In London, it is considerably more reliable and accurate than the widely used Google maps, particularly for journeys on the bus and tube. But its cycling feature isn’t noticeably different, and is an area where I think there is room for improvement.
When I cycle somewhere new in London (and having only recently moved to the city, this is quite often), I always plan my journey before hitting the road. I previously lived in New York, where it was easy to orient myself in its hierarchical system of streets and avenues. But in London’s labyrinthine medieval network, navigation is much more difficult.
London has developed an impressive collection of designated cycle routes over the past decade, fancifully named “Cycle Superhighways”. Numerous “Cycle Quietways” complement this network.
These routes are (reasonably) well marked out, with signage, coloured road markings, and designated laneways, not to mention a high volume of cyclists travelling on them
Transport for London have made this data publically available, and it has been uploaded by users to OpenStreetMap, an open license map of the world.
The image opposite, taken from OpenStreetMap, shows my commute broken down as a series of sections within the cycle network. As you can see, almost all of this journey takes place on designated cycle routes.
Referring back to my planned trip on Citymapper, it’s clear how the user experience could be improved by showing designated cycle routes.
Breaking down the journey into a series of constituent sections would allow the user to relate their journey to the cycle routes that are indicated in the real world, reducing the necessity to refer back to the app while cycling.
In my case, I would know that I need to take CS7 as far as Blackfriars Bridge, and then turn onto Q11 for one mile before taking Q13 right to my office door. I would know when to look out for important turns, and when I can simply follow the road markings along a designated route. It would make my journey more straightforward, and encourage me to cycle more often.