Tag Archive | maps

Ride the City – Toronto Edition

by Ben

Upon hearing news that Google maps now had biking directions,  I was elated.  Upon hearing it was only in major U.S. cities, I was deflated.  And then, lo and behold, I was elated again upon learning that Ride the City just released bike directions for Toronto.

After playing around with it a little my overall impressions are positive.  Here’s the suggested “safe route” given for my work commute:

Can’t say I disagree.  Choosing the most direct route actually takes me a little further than I need to go, but there isn’t really a way for the app to read my mind.  Yet.  The ability to choose between safety levels is nice, and will also be useful when I feel like a scenic weekend ride rather than a hurdy-gurdy pedal to work ride.

The map layout is nice and the overall map has an appealing feel to it.  But one of the coolest bits to the map, and something I haven’t seen yet, is the addition of underground walkways (check out Bay and Bloor).  It appears this is the result of the base mapping program, OpenStreetMap.org, which is pretty cool in it’s own right.  Maybe I can finally figure out Toronto’s PATH system.

So, this will do for now.  Once Google gets around to Canada I can compare then.


More Mapping Fun

Jimsey Made This!

Previously I blogged about the Chicago Police Department’s CLEARmap website. Now I want to give a shout-out to a website that ties in a few more sources.

Today’s topic is EveryBlock. Currently available in 15 US cities (sorry Canada).

While the Chicago PD site incorporated crime and reporting data wonderfully, EveryBlock attempts to pull quite a few more sources together. EveryBlock themselves divides this information primarily into four sections: Civic, News & Blogs, Fun from the Web (Craig’s, Yelp, Flickr, etc.) & Announcements.

Information is gathered and grouped on the usual suspect levels: Address (radius based), Zip or Neighborhood.  If you’ll observe the attached screenshot of the drop down, you’ll see quite a few areas that information can appear in. You can mainly view the information in a day-by-day log, or click “overview” to fetch the latest tidbits for all the categories. Personally this guy with two thumbs prefers the overview.

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Mapping Happy Government

(not to be confused with Mappy the crime fighting(?) mouse)

I like maps. I like when governments post maps with key information that they own.  I’m always happy to learn about public entities that are map happy.

Recently, I was happy to learn about the Chicago Police Department’s CLEARmap website. First of all, someone actually took the time to come up with an acronym that worked, Citizen Law Enforcement Analysis and Reporting (the CLEAR), so that scores a few points with me. I suppose it’s better than Sexy Maps Are Really Terrific (SMARTmaps).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not some city-folk, craving data on crimes and other incidents in my neighborhood. I’m not out to see how “dangerous” my neighborhood is. I already live here, I already walk the streets the daily and I feel perfectly safe at any hour. However, its perhaps a little different seeing them here, on a map with a semi-physical location instead of in some newspaper’s crime blotter (just where in the heck is the 4600 block of S Bishop anyway?). I say semi-physical, because for as far as I can tell police only report crimes on the block level, instead of the specific address. I’m sure there’s some privacy dealie here going on.

The first map I pulled up was the Crime Incidents Map. This is what I refer to it being a little odd seeing the physical locations. For example, I’m not suddenly going to be afraid to hang out for a bus at W North and N Ashland (upper right).  On a sad note, there’s no prostitutes in my neighborhood. Speaking of crimes, I swear what I’m downloading on Bit Torrent is perfectly legal.

(All Images given smaller thumbnails to preserve the full details when you click to expand)

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It’s hard to live in the city

When I’m not moonlighting as a millionaire-playboy transit enthusiast, I have a day job as a mild-mannered policy analyst.  Sometimes, however, my alter egos overlap and I find some pretty cool stuff.

I came across this research from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Services when I attended a presentation by one of the authors, Dr. Richard Glazier.  The study utilizes a whole whack of data, ranging from Stats Can to City of Toronto GIS data.  It looks at diabetes prevalence across Toronto, and adds a whole bunch of fun map layers.

Most interesting is the links that are drawn between diabetes prevalence and how the urban form contributes to it.  The authors developed a measure termed the “Activity Friendly Index (AFI).”  Basically it combines a number of indicators (crime rates, income levels, car dependency, land use) which can be used to rate an area on how easy it is to be healthy.

The result? The lower the AFI score, the worse health problems an area will have.  Check out some of these maps.

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Printing Custom Google Maps

If you are anything like me (and for your mothers sake I hope not) then you love making maps with Google (like here). I am still very much a neophyte compared to what some can do with Google Maps, but I’ve often found myself wanting to print some of my creations to take with me.

Anyone who has tried to print a custom map will find that it leaves something to be desired. For example, I make a lot of maps that flag places of interest in cities (bars, restaurants, points of interest) and want to be able to print the map with corresponding labels. Google just doesn’t do a solid enough job for me.

How do I take my custom Google map get in an easy to print format, you ask?

Well, I use the Google mymaps converter. This delightful piece of code uses the the KML code in your google map (right-click on the little KML guy  ( ) and copy the link location.  Then you paste that into the mymaps converter and, boom, you get a printer friendly little map complete with a legend.

I love people who are smarter than me and can make stuff like this.

Toronto Transit Maps

I’ve had some time recently to putter around with my various Toronto-related Google maps.  I enjoy Gmaps for a number of reasons, but chiefly because making my own maps allows me to remember cool places to visit that I read about or stumble across.

With my recent move to Toronto, I very quickly learned that the Toronto Transit Commission’s website maps are woefully inadequate.  As a newbie trying to find your way around, your options are either a fast loading map of the subway that gives you little context, or a behemoth PDF of the whole transit system which takes forever to load and re-load each time you move around on it.

But what if I want to know which stop is closest to the bar or restaurant I’m going to?  Outta luck.

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