Worried that getting around the city could be the toughest event of the 2010 Winter Games? Thousands of athletes and visitors, along with road and parking restrictions, will all contribute to increased congestion in Metro Vancouver. A UBC research team is encouraging people to use their bikes to get around, and they’ve designed a special web-based tool to help cyclists plan hassle-free trips.
The route planner, located at www.cyclevancouver.ubc.ca, was first launched in spring 2008 and has become popular with local cyclists (and pedestrians, who find it useful for planning walking routes). Now, it is being updated to reflect all known Olympics-related road restrictions, so that cyclists can find efficient ways to get to their destination. The Olympics edition of the route planner launches this month, and will be available throughout the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“Besides being able to plan a route that isn’t affected by road restrictions, users can also choose routes that avoid hills, stick to designated cycle paths, or connect with public transit,” says UBC researcher Meghan Winters, who helped develop the planner. The web-based tool, which uses the familiar Google Maps interface, also shows the location of covered bike storage facilities near Olympic venues.
Funding for the Olympics version of the route planner comes from the City of Vancouver and TransLink. Michael Brauer, professor at the UBC School of Environmental Health and leader of the route planner project, says that choosing to cycle during the Olympics contributes to both personal and environmental health: “Active transportation provides health benefits for individuals, and also cuts down on the amount of traffic-related air pollution in our region.”