Mapping Unimproved Roads

Cyclocross is a one of those weird sports I’d never heard of until I moved to Portland. Essentially cyclocross is a form of bike racing that entails riding on pavement, trails and grass while occasionally dismounting to carrying your bike over obstacles. Surprisingly cyclocross complements another Portland oddity, the huge number of unimproved roadways in the city. These unpaved roads are great for cyclocross training!

image from

Unfortunately it’s not so easy to find the unimproved roads in Portland so I decided to make a map. No dataset containing unimproved roadways exists on CivicApps or any of the other Portland metro GIS data repositories but I was able to obtain such a data set from a city employee. I began by mapping the data in ArcMap but quickly ran into a problem with sharing my map. ArcMap has two ways of sharing maps 1) by exporting a the map as some sort of image file or 2) by uploading it to the Esri’s (the company that makes ArcMap) website as a service. Unfortunately option 2 requires you to have a server setup to host the map on. Option 1 just creates an image which is easy to share but isn’t particularly interactive and doesn’t show show small residential streets very well due to pixel limitations. It was clear that I needed another solution.

My first thought was google maps as it’s easy to use and everybody is familiar with it. A little research showed that this approach would work. I converted the unimproved roadways layer in ArcMap to a KMZ file, exported the data to Google My Maps and ended up with the map linked below.
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