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FAQ

Are there any options to avoid certain types of path?

Yes! We now have a ‘paved only’ option, which avoids all gravel, earth and other unpaved surfaces. This takes up a whole bunch of memory on our servers, but so many people asked for it, we thought it was worthwhile. 

The fast speed of our route-planner works means that it isn’t feasible to add lots more options: basically, the speed comes from precalculating all the best routes, which requires more memory, which means more expensive servers. But we aim to make it easy for you to adjust the route (by dragging) if there are sections you want to avoid.

Alternatively, you can turn the route-planner off between any two points, by clicking the first of the points and choosing ‘Go direct’ to the next one. This means you can plan a short stretch on a busy road even if cycle.travel doesn’t recommend it.

(If you want to read up on the maths behind cycle.travel’s super-fast routing algorithm, it’s known as Contraction Hierarchies.)

Can you add more countries?

As explained above, the fast speed of our route-planner is very hardware-intensive. In other words, adding more countries means renting more expensive servers!

We launched as UK-only; since then, we’ve gradually expanded our coverage to include the rest of Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand.

(We also believe in doing things properly. We have custom routing rules for different countries – we don’t just apply the same rules to every country, as most route-planners do.)

Does cycle.travel have a mobile app?

We’re developing an iPhone app at the moment and plan for it to be available in early 2020, with Android to follow afterwards.

Does cycle.travel have an API?

Our costs are covered by advertising, the commission from hotel bookings, and support from users, so we can’t offer a free routing API. However, if you do want to use our mapping and routing, drop us a line and we can chat.

If you’re looking for custom development work on cycle routing or cartography, our editor Richard Fairhurst would be delighted to talk to you. If you are looking for an off-the-shelf UK cycle routing API, we recommend you talk to the lovely people at CycleStreets. If you are looking for map tiles, talk to the equally nice people at Thunderforest.

How can I support cycle.travel?

Thank you! You can make a donation to us via Patreon. But you can also help by spreading the word about cycle.travel to your fellow cyclists.

Unlike many other route-planners, we don’t have external funding from venture capitalists – we’re entirely independent. So your support makes a big difference.

I have more questions!

No problem. Ask away at our forum.

On your phone

When you use cycle.travel on a mobile phone, you’ll find a few things are different to make best use of the limited screen space.

Click ‘Map’ as usual, and you’ll see a bar at the bottom of the screen with four sections: Map, Directions, Routes (for your saved routes), and Share (to save or download a GPS, or find accommodation).

Plotting a route

You can tap to add your start and end points as usual. If you want to add more points, double-tap on the screen.

Opening your route in another app

You’ll need to install an app that can open GPX files. There are many, but try:

Then back in cycle.travel, plan your route (and save it) and click the GPS button. This is under the ‘Share’ option at the bottom of the map screen on your phone. (Alternatively, if you don’t see a ‘Share’ option, click the three-line button on the left of the map and the GPS button is there.) Choose ‘Download GPX track’.

The route will be downloaded to your phone. It may open automatically in your app, or be downloaded to the Files area of your phone, from where you can click ‘Open in MapOut’ or something similar.

Is there a cycle.travel app?

Not quite yet – but we’re just finalising our iPhone app! Android will follow later.

Route-planner help

Find out more about how to use cycle.travel’s map and cycle route planner.

The basics

It’s this easy:

Adding more points

If the route doesn’t go the way you want, you can simply drag it. A new numbered ‘via point’ will appear.

You can also extend the route by clicking points on the map. On desktop: Tick the option on the left that says ‘Click map to add more points’, then click at the new end of your route. On mobile: Quickly double-tap the new end of your route.

You can remove a via point by clicking on it and selecting ‘Remove via’ in the popup.

Finding by address

You can type street or town names for the start/end of your route. A pop-up menu will appear as you type – choose the matching place. Click ‘Get route’ when you’ve chosen the start and end.

Our map data comes from OpenStreetMap. OSM doesn’t usually have house numbers recorded, so just type the street without a number.

You can add a via point at a named place, too. Click ‘Add at…’ and type the name.

On a road bike?

cycle.travel aims to choose a balanced route that prefers smooth surfaces, but will sometimes go off-pavement to avoid hills, busy roads or long detours.

If you’re on a road bike, you might prefer to stay on tarmac at all times. Flick the switch from ‘Paths & roads’ to ‘Paved only’ to change this. (On mobile, just click the word ‘Any’ and it’ll change to ‘Paved’.)

A planner, not a plotter

To get the best out of cycle.travel, remember that it’s a route-planner more than a plotter. In other words, its aim is to find you a great route from A to B, not to draw a route you already know. (There are lots of other sites that do that!)

Round-trips

Journeys don’t have to be A–B: you can plan circular round-trips too. Choose your start and end points as per usual, then click ‘Round-trip’. cycle.travel will try to find you a different return journey. (Note that sometimes it won’t be different, particularly on short journeys or in areas with few roads.)

Route ideas

Or if you just want a ride but you don’t mind where, cycle.travel can do that too. Click just one start place on the map, or type it next to ‘From:’, then click ‘Suggest a ride’. Up to three circular routes will show on the map:

Choose the one you want by clicking on it.

Unpaved sections

All things being equal, cycle.travel prefers paved routes. But if a dedicated cycleway is unpaved, or it’d save a stretch on a busy or hilly road, cycle.travel will sometimes choose an unpaved route instead.

On the basemap, unpaved trails are shown with brown dots or dashes; unpaved roads have dashed edges. When you plan a route, the unpaved sections are highlighted in green, contrasting with the usual blue.

If you want to stick to paved sections only, then change the toggle beneath the from/to places. You can even restrict just the section between two via points to paved-only: click the first via point to bring up a popup, and change ‘Go any way’ to ‘paved’.

Saving your route

You’ll need a (free) account on cycle.travel to save your route. You can create an account by clicking ‘Log in to save routes’, or at the top of the page, ‘My bike’. If you have a Facebook or Twitter account, you can log in with that.

Once your account is set up, you can just click ‘Save’ to give your route a name and save it. Your routes are listed on the left of the screen; on the ‘Routes’ tab on mobile; and under ‘My bike > Journeys’.

Stick to tarmac with our new routing option

Since launching cycle.travel in 2013, we’re delighted to have become the route-planner of choice for thousands of bike tourers, recreational riders and city commuters.

But our number one requested feature has always been from road bikers – who love cycle.travel’s routing on quiet lanes and cycleways, but want a guarantee that they’ll never be sent off-road onto gravel or earth.

That day is now here. You can now choose “paved only” when planning your route, and cycle.travel will stick to asphalt roads, cycleways and bikeable paths. Just click the new toggle switch:

All our route-planner features are still usable in paved mode – route suggestions, round-trips, draggable via points – and it’s as fast as ever. Better still, you can switch between route types during a journey: just set a via point, then click that point and choose ‘paved’ or ‘any way’.

Head over to our map and route-planner to get started.

You can now support cycle.travel!

Our route-planner and maps are always free to use. Several users have asked for a way to support the site.

If you’d like to show your support, you can now make a donation via Patreon, the number one site for supporting online creators. All supporters will get a regular monthly newsletter with the latest news, tips and reflections from cycle.travel.

cycle.travel expands to Scandinavia and Eastern Europe

You can now use cycle.travel to plan a route anywhere in Europe – from the Adriatic to the Baltic and beyond.

We’ve expanded our map and route-planner to include Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. It’s all with the same lightning-fast route-planner that hates busy roads and loves quiet lanes and cycleways. You can plan a round-trip from Athens to Norway’s North Cape in seconds – a full 6,819 miles there and back. Try it!

We’re always fine-tuning our calculations to ensure the best routing. The latest changes, now rolled out across the whole of Europe and North America, include special logic to avoid really steep hills; smarter routing away from busy multi-lane roads in cities; and clearer turn instructions in rural areas. We also tweak our routing in specific regions to take account of local cycling characteristics: recent changes here include better handling of London’s new Quietway routes, and a more sceptical approach to several US states where designated cycle routes follow busy, dangerous routes. Meanwhile, we’ve also updated our cartography to have clearer, more attractive hillshading.

Countless bike tourists are now using cycle.travel to plan cycling expeditions across Europe and North America. The feedback from cyclists who’ve had happy holidays following a cycle.travel route is the best part of running the site (check out this 33-page thread on the Cycling UK forum) – thank you all so much for your support. Our traffic for 2018 is up almost 100% on 2017 and we have big plans for 2019, so stay tuned!

Our newly added countries are:

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