Adventure Cycling introducing GIS mapping

Geographic Information Systems tech a boon for touring cyclists

Montana-based Adventure Cycling Association will produce its world-renowned cycling maps using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology, the large North American outfit announced Monday.


Created specifically for cyclists, Adventure Cycling’s maps feature turn-by-turn directions, detailed inset maps for tricky sections, and elevation profiles for the high country. The maps are waterproof and sized to fit in a handlebar-bag window or jersey pocket.

“Our routes and mapping department has discussed GIS since about 2001,” media director Winona Sorensen told BikeRadar. “Last year they were finally able to hire staff with this expertise.”

Kevin McManigal, Adventure Cycling’s GIS specialist, and cartographer Casey Greene recently completed the conversion of one map section of the Association’s Great Parks South Bicycle Route from a strictly illustration software-based format to a GIS and illustration software-based map.

Great parks south map with the gis changes.:
Adventure Cycling Association

This is the first map in Adventure Cycling’s Route Network to receive this treatment, which adds new features such as shaded relief, and a revised north arrow and scale bar.

“We are pleased with the outcome of the first GIS conversion and look forward to receiving feedback from cyclists who use the new GIS maps,” department cartographer Jennifer Milyko said. “The process will be applied to the rest of the route network over the next several years, and all new routes — such as the upcoming Sierra Cascades Bicycle Route — will be generated this way from scratch.”

Research for the Sierra Cascades route was completed last year and five map sections tracing a paved route along the Pacific Crest will be released beginning in early 2010.

“GIS utilises a database to generate road representations with greater accuracy,” routes and mapping director Carla Majernik said, “and we believe it will permit speedier revisions of our maps in the future. It also keeps our Routes and Mapping Department in step with the latest technologies in cartography.”

Map history

Adventure Cycling first produced maps and guidebooks for the 1976 TransAmerica Trail event, Bikecentennial ‘76. Maps were copied and reprinted from USGS maps and published in booklet format. Five booklets took cyclists across the country from Virginia to Oregon, a distance of about 4,400 miles.

In 1977, Adventure Cycling cartographers began hand-drawing maps in ink on mylar and, instead of publishing the maps in booklet format, began printing the maps on large sheets of waterproof and tear-resistant plastic that could be folded and refolded so each strip map fit into a handlebar-bag.

In 1995, Adventure Cycling published its first computer-generated maps, using illustration software, which allowed the maps to be printed in full color and updated more easily.

In the spring and summer of 2008, Adventure Cycling hired GIS specialists to oversee the conversion of its existing maps to GIS format.

Twenty-four routes comprise the extensive Adventure Cycling Route Network, which spans over 38,000 miles through North America and is one of the largest cycling route networks in the world.

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