Bike-friendly iPhone navigation app ready in iTunes soon

15/08/2010 iPhone App

Bike Hub is the UK bicycle levy scheme. It pays for this website; part of Bike Week; scrummy cash handouts for excellent projects such as Darlovelo’s Beauty and the Bike; and also seed-funded the mega-successful Bike It schools cycling scheme operated by Sustrans.

And the Bike Hub levy is paying for an iPhone app. It will be free in the App Store and will be dead useful. [UPDATE: app is now available on iTunes, and it's free]. It was coded for us by the app company that produced Map My Tracks, the GPS sports performance tracker (as used by the Sky professional bike team). But, unlike Map My Tracks and the plethora of other sports apps out there, the Bike Hub app won’t link to your HRM with ANT+; tell you how many donuts you’ve burnt; or Twitter your cycle ride stats.

Bike Hub Icon 1

It does what no other app can do: it will find you the best cycle route to take. You know, with a bike. Not a car; not on foot; via velo. We think this is pretty cool (as Steve Jobs would say).

And there’s more. If you need a bike fix in a hurry, fire up the app and locate all the bike shops in a six mile radius.

There’s also a news feed from this website, a list of events, and a bunch of feature articles so you’ve got info on your iPhone, no need to scramble Safari.

The cycle routing is done via CycleStreets so is bike-friendly. Want a fast route to a railway station? Choose ‘Quickest’ route and you’ll be directed to your destination via roads (although not dual carriageways or motorways). Don’t care to mingle with motorised traffic? Choose ‘Quietest’ route and the app will use CycleStreets’ OpenCycleMap to guide you along back-streets and, where available and sensible, cycle paths. (The Quietest route also tries to avoid hills for you).

At the weekend we took the office iPhone for a spin to test the app. Six miles from the centre of Newcastle the app was asked for ‘Quietest’ route from Newburn riverside to the National Trust property of Cherryburn five miles away. A car-centric navigation app would know nothing of the Sustrans cycle path by the River Tyne. The Bike Hub knows it, and correctly listed it as route 72. Turn by turn directions were listed on the app, even along the cycle path.

Diverting from route 72 at Prudhoe, the app sent us on a minor roads through to a very short stretch of unavoidable busy road and then to the destination. Pretty darn excellent.

When at Newburn we had also asked for the nearest bike shops. Two seconds later a list of the closest had popped up, including one just a few hundred metres away. This was spot-on info. And so it should be. The bike shop database was provided by the Association of Cycle Traders. The app also gives directions to the shops found.

Now, the app is not yet ready. We’re still working out a few kinks but we’re hoping it could be available within the next 10-14 days. We think it’ll be very popular and, before you ask, yes, an Android version is already being planned.

BikeHub.co.uk is the new website for the Bike Hub levy. It was formerly known as Bikeforall.net. BikeHub.co.uk, like the iPhone app, is not quite ready but we need live RSS feeds for the iPhone app so the website has been launched a little bit before it should have been. Some website features are not yet ready, please bear with us.

Here are some Bike Hub iPhone app screenshots. This is a beta version of the app. The real one may differ in some areas.

App splash screen

Touch circle on right for directions from 'current location'

A route has been chosen; full info given

Nearest bike shop

CycleStreets mapping

Route 72