30 Mar 2009

Last week, I ended up at the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA twin cities) MapServer User Group and Twin Cities Open Source Geo Chapter. After Googling for a little bit, I did not find any good examples, but from what I understand GIS and Minnesota have a rich history. Anyway, the meeting was great. Reid Priedhorsky, a computer science graduate student at the University of Minnesota, came by to give a presentation on Cyclopath, for which he is a project manager.

What is a Geo-Wiki?

Well, a wiki, in the computer world is usually a web application that can be easily edited by a large audience. It usually means that the users of the site, have control over what content is on the site. Wikipedia is the largest and most successful example.

The term geowiki is a fairly new concept; in fact it was new to me, just until last week. But the idea is pretty straightforward; it brings together the idea of a wiki and applies it to a map (or other GIS). This means that a map, more specifically, it’s features becomes easily editable to a large audience. For instance, you can add a new street, or note a really nice view.

The most widely known and used geowiki may be Open Street Map,

What is Cyclopath?

Cyclopath is a geowiki geared towards bicycling in the Twin Cities area, and is being built by GroupLens Research, a research group at the University of Minnesota. It allows anyone to edit the features on a map of the Twin Cities. Yes, anyone! The main goal of the free editing is to put the power of determining the best bike routes and features in to the hands of the bikers in the Twin Cities.

You can create an account, though there is no need to, and the main map is here.


So, maybe you don’t really care about editing map. Still, one of the main awesome features is figuring out biking routes around the cities. On the left of the map, there is a section called routes. Choose Find New Route and follow the instructions. It should find you a bike-friendly route.


Routes are cool. But I think the editing is even cooler. There is too much to go over in this article. But play around.

  • The main actions are the big buttons in the top right.
  • The term blocks refers to any feature, such as line or point, and there are block details on the left.
  • You can also define Watch Regions which are sections of the map, where you can get emails of any changes.
  • There is also a revision system, so you can revert all types of things.


There’s been some great edits to this map, and there are some dedicated users, but there is still room for improvement. Do you know some cool, secret bike routes? Is something wrong on the map? Share the biking love!

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