Heatmaps and coverage

My goal for 2014: Ride very street in Santa Cruz, California.

My Santa Cruz heatmap

First of all a reminder: If you ride in the Monterey Bay region of California — the counties of Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey — please log your rides to Cycle Tracks Monterey. The regional planning agencies plan to use that data to prioritize spending for bicycle projects.

Once upon a time I knew a woman whose claim to fame (as it were) was knocking on every door in the city of Longmont, Colorado to tell people about the love of Jesus Christ. At the time there were about 72,000 people living there, which means roughly 20,000 doors to knock. She had lost her drivers license due to age-related vision problems years earlier, so she covered the 25 square miles of this Boulder County town on foot.

She passed about a decade ago so this was before GPS enabled mobile devices and tracking apps, but I’ve imagined her coverage map would look impressive if she tracked her mileage and coverage.

More recently, I noticed Bret Lobree uses what looks like a heatmap of San Francisco at his Twitter profile that shows every single road in San Francisco. He rode his bicycle on every road in San Francisco. Unlike the woman in Colorado, I don’t think Bret was on any particular mission beyond the reason George Mallory climbed Mount Everest.

Every road covered San Francisco

Shortly after I saw that, I rashly decided to set my goal for 2014: I will ride every street in the city of Santa Cruz, California. The map at the top of this post shows my progress as of yesterday afternoon. Red and blue means I’ve traveled that road. The gray lines are streets I’ve yet to cover.

I think it took Bret about a year to cover all 48 square miles of San Francisco. I’m discovering that even covering the 13 square miles in Santa Cruz is tedious. When I ride I normally just like to get from point A to B. If I’m going to make this goal I’ll need to get a lot more methodical, which means cue sheets to ensure I hit all of those unfamiliar roads.

After that… maybe all of Santa Cruz County? Santa Cruz is California’s smallest smallest county (after San Francisco) at 450 square miles.

How about you? Have you or anybody in your area covered every street on your bike in a nearby city?


  1. I really like this idea. I’ve wanted to do it in my town, but didn’t think about heat maps as a way to document it. Thanks!

  2. One thing it does for a person who advocates for cycling is you get to see it all. I haven’t done that for Sunnyvale, now I’ll be seeing more in my planning role. It may also give you some other places to ride for what ever reason.

  3. You asked…

    I made a map of all the bike racks in Ithaca, NY back in 2010.I did two main rides to cover those areas, here’s one example: http://www.strava.com/activities/51412391. That certainly doesn’t cover the whole city though. It all went towards making this map, which included a picture of each rack as well: http://bikeithaca.org/?page_id=425. I wish I knew how to make a fantabulous website to really promote this, as my goal was to get people to write more than just driving directions for events in town (include the bus route and this bike parking map).

    Here’s my total heatmap from my >700 activities. Since I love making new routes all the time, I certainly covered a lot of roads. There’s many in the city that didn’t get covered, but I sure colored a lot of lines! http://www.strava.com/athletes/9312/heatmaps/202f15b

    I had a printed map and another mapping program I used to color the roads long before Strava Heatmaps existed. I thought about covering them all, but never put serious effort to it.

  4. I was just talking about this very goal with a friend the other day! There are a lot of little side streets in Santa Cruz that I’ve never explored, and it’d be fun to be able to know about all of them. I love this goal, and I’m going to join you in at least attempting to ride more unfamiliar streets more often. Thanks for the inspiration to try and follow through on this!

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