, and not easy to follow, but worth the effort. The main link is here, and the slides are here.

There is more on the same theme from the Guardian here

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Work-life imbalance

It would have been a lovely day for a long ride today, and I would certainly have benefitted from one. Unfortunately we are also approaching the end of the financial year, deadlines are looming, and, once again, I have bitten off more than I can chew by not saying "NO" as often as I should.

So a lot of this weekend has been spent trying to catch up with various work projects. 

However, I did manage to get out for a couple of hours this afternoon. Not enough for a proper stretch, but enough to cover 25 miles, reach an area that is missing from Open Street Map, and trace a few roads to add this evening.

It was all very pleasant, as well as productive. The only thing is that the next unmapped area is now a bit further away.

Friday, 13 March 2009

An apology, of sorts

The average UK household spends 20p a week on bicycles, and 10p a week on bicycle accessories. That works out at a bit more than £15 a year. 

Which means that I've been spending the cycling budget of dozens of families across the UK, and depriving them of all this fun.

What can I say?

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

On routes

This is not a picture of a bike, its a picture of one of the brass medallions that mark the route of the Paris meridian. The bike is in the background. The medallion in the pavement is one of a series that runs straight through the centre of Paris (more-or-less) from the observatory in the south to Montmartre in the north.

I lived near Paris for two years. In those days I didn't have a bike, but following the meridian was one of my favourite walks. In retrospect, a compass might have helped, but without one it was a bit of a challenge to keep on track, and I got childish fun from hunting out the medallions in the pavement. But what I particularly liked was the variety of different neighbourhoods that the meridian passes through: some historic, some on mainstream tourist routes, some posh, and some anything but.

These days I get a similar kick from choosing a good route for the bike. 

The destination normally isn't significant, and in any case (with luck) I end the day back where I started. And any decent route is a stretch because there is a sense of satisfaction covering a good distance. But the fun comes from discovering places that I wouldn't otherwise visit. Variety is the thing, whether fuelled by crumpets or croissants.

Monday, 2 March 2009


For some time, Sunderland has been one of the gaps on the UK Open Street map. It's the city where I was born, and dragged up. But it's a long way from where I live now. So it was a disappointment to me, but not one that I could do much about.

Now things seem to be filling up rapidly. It's good to watch the progress. It reminds me of places that were familiar in my childhood.

So many thanks to those involved.