Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Can you trust internet maps?

Can you trust Internet Maps like Google maps?

We ask this question because we have discovered that all is not what it seems when you plan your route using internet maps, and when you arrive and are there "on the ground," and the ground and the internet don't quite match, whatcha gonna do?

One particular point of concern to Quebecers is the many bridges and overpasses and viaducts that are being repaired or rebuilt in the near future. This is a good thing, to upgrade and repair our aging road infrastructure.

The bad thing is that online digital maps don't seem to contain any information about the fact that the bridge is missing!

We recall (with a certain amusement now that the memory has faded) last year's big Prevost-Rawdon ride. That was where we discovered that the Chertsey bridge over the Ouareau river was under construction and definitely not crossable by bike, car or on foot. The lovely and detailed map we had printed from Google Maps didn't have any information about this little obstacle. Being on bike, we had to do a lot of extra miles to backtrack. it wouldn't have been as much trouble in a car, a hassle sure, but on the bike, this was bad news. We survived, but we learned that trusting online maps... well, you get what you pay for when something is free. (or worse: advertising supported!)

Which brings us to our next adventure. We are planning a backroads ride from Rawdon to St-Come.

Google maps says that there is a Rang 9 which is a continuous road between these two towns.

The Ministre de Transport de Quebec map shows roads at either end of the Rang 9, but that the road is not continuous.

Question: which one is correct?

Will the road exist at all? Will it be just a cow-track? Perhaps walkable or mountain-bikeable? Or will we be able to ride our road bikes on it? We don't ride super skinny tires so we are ready for adventure, but just how much adventure should be be prepared to expect?

Probably a lot!

So, our final word on this is that we don't trust online maps.

We now check the Ministre de Transport's website for road construction, it's a bit of an extra step, but do we want to take a 30 km backtrack again? Heck no!

We still think that internet maps are convenient and a great resource for road cyclists. For instance you can print zoomed-views of key intersections, get the correct road names on the route map, and find new explore new areas right from the PC at home. Just remember, the accuracy isn't 100%, and be sure good advice is to check the MTQ website for construction activities in the area you plan to visit.

Click here to go to the MTQ's InfoRoutiere website for road construction news. Click here to go to their map page, a useful resource.


At 1:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I work for a company that is responsible for the accuracy of many internet-based maps. I'm also an avid cyclist and enjoy your blog. Just wanted to apologize for your inconvenience caused by our inaccuracies. We're a small staff in Canada and there are many areas we are not able to update as often as we'd like. If you'd like to see any particular area improved, you can submit a Map Report about any inaccurate data you find at http://mapreporter.navteq.com/. This helps to make sure we update an area as quickly as possible. Thanks!

At 3:03 PM, Blogger Cycle Fun Montreal said...

Thank you for this feedback, I never thought I'd hear from anyone from the map world.

Just so we're clear, I love maps and I completely believe that internet maps are amazing and extremely useful things. And... we've only just begun.


Post a Comment

<< Home