Offer of help: journey planning for your bicycle route

Since the COVID-19 situation has changed rapidly over the past 1-2 weeks and people are now seriously avoiding public transport, there seem to be many more people people riding bikes around Melbourne.

Many of them seem to be people who have had bikes kicking around in their garage but have ridden very little in the past.

It’s fantastic to see more bikes around but it also means is that there are lots of new people who now need good directions. I came across more than a few last week who fell into this category and needed help to be on their way.

Some had tried to use Google Maps to plan their journey. Unfortunately, as regular riders know, its facilities for bicycle wayfinding are substandard at best and downright dangerous at worst. For example, telling cyclists to ride along the Eastern Freeway to get from North Balwyn to Kew. This is not only highly dangerous but also illegal.

What I can help with

Because of this I am offering to help anyone to plan their journey by bike for free. As a transport planner, regular bike rider and lifelong Melbourne resident I feel able to help you plan a decent route (better than Google Maps anyway…)

I’ll provide you with:

  • A route recommendation that is as safe, direct and practical as possible for your needs based on my knowledge and experience
  • Turn-by-turn directions (as a cuesheet if you wish)
  • And a map of the route of course!

If you’re interested, flick me a message using this form:

If you don’t want to do that, you can also try using OpenRouteService. It uses OpenStreetMap instead of Google Maps. As a result, it is much more accurate and reliable. It’s still far from perfect and doesn’t benefit from a lot of the local knowledge that can often make a big difference when planning a good bike route, but if you’d like to try it out here’s the link:


Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

23 March, 2020 at 5:11 pm

Hi Philip
Great offer. We have been successfully converting bike maps from a book called Melbourne bike trails. We go to Google Maps and input up to 10 locations or landmarks.
Like you say Google maps doesn’t tend to pick bike trails but you can drag the course to specific locations.
Once done we share it on Facebook and then use a phone GPS once we’re on the bike.
Maps only lets you insert 10 destinations for 1 map so it’s not exact.
We just did the Westerfolds Park, Ruffy Park, Doncaster track and it was amazing.
I’ll check out OpenRouyeService.

Cheers Colin

Mike Lambertreply
30 September, 2020 at 6:29 pm
– In reply to: Colin

What is your FaceBook page ? and what is OpenRouyeService ?

23 March, 2020 at 8:09 pm

We use Bikemap (the free version). It’s far from perfect but a good starting point.

23 March, 2020 at 9:37 pm

This is such a generous and valuable offer. I don’t need to take you up on it, but hopefully others do. Thank you.

24 March, 2020 at 6:43 am

Good on you for helping!

I suggest reporting issues with routing (especially illegal routes) through the feedback mechanism in Google maps. They’re pretty responsive

24 March, 2020 at 5:17 pm
– In reply to: Roger

Thanks Roger! And yes you can report to Google, but I’ve found them to be pretty unresponsive actually! I reported this issue with the Eastern Freeway 4-5 years ago twice, and it obviously still hasn’t been fixed.

25 March, 2020 at 9:48 pm

Garmin popularity routing is actually pretty good nowadays. Not perfect, but you won’t be heading down a freeway.

YarraBUG Radio Show #589 Monday 30th March 2020 – Yarra Bicycle Users Group Radioreply
29 June, 2020 at 12:49 am

[…] Are you a new or intending rider in Melbourne due to COVID-19 issues and unsure about what’s the most suitable route to take? Philip Mallis, transport planner, map creator, former councillor and Chair of Urban Planning at Boroondara Council has offered to assist riders plan their journeys as applications such as Google maps don’t prove enough detail for safe and adequate routes. Philip discusses the surge in new riders avoiding public transport, wayfinding, using Open Street Maps, Open Route Service and his Offer of help: journey planning for your bicycle route. […]

Advice for people who are new to riding bikes during COVID-19 | Philip Mallisreply
26 August, 2020 at 3:10 pm

[…] But if you are new and would like some tips on where to ride, I am still offering free bicycle route planning (you can find details here). […]

Where to find bicycle maps for Melbourne | Maps by Philip Mallisreply
26 September, 2020 at 9:06 am

[…] have posted before about journey planning for bikes over on my main blog. But what about maps showing bike routes and information in […]

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