Science project

GPS Navigation

Research Questions:

What are the safest routes for cyclers? Design a bicycle route.

The majority of bicycle related fatalities can be linked to automobile traffic. It is important to define safe routes for cyclers in order to decrease the fatality thereby increasing the number of bicyclers. The increase in bicycle traffic has implications not only on the environment but our health as well. The GPS system has offered engineers the ability to gather terrain information more efficiently than traditional techniques. Not only can terrain information be gathered but also route calculations, which allow civic planners the ability to track trends in traffic. Using GPS technology we can survey an area's elevation and track our paths leading to the design of safe bicycle routes.


  • GPS device: Cellular phone equipped with GPS, Garmin, TomTom, etc.
  • Bicycle

Experimental Procedure:

  1. Explore. Using your GPS with a tracking GPX program to track your route, explore the area. You may have some routes of your own. These include shortcuts to avoid traffic and save time, or scenic routes that allow you to enjoy the scenery.
  2. Assess the terrain and other obstacles. While on your route make note (mentally or physically) of obstacles along the way. Is there an area where it is more difficult to pass? Are there areas that are safer than others?
  3. Take your data and map it using your GPX files (Figure 1).

Figure 1. An example of a GPX file overlaid on a terrain map. 

  1. Taking your observations from step #2 design a bicycle route.   

Terms/Concepts: GPS - how does it work?; How do engineers utilize GPS technology?


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