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New York is a bike-friendly city

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The number of cyclists in NYC is growing; you can see them in masses on the streets. The NYC Department of Transportation estimates the number of bike commuters has grown by 75 percent since 2000. That's great news!

Ride safely, even on the safest routes

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You can never be too safe on the bike. Last Sunday I (Vaidila) was stopped at a red light in Manhattan (at Broadway/Spring) waiting for the green (like a good cyclist). All of a sudden, a yellow cab fails to stop in time and tags me from behind, smashing my wheel.

busted bike wheel

The moral of the story: You might be doing everything right on your bike, but drivers aren't always paying attention. Ride with caution.

Ride The City on Public Radio

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Check out our interview with Richard Hake on WNYC. This is what happens when you put two urban planning nerds in front of a microphone!

Here's the piece: Ride the City on WNYC.

A rainy weekend, perfect for website enhancements

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The rain showers and thunderstorms this weekend gave us the perfect excuse to stay indoors and work on the website. We've listed the major changes below.

Better error handling
Did any of you try to plan a bike route to Jersey City, Yonkers, or Nassau County? If you tried to get to any of these locations -- or to anywhere else that is not in our street network database -- you probably noticed a nasty bug that could only be bypassed with a page refresh. We now handle this exception and a few others more gracefully.

The site now prints a nice, clean set of turn-by-turn directions. As we mentioned earlier, getting the map to print properly is going to take a little more work.

More opportunities for feedback

Bike share at South Street Seaport

So you've got friends in town this summer and you want to show them around the city. Problem is, the best way to see the city is from a bicycle saddle and you don't have any extra bikes in your closet-size studio.

I think there's a solution! You may have read about the new bike sharing program on Governor's Island, but have you heard about the bike sharing program right here in Lower Manhattan? The program is called Bike Around Downtown. According to the website, there are 30 bikes available at South Street Seaport to "rent" for free. You just have to register and then reserve the bike in advance for a block of time.

Thanks for your feedback

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Wow, we were excited to launch Ride the City this weekend. Now that we've started receiving feedback, we're ecstatic.

Thanks for all of the positive comments. We're also pleased with your critiques, suggestions, and corrections. Read on for a few things we've heard that you're going to see changing:

This is probably the most critical item and one we've been working on for a while. Expect a nice, readable set of printed directions in the next week or so. Printing a handsome map may take a bit longer.

Traffic directionality
You may have noticed that Ride the City doesn't send you the wrong way on a one-way street. (If it does please let us know.)

Finding directions to points of interest

Thanks to Google's incredibly smart geocoder, you don't need to know the address or intersection of your favorite destinations. You can type them directly into the to/from address boxes.

Want to ride to Central Park? Type Central Park, NY into the destination address box. Heading up to the George Washington Bridge? Try George Washington Bridge. Making it a beach day? Try Coney Island.

We've done some testing and it works with bridges, parks, neighborhoods, boroughs, airports, colleges and universities, and iconic NYC locales like Times Square. In some cases, you may also need to specify the borough or you'll get a park in Baltimore with the same name.

Find bike shops along your route

Ever need to park your bike at a bike shop to pick up a patch kit, a tube, or get a quick front brake check?

In addition to suggesting a safe route from start to finish, Ride the City shows you where bike shops are located along your route. Click on a bike shop icon (it looks like a sprocket, or gear) and you can see its address, phone number, hours and website. (If you aren't seeing the bike shops, trying zooming in a little closer.)

If you know of bike shops that aren't on the map or if you have a correction for us, please use the feedback form to let us know.

Welcome to Ride the City!

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Welcome to Ride the City, a website that helps you find the safest bike route between any two points in New York City.

The concept is pretty simple. Just like MapQuest, Google, Microsoft, and other mapping programs, Ride the City finds the shortest distance between two points. But there are two major differences. First, RTC excludes roads that aren't meant for biking, like the BQE and the Queens Midtown tunnel. Second, RTC tries to locate routes that maximize the use of bike lanes and greenways.

Here are a few things you might be interested to know:

  1. It's pretty fast! Ride the City searches through more than 125,000 rows in a database of New York City streets every time you run a routing query. We use Dijkstra's shortest-path algorithm with custom weighting based on based on whether a bike lane or greenway exists on a street segment.
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