MapQuest Bike Directions: Answers from the Inside

MapQuest announced their bicycle routes project on the MapQuest DevBlog in early November, and we’ve been following the reports closely to learn more about this new source for cycling-specific directions. For now, the usefulness of the MapQuest bike routing API is limited to the more tech-savvy cycling enthusiasts.

But the new platform that is being developed as an offshoot of MapQuest’s Open Direction API has the potential to offer more accurate, user-driven directions than other previously released programs. We’ve been generating questions at Commute By Bike as we follow the progress of this new platform. Antony Pegg, Principal Product Manager for MapQuest’s Open Data Initiative, answered our burning questions about open source data, comparisons to Google Maps’ “Bike There,” and more. Thanks to Ted, Melanie and Richard Masoner for their insightful contributions to this interview. And be sure to check out Richard’s comparison of MapQuest’s API and Google bike maps at his blog, Cyclelicio.us.

SM: The MapQuest biking directions are currently based on OpenStreetMap (which is different from MapQuest’s driving directions). Can you explain what OpenStreetMap is?

AP: Let’s start by calling it “the Wikipedia of Maps” – OpenStreetMap or OSM is an open source mapping database that is built and contributed by regular people like you and me.