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Tech

Toronto cycling apps

Posted by Derek Flack / March 28, 2011

Toronto Cycling AppsToronto cycling apps won't be at their most useful until this pesky snow/ice makes its complete departure in the coming days, but because spring has technically sprung, it's about time to review the ones out there designed to aid local riders. Unfortunately the apps currently on the market are all designed for the iPhone, which is why it's fortunate that Google finally implemented cycling directions on their Toronto maps last year. These might not be as snazzy and function-rich as some of the apps below, but they get the basic job done.

As more apps enter the market, we'll update this post accordingly.

Toronto Bike Map
Toronto Bike MapPrice: Free
Main functions: Maps, directions, bike lane/path identification
Review: Given that it's free, there's not much to dislike about this app. Spotting bike lanes and paths is easy thanks to its colour-coded identification system. The recent addition of directions (which come courtesy of Google) is also useful, though the fact that these aren't offered via text or in a step-by-step version might make them a bit difficult to follow if you're in an area that you don't know very well or if you're taking a route that involves lots of turns.

Ride the City
Ride the City AppPrice: $2.99
Main functions: Maps, directions, nearby bike stores, multiple cities.
Review: This is the Cervelo of cycling apps. Not only do I find Ride the City's directions the best around (thanks mostly to user feedback), but from a functionality standpoint, this app has the most on offer. In addition to directions (offered in both map and text form), users can pull up a list of nearby bike stores if they're in need of a fix. But perhaps the best part is that your $2.99 gets you these features in over 20 international cities, something that'd be super useful for those inclined to vacation/travel with their bikes.

BikeFixTO
BikeFixTOPrice: $0.99
Main functions: Store location service
Review: This app does one thing, and it does it well. Should you need to find a bike store, it'll show you how to get there. While there are no directions per se (something that Ride the City has), by plotting all the stores out on a main map, it's pretty easy to plot your route. Also nice is the inclusion of operating hours and a photo of the store (so you know what you're looking for). For more info, check out our original review. For something similar that's freely available on the web, check out BikeFixFinder

Bixou Lite
BixouPrice: Free
Main functions: Information on closest BIXI stands, bike availability, multi-city support
Review: Although this is not yet available for Toronto's BIXI fleet (which won't arrive until May), expect the app to updated soon after BIXI's official launch. And if you're a BIXI member or someone who expects to use the bike sharing program occasionally, this is a virtual must have. As great as the directions to the closest BIXI stand are, the key feature here is the info on how many bikes are available at a given location, information that'll help you determine both where to pick up and drop off a bike. If you're a regular visitor to Montreal, it's also nice that the free version of the app gives tracking info for all participating BIXI cities.

Lead image by DdotG in the blogTO Flickr pool.

Discussion

14 Comments

Steve / March 28, 2011 at 02:07 pm
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I have the Toronto Bike Map. It's great when looking at the map (Google makes it very easy), but the directions leave something to be desired.

I work at VP/Steeles need to head to Little India. When I plug that into the system, it doesn't put me on any bike-friendly streets, it tells me to head straight down Victoria Park to Danforth. That's a scary proposition when on the border of northern Scarborough. Hopefully a new direction system comes soon.
Amy Cooney / March 28, 2011 at 02:24 pm
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I wish they made these for Blackberries.
Steve / March 28, 2011 at 02:28 pm
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... wow.
agentsmith / March 28, 2011 at 02:39 pm
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I hope you mean that Vic Park is just not a bike-friendly street, rather than the area is so sketchy that you fear for your life or something... otherwise you better go home and hide under your bed, cause Toronto is just way too scary for you.

Also, if you know of any other street nearby that goes from Steeles all the way down to Gerard, I'd like to hear it. Did you really need an app to tell you this route?
Steve / March 28, 2011 at 02:47 pm
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That's exactly what I mean. Bussing down Vic Park has buses bouncing off the curb repeatedly during the trip, high speed traffic that you don't have downtown. I grew up in Scarborough, I used to bike around the area and attest to how much more secure I feel downtown. Is this really so difficult to tell in what I said to the point that everyone has to be abusive and snarky?

Using the app, listing bike lanes, trails and paths, I CAN get down there without having to stare down trucks. I wanted to know what options I had, and I figure that an app for bike lanes would offer the availability to say "You can take the six-lane street, or you COULD take this bike-friendly one."

Maybe I should just go home and hide under my bed, though, since clearly wanting to bike safely is something to be mocked.
Rich / March 28, 2011 at 02:52 pm
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It's worth noting that Ride the City has an iphone-friendly web interface, too:

http://www.ridethecity.com/iphone/toronto

Not as fancy as the app, but the same good directions and free. (And Steve, that's where you'll find your "you COULD take this bike-friendly one" option.)
Steve replying to a comment from Rich / March 28, 2011 at 02:56 pm
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Oh, that totally looks like what I'd want.

But does it show me how to pee like a woman, because apparently that's required.

(Even the direct route here doesn't go straight down VP, so that's fantastic)
Kelly / March 28, 2011 at 03:07 pm
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Disappointing that these are all iPhone apps, and that this isn't even mentioned in the article. Considering the market share of Android, you'd think that at least ONE would be mentioned (even if only Google Map's ability to layer bike lanes on top of Latitude, something maybe not everyone with a Droid knows)
Fig / March 28, 2011 at 03:31 pm
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Kelly - you might have missed it but the article does say: "Unfortunately the apps currently on the market are all designed for the iPhone.
Rainer replying to a comment from Kelly / March 28, 2011 at 03:32 pm
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I suggest you re-read the intro to the article. How is it possible to miss the fact that the guy mentions both things you're complaining about?
Genessa / March 28, 2011 at 04:41 pm
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Vic Park to and from Steeles biking is fine until you cross Danforth. Its the suburbs - people change lanes to pass the cyclists as they are few and far between north of St. Clair. Its like everyone is afraid to pass you. Downtown cycling is way worse, cars pass a speed etc. or learn to take the lane http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/pubs/cycling-guide/section5.0.shtml #147 is my favorite.
Arieh Singer / March 28, 2011 at 05:26 pm
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I've also been using Cyclemeter - http://www.abvio.com/cyclemeter/ - while riding lately. While not Toronto specific, it's a great way to map your ride on a Google map, and log your KM's, speed, ride time, etc.
Jack Spalding / March 29, 2011 at 01:55 pm
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Why is everyone so angry? Tom Winkler, take your little man out of your mouth for a second and stop being such an ass. Agentsmith, why don't you spend your time making critical points that are either informative or helpful instead of being a complete dick. Rainer, learn how to count, she only complains about one thing, two point on the same subject. Learn how to read.
Ryan / March 30, 2011 at 12:27 pm
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I'll second Cyclemeter. It's pretty fun, though the GPS does drain your phone battery, making it less than ideal for really long rides. (I really don't want a dead iphone when I'm 3 hours from home and possibly who-knows how far from transit or a payphone.) Much cheaper than a serious bike computer.

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