New Haven Bike Maps of the 21st Century

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At the dawn of the 21st century, digital mapping technology was in its infancy.  New Haven’s trail and bike maps from this era appear visually cluttered by today’s standards. Garish colors clashed. Digital mapping software made it easier and less expensive to produce a map, but this arguably cheapened the design sensibilities behind them.

Meanwhile, the low cost of digital mapping also liberated planners and civic activists to map the intricacies of the urban environment with unprecedented detail. The Fourth Edition New Haven Green Map, completed in 2006, stands as testimony to one such gargantuan effort. Part encyclopedia and part phone book, the Green Map sought to compile basic information on every civic and environmental resource in the city from community gardens to schools and libraries, from canoe launches to bike routes.

2006 was perhaps the high-water mark for the trend toward presenting New Haven bike routes within the context of increasingly detailed, broad-ranging maps. The OpenStreetMap project and Google Maps grew into repositories of potentially limitless spatially-specific data that could, in principle, be referenced by specialized applications that present information to the user only as needed. Despite the advent of the smartphone, however, these apps have been slow to emerge in smaller markets like New Haven. By 2012, copies of the 2004 bike map, by then eight years out-of-date, were still all the city had to offer someone looking for a New Haven bike map.

I designed the 2013 Elm City Cycle Map and 2015 Special Edition goNewHavengo Map in hopes of filling this need. For the time being, people continue to expect to be able to pick up a printed bike map. Distribution of the map gives Elm City Cycling and city representatives opportunities to interact with their target audience and inform them about related transportation and environmental initiatives. I am planning a more extensive, regional bike map with mountain bike trail information that will be available exclusively from the sponsor-distributors, namely the various bike shops of greater New Haven. Would I design this as a smartphone app if I had the technical ability? Perhaps, but for now, at least, good old fashioned ink and paper rules the day.

Post script: there are a number of superb non-bike maps that have been produced by civic activists in New Haven this century that could add to the above discussion of the influence of digital mapping technologies. Several salient examples can be found at


Below, find a slideshow of printed maps Brian collected and used as resources for creating the 2015 Special Edition goNewHavengo Map.

***CLICK on the image for a link to its original source!

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Additional Resources

Elm City Cycling

f297b3c5078340dd9fbb4937914a71c8Elm City Cycling is New Haven’s home for bicycle advocacy and community. It’s a volunteer-run, member-supported non-profit organization that aims to make New Haven a better place to get around by bicycle by both advocating for better bicycling conditions and organizing fun events

Website | Calendar | Facebook | Twitter | Contact | Volunteer 

City of New Haven Bike Maps & Routes


Link to Elm City Cycling Website

Link to

Link to On-line Route MapperYale Bicycling


 Bike Smart! Learn the rules of the road when on two wheels!


XrXt77QQgoNewHavengo is a city ini­tia­tive aimed at work­ing with employ­ers to pro­mote green com­mut­ing like pub­lic trans­porta­tion, walk­ing, bik­ing and car­pool­ing. A col­lec­tive effort of the New Haven Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion, Traf­fic, and Park­ingCTrides, the New Haven/León Sis­ter City Project, Yale Trans­porta­tion Options, New Haven Healthy City/Healthy Cli­mate Chal­lenge, Park New Haven, the Yale Office of Sus­tain­abil­ity, and more, goNewHavengo brings together orga­ni­za­tions and indi­vid­u­als to use active trans­porta­tion options.

goNewHavengo part­ners uti­lize resources and rela­tion­ships with employ­ees and employ­ers to pro­mote alter­na­tive tran­sit use. with the hopes of cre­at­ing a health­ier, more sus­tain­able, more active city with lower pub­lic health costs. With our roads crowd­ing, our sea lev­els ris­ing, and our expen­sive high­way con­struc­tion projects stalling, goNewHavengo is ded­i­cated todoing what works: active transportation.

The goNewHavengo com­pe­ti­tion starts in Sep­tem­ber and is a month-long com­pe­ti­tion amongst employ­ers to see who can reduce the most CO2 emis­sions. There will be small, medium and large employer cat­e­gories and prizes will be awarded to the com­pe­ti­tion winners.

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