Terrain Inspection

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  • plotaroute admin   Thursday 01 Apr 2021 06:19:00

    We are very pleased to announce another major new feature that we've added to our route planner - Terrain Inspection.

    Using the various new Terrain Overlays, you can now instantly get an at-a-glance view of the type of road, surface and gradient along your route. The overlays will automatically update as you plot your route, so you can immediately see if your route goes off-road, changes onto an unmade surface or hits a steep incline - whichever you decide to keep an eye on.

    Furthermore, our new Terrain Inspector lets you examine the terrain at any point on the route for an inch-by-inch analysis.

    Terrain inspection tools

    This is an exciting new development that adds a whole new dimension to route planning with plotaroute.com. Our goal has always been to try to offer the most powerful, yet easy to use route planner available, which of course requires a balance between sophistication and simplicity. We therefore try to introduce new powerful features in an unobtrusive way as possible and hopefully we've done that with these latest changes; the new tools provide another layer of analysis for those who want it while hopefully keeping things simple and intuitive for everyone. We hope you'll find them useful.

    There are a few additional things to note:

    • The new Terrain Inspection tools are available to all users on both the desktop site and the mobile app. They can be accessed by selecting TERRAIN in the Route Planner (desktop site - bottom right map overlay, mobile app - menu icon above map).

    • Road type and surface data is only available for new routes you plot (not existing ones), as the data is generated when you plot the route. Premium members can use the Snap Route to Map tool to recreate existing routes with terrain data, though please be aware this will also replace any directions, so is not recommended if you've added any custom directions, and the route may be altered if an exact match can't be generated.

    • Road type and surface data is not generated when Auto-Plot is switched off.

    • Road type and surface data is currently not available for routes created using the Advanced mode of the Make Me a Route feature, as this currently uses a different routing engine.

    • The new terrain tools are only available when editing a route, not when viewing a saved route. This is something we may add at a later date, once more routes have been plotted with terrain data.

    • Surface type analysis depends on availability of this data on OpenStreetMap (OSM) - see our How-To Guide if you would like to help improve OSM maps in your area.
  • Peter Höglund   Thursday 01 Apr 2021 20:47:12


  • Colin Jones   Friday 02 Apr 2021 16:50:51

    Excellent, thank you



  • Mark Worthington   Saturday 03 Apr 2021 15:03:57

    This is a truly excellent and usefull addition! Of course, there are limitations as this is based on data on OpenStreetMap (OSM), but it helps with a serious issue regarding plotting cycle routes .... occassionally, and sometimes often, the routing engine uses footpaths (which are not legal for cyclists in the UK). 

    See https://www.plotaroute.com/posts/2655/D/1 "I’m using Auto Plot, By Bike, Cycle Map. The route given will sometimes use brown dashed tracks (footpaths), sometimes even if a blue dashed line (cycle path) is available. It seems to ignore green dashed lines (bridleway) as expected."

    This new feature does highlight this at the time of plotting a route, and will help to correct those minor errors.



  • Mark Worthington   Saturday 03 Apr 2021 15:23:04

    No, I take the last post back! There nis still no difference between a footpath and a cyclepath.


    The Terrain Inspector shows a cyclepath (blue dashes) as "Cycleway" and a footpath (brown dashes) as a "Footway". Could this be used as a differentiator, so that a change in colour can highlight the change in “Road Type”?

    If the routing engine can’t be used to limit cycling to cycle ways (ie, noit use footpaths), maybe the Map Inspector could be used to highlight them as the route is plotted.



  • plotaroute admin   Monday 05 Apr 2021 10:06:00

    Thanks for the suggestions Mark.  Can you share an example route where you're  seeing the auto-plot By Bike on footpaths and we'll look into that? Now that we're no longer using Google Maps we have more flexibility with routing and may be able to add additional restrictions. 

  • Mark Worthington   Monday 05 Apr 2021 17:37:06

    Sure, I'll reply by email!



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