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Pedaling Toward a Healthy Population

The Paper Map

Mapmaking is not an everyday task for the public health department. Fortunately, funding was provided for hiring a map designer who created the bicycle map's final layout. Components that were created in-house and used by the designer included

  • ArcView project
  • Cover art for front panel
  • Bicycle safety tip graphics
  • Legend design and wording
  • Wording and logos for back panel

Approximately 1,500 bicycle maps were printed and distributed to recreation centers, chambers of commerce, the YMCA, public libraries, parks and recreation departments, planning departments, and local bicycle shops. These maps ran out within a month, so another 5,000 were printed and distributed.

Publishing on the Web

Once the paper version of the bicycle map was printed and distributed, WCCHD began work on publishing the map on the Web. Internal resources available for this task were ArcIMS 3.1, an internal Web server, and one staff member. Initially the main reason for offering the bicycle map in an interactive Web format was to provide "create your own route" functionality. Users would be able to select and measure road segments to create and print a custom route. A Web-based product also gives up-to-date information on features such as roadways and trails.

Incorporating History

As the ArcIMS version of the bicycle map was in development, WCCHD formed a partnership with the Williamson County Commissioners Court. [The Commissioners Court is the overall governing and management body of Williamson County.] The Commissioners Court had passed a resolution that would provide for the documentation and preservation of historical trees in Williamson County that are 29 inches or more in diameter and are located within the right-of-way of county and state roads. The commissioners wanted to make a map of scenic driving and bicycle routes that would show off these historical trees. The idea of integrating bicycling and scenic destinations was born.

By documenting and photographing historical trees, cemeteries, and historical markers and including them online, the Web version of the map gained greater functionality than the paper version. It incorporates the concept of destinations with bicycling and is helping preserve part of the county's history. Photographs of historical trees, markers, and cemeteries also make the Web map even more interesting.

Fortunately funds were available to support this new aspect of the project. Tree data collection was performed using better technology. A local consultant company, wptc, was hired to develop custom processes for collecting and analyzing the data. Equipped with handheld devices that were loaded with digital orthophoto quarter quadrangle (DOQQ) images and a custom application that generated coordinates, staff collected the coordinates and descriptive information for the trees, cemeteries, and some historical markers. Most historical marker coordinates were obtained from the Texas Historical Commission.

A digital camera was used to photograph the trees, markers, and cemeteries. Data and photographs were uploaded to a master database. An ArcView project uses data from the master database to create event themes for the trees, markers, and cemeteries. These shapefiles were used for the ArcIMS bicycle map project.

The final product, available at, is an online interactive map that encourages residents to hit the road and enjoy the scenic, natural, and cultural heritage that makes Williamson County such a unique and magnificent place to live. The map rates roadways based on how bicycle-friendly they are. Visitors can create and print a custom route and view a photo collection of county attractions and historical information.


Thanks to our contributors: Anderson Mill Municipal Utility District, Army Corps of Engineers, Austin Cycling Association, Brushy Creek MUD, City of Cedar Park, Fern Bluff MUD, City of Georgetown, City of Hutto, City of Leander, City of Round Rock, City of Taylor, Texas Department of Transportation, and Williamson County. Special thanks to IBM, WCCHD, AmeriCorps*VISTA, Texas Department of Health, Shawn Turner and Paul Douglas of the Texas Department of Transportation, United Way of Greater Williamson County, Williamson County Board of Health, Ben Clark, Peggie Fink, Sherry Fuller, Dennis Rust, Norman Schiele, Lu Shannon, Karen Thompson, and Courtney Grant.

About the Author

Paula Ferrigno received a bachelor's degree in health education from Texas A&M University and has worked in the health education field for nine years specializing in the technical side of health education. She has been with the Williamson County Health District since 2000 and taught herself how to use ArcView 3 so she could use GIS for analyzing local health data for planning purposes. The bicycle map is the first major GIS project for the department and its first use of ArcIMS. In addition to the bicycle map, she has mapped census and health data for the county, produced maps to support grant proposals, and geocoded client data to look at clinic use patterns.

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