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Create a Travel Distance Boundary
Create a Travel Distance Boundary

Learn how to create a boundary that uses road miles to understand walk, bike or drive times around a point

Jennifer Funk avatar
Written by Jennifer Funk
Updated over a week ago

Creating a boundary using travel distance times opens up a lot of possibilities within mySidewalk. mySidewalk tools already allow you to apportion (read: visualize) data based on the custom boundaries you create, so this is another simple way you can create a boundary.

Understanding road mile boundaries can help you understand how many people live with 1.5 road miles of your fire station or hospital. This type of boundary is different than a radius (which is as the crow flies) or travel time (which is how many minutes away rather than miles away).

How are they made?

Travel times are created using a tool called Isodistances. Isodistances account for roads and sidewalks in calculating travel distance, so they offer a more realistic travel radius from your origin. They are useful when you want to know what’s nearby, and precise distance is very important to you.

MySidewalk utilizes the isodistances plugin to pass your starting point and selections on miles and mode to the Mapbox Matrix API to sample travel distances in a grid pattern around the desired starting point and deliver a boundary back to you.

Create a New Boundary

Travel times are a boundary within mySidewalk. You will need to create one and add it to your custom boundaries (layers) list before you can leverage it when looking for data, when making a map or creating other components on reports and dashboards.

  • Click "Geography" in the navigation bar (icon of polygon)

Choose “Travel Time”

This feature allows you to choose travel times and travel distances. This is helpful when specificity matters (think emergency response).

Choose a Point

Choose a point on the map that is the starting point for the distance. Drag to locate the starting point you want, and click to choose. Or, enter an address in the search box to find the starting point. Change the contour measurement to Distance (learn more about time here). You can then expand the boundary size by miles and toggle the transportation mode (driving, cycling, or walking) to reflect the boundary you want to create.

Pro Tip: You can also change the basemap (background map) in this view to get streets or satellite if that helps. Change the basemap with the drop down in the upper left corner of the map.

Save and Manage

When you have the boundary shape you desire, choose the “Save to My Layers” button to turn this boundary into a saved asset that you can use across the mySidewalk experience. You may change the name so it’s easy to find again. After the layer is processed, a notification will appear in the bottom left corner of the tool. You can access the layer by clicking on the notification or you can always find it on the Layers management page.

Use Your New Travel Distances Custom Boundary

You can now use this layer just like any other geographic shape in mySidewalk. It will appear in the custom geographies list when you go to choose a geography. This has valuable uses in many places in mySidewalk.

In mySidewalk Data

When looking for data, you can use a custom geography to apportion mySidewalk data. This is especially useful for when you need either a handful of data points to share with someone (data request or conversational support) OR when you need a larger number of data points for a particular area or for comparison purposes. You can pick a couple of geographies and pick some data to get comparisons between them.

In Report Templates

You can use a custom geography based on travel times as the default geography in a report template. For example, drop a pin on a proposed fire station and get a driving miles boundary around it to understand the area that the proposed location would serve. Then, save that boundary and use it in a population and demographics report template. This will give you an overview of the type of population that proposed fire station location will serve so you can think about what kind of equipment is most relevant.

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