A common charge car drivers hurl at GPS
systems is that they're unnecessary for anyone with maps and the brains to use them. But what about cyclists using unfamiliar bike lanes? The Dutch cyclists union ENFB has started a volunteer effort to map the numerous bike lanes for GPS, many of which are inaccessible by cars and thus not used by navigation companies like Navteq. States project leader Kees Bakker, "This is really a Dutch problem. Other countries have very few dedicated bike lanes and in those countries car route finders can be used by cyclists, too. But here in Holland, car route finders are unaware of the best cycle lanes."
Mapping bike routes are more difficult than mapping roads. The volunteers have to note, for example, if the lane surface is hard or a dirt road. Surrounding scenery and how well lit is the lane are also important tidbits for the GPS maps. And with the goal to map the entire country, it's not a small project, either. The volunteers, though, enjoy it and love meeting to discuss their favorite routes.
Related: From cameras to Vision (software): How GPS companies map the world
[Source: Reuters via Washington Post]