Planning your bike route isn't just about getting from point A to B. There’s a lot of personal choice that goes into what type of ride you want to have and there are many things to consider when it comes to planning your two-wheeled journey.
Choosing a comfortable route for you will depend on a number of factors. Parents out riding with kids will have different criteria than those making a daily dash to work. Consider your personal preferences, comfort with traffic and available time. A meandering route through a trail network may be great for a Sunday cycle but may be too time consuming when you have to pedal it out to make a meeting.
One of the first steps to planning a route includes finding the cycling infrastructure that is available near you. A quick Google search for "[municipality name] cycling map" should help you find trails, bike lanes and cycle tracks in your neighbourhood. You can then use those when mapping out your route.
You can start to map out your route by using the bike function on Google Maps. When you type your home and school addresses you can tell Google how you’ll be travelling. Click the bike icon to get the route best suited to someone riding a bike, which will sometimes give you the option of riding on trails and multi use paths.
The altitude map on the bottom left hand corner will also tell you if there are any hills on the route. You can hover your cursor around a spike in altitude and it will show you where on the map the hill is located. That way, you can find a way to avoid the hill.
Once you have an idea of what the route will look like, try testing it out on a day when you don't have anywhere to be so that you can take your time. You can send the Google Maps link to your phone or you can print it out so that you can mark down any potential problem areas along the ride, if it's a route that you'd like to take regularly. If you're looking to establish a route to school with your child, try checking in with your kid while you’re riding to see how they feel about the route. If they say they feel uncomfortable try a route that might use more familiar or quieter residential streets. If there are any fun landmarks along the way like an interesting statue or a brightly coloured house, try incorporating them into the route so your kid will know to look for them if they try the ride one their own. When the route is finalized you can ride a few more times with your kid so that they know what to expect before they start riding on their own.