If you bike in the Washington region, it just got a little easier to figure out your route thanks to a new tool, BikePlanner.org, that launched today.

A Capital Bikeshare trip planned on BikePlanner.org.

BikePlanner.org lets you choose a start and end point and find the best bike route. Other tools like Google Maps already give bike directions, but this one does much more. If you want to take the trip on Capital Bikeshare, it will plan walking directions to and from appropriate CaBi stations, and even integrate real-time information about which stations have bikes and free docks.

There’s often not one single, best bike route between two points. Some routes might be faster but hillier. Some routes involve more off-street trails, cycle tracks, and bike lanes. By default, BikePlanner.org evenly balances making the route quick, flat and (perceptibly) safe, but a triangular control lets you change the tradeoffs.

It’s fun just to see what it would come up with for the absolute quickest route, or the flattest, and so on. Most maps don’t tell you at all how hilly a route would be, and sometimes it can be quite a surprise when you try it.

OpenPlans, collaborating with BikeArlington, built the tool using publicly available, open source data about streets and bike paths from the OpenStreetMap project, where all kinds of people contribute geographic data, wiki style, that can become a part of tools like this one. You can too!

BikePlanner.org is similar to a New York tool, cibi.me, that OpenPlans put together after New York released proposed locations for its upcoming Citibikes bike sharing system. cibi.me let New Yorkers directly figure out how Citibikes could help them in their everyday trips. BikePlanner.org, though, will also plan a trip by personal bike without regard for CaBi locations.

The neat triangular routing tool comes from OpenPlans’ OpenTripPlanner, powers Portland’s TriMet trip planner. Since Portland has so many people biking or combining bikes and transit, TriMet wanted to be sure its planner let people plan a trip to bike to a transit station, ride transit, then bike to a destination. Of course, all other transit agencies would benefit from a similar feature.

Give it a try!

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David Alpert is Founder and President of Greater Greater Washington and Executive Director of DC Sustainable Transportation (DCST). He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. Unless otherwise noted, opinions in his GGWash posts are his and not the official views of GGWash or DCST.