With the news that H Street was getting the city’s newest bike shop, The Daily Rider, I wanted to create a map showing the distribution of bike shops in Washington, DC. I turned to Google Maps to give me an easy tool to display a set of place markers.

The Bike Shops and Beyond project is a more manageable scale than the 11,485 data points I needed for the Metro Bus Stops map, which at 5 megabytes was impractical for casual browsing. (See Mapping Metro’s 11,485 Bus Stops.) But the implementations aren’t that different.

Originally I was content to map only the city’s 13 bike shops. That got me thinking about other key retail venues that make neighborhoods more livable, so I added options to show cupcake shops, bowling alleys, and theatres. And I was also interested in the distribution of grocery stores, so I added them, and then tossed in Metro stops too. After adding Amtrak stations and National Airport, I thought a nice finishing touch would be Capital Bikeshare stations. Along the way I also started adding markers for neighboring jurisdictions, though these are by no means complete. (Arlington is almost complete.)

Mapping is a powerful tool for exploring regions. The challenge is deciding how to filter out all the available data. The more data I added the more I realized I was missing. I have theatres, but left out performance venues like the 9:30 Club and Lisner Auditorium. I have cupcake shops, but left out Krispy Kreme and Paul bakeries. There are so many retail types one expects in a vibrant neighborhood: coffee shops, bookstores, pizza joints, bars, hardware stores, knickknack stores, and on and on.

The page was built using Google Maps JavaScript API v3. The wonderful icons (excluding my homemade CaBi icon) were downloaded from the Map Icons Collection, by Nicolas Mollet and others.

A control panel at the bottom lets you select which types of places to view. You can use the regular Google map controls to pan, zoom, and change map types. Hovering over a marker reveals a small description. Clicking on a marker will center the marker and zoom in, as well as display a small information window with a link to the place’s web site.

Let me know in the comments how this map should be enhanced.

[Updated March 2012: Updating the Bike Shops Map]

Mapping Bike Shops, and Beyond

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