Google Maps Bike There…for a safer, healthier, happier world. :-)



June 15, 2008 By: Peter Smith Category: Bicycle Maps

About three and a half months ago, we received an email from Markus Heller (English) of Berlin, Germany. He mentioned that there was a great bicycle directions tool available for Berlin, and that it was called BBBike (English language version here). We wrote back and said something like, “Thanks! We’ll be sure to check it out!”

Well, I’m not sure if I ever checked it out. It’s possible, but I don’t remember it.

So, apologies to you, Markus (and to the developer(s) of BBBike), and thanks!

[Markus seems to be pretty heavily involved in the carfree living movement, which is very cool. The one word that excites me as much as bicycle is car-free. Check out his website/organization, autofrei wohnen (in English), which I believe stands for car-free living. And don't forget the Towards Carfree Cities 2008 conference going on starting Monday, June 16, in Portland, Oregon, and lasts all week. And big score if they can manage to pull off the live webcast. This looks like it's going to be a great event.]

I just happened to be going back through my Gmail inbox and stumbled upon our initial conversation and I quickly realized that I’d overlooked a very important site. I noticed it this time because John Pucher mentioned the existence of such a site, if not by name, in his presentation. The initial notes I took while listening to the talk looked approximately like this:

  • Bicycle route mapping (in Berlin, Germany)!!! This is the text from the relevant slide:
    • Free internet bike trip planning in Berlin:
    • Cyclists enter origin, intermediate stops and final destinations of their intended bike trips.
    • Cyclists can indicate preferences:
      - desired speed of travel
      - direct arterial streets or secondary roads
      - type of pavement
      - volume, speed and mix of traffic
      - on-street lanes, off-street paths, parkways

If I had realized what Markus had sent a few months ago, I would have been very excited. But, I’m just happy to know it’s out there and helping people, and helping to push the boundaries of what is possible for bicycle directions.

Here is a screenshot of the web version of BBBike:

BBBike Web Interface Screenshot

I tried BBBike and it definitely seems cool; seems like it works pretty well. There is an online web version, and there is a downloadable version, too (screenshots). I only tried the online option. I just started picking random starting and end points and then looked at the routes produced. I can’t say for sure that it was picking the correct routes—either the safest or fastest or whatever—but I was very impressed that it seemed to route me on greenways, through parks, and so forth. It allows you download all the GPS information for your mobile device, and can produce a map as an image, as a Google Map, and more.

And, as far as I can tell, it’s completely open source, so you can download and modify it. I perused the source code (mostly in PERL), and it seems very clean and readable. There aren’t many comments in the code, but that might even be a good thing—me trying to decipher German would not be pretty. :) I can’t say the source code made a whole lot of sense to me, as I’m still a novice with all this GIS mapping technology stuff, but I definitely think it’s cool that it’s there to download and modify if we want, etc.

The also appears to be various sorts of extensions and plugins for BBBike—for CMS software like Mambo, for web browsers like Firefox, and more. In short, it seems like BBBike has been around for a while and is a solid, mature, sophisticated offering. I mean, it can deal with wind speed and tell you how many traffic lights you have to go through on your journey. How ridiculous is that? Brilliant stuff. It’s the least that cyclists (and pedestrians) deserve.

Contact information for the author of the code/project is below, in German (possibly with a Croatian address (?), but here is an English translation):

Autor: Slaven Rezic
Telefon: +49-172-1661969
Donji Crnač 81, BiH-88220 Široki Brijeg

So, thanks to you, Slaven!

There’s a link to the ADFC Berlin (English) - what seems like the “German/Dutch Bicycle Club.” (Don’t quote me on that translation.) I always think it’s great to see people in countries all around the world working on the same issues we’re working on.

3 Comments to “BBBike”

  1. Very sophisticated! I wonder where they get their bike route data.
    ADFC = Nationwide German Bicycle Club (more or less)

  2. Slaven Rezic says:

    The URL has changed! The site is now available under

  3. Slaven Rezic says:

    @Jack: this is the result of riding several 10000 kilometers through Berlin :-)


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