20 years ago, GLASS realised the value of an online green road database. Various groups, both local and national, had record systems of all varieties from card index via spreadsheets to database (and many still do); it was clear that a single system would bring benefits.
By 2000 the idea of a National Green Lane Database looked viable as an internet based project, mostly promoted by vehicle using groups (as other groups could not commit to the project).
Because of the nature of the participants, the routes in question are mainly minor highways with full or suspected vehicular rights. However, as a recording tool the system is capable of being used with equal effect with any or all types of highway.
The GLASS List of Roads was conceived as a tool to co-ordinate research into minor roads. Initially there was a limited experiment open to a very small number of people, which proved that a system could be useful and also helped to identify what information was needed, and suitable technology for implementation.
At Easter 2001, the GLASS executive agreed to develop a fully functional live system, and a sub-committee was set up for this purpose by Ian Boddison. List of Roads was released to the membership at the AGM in September of the same year – a tremendous achievement by Ian with the support of his team.
By 2003 the project had acquired a new name, Wayfinder, and TRF members were using it too.
By the 2004 GLASS AGM, there had been a big realisation of the potential of Wayfinder to provide information about where GLASS members and other users can go and drive away from tarmac. Although Wayfinder was initially devised as a research tool, this important practical use of the system would need to be developed. To safeguard the project and its precious data content, the "Wayfinder Principles Agreement" was struck, recognising the need for more independent management of Wayfinder, as well as continuity for users of the system.
In 2006, the hoped-for developments were not materialising. Ian Boddison, no longer a member of GLASS, gave rights to his bespoke programming to an external company, together with a copy of all the data entered to date by GLASS & TRF members, and others work. A 'rival' copy of Wayfinder was established.
No real development of the original Wayfinder could now take place without this company's copyright approval, and as newer technologies had become available over the preceding years, the stage was set for a ground-up rebuild. TrailWise was launched in 2008 to build on the carefully gathered data and experience, and allows for integration of new graphic and mobile features, whilst encouraging responsible use of the ways in question.
Since then we have been making minor tweaks to the system, and in 2014 added the facility to view lanes on live OS mapping. However, the main problem for improving the system further stemmed from the way it was originally created using points (ie straight lines), meaning accurate portrayal of any given lane on a map was not that accurate.
Users can log their use and see other users comments, so can work out if a lane is passible. User logs can also show a lane is regularly used by MPV (Mechanically Propelled Vehicles) and has the potential to protect vehicular right, if for example a road for some reason is up for reclassification. Filling in your use also means an accurate and up to date system.
The video below shows a simple walkthrough of TrailWise, and highlights how you can now search on the fly in OS mapping.
TrailWise can be accessed here: www.trailwise.org.uk
Non members can only search a very small area and can see only limited information.
So, over the last few years, we have been considering another ground-up rebuild using the modern mapping method for showing routes which follow the actual shape of the lane, rather than just straight lines. This will give us the ability for the route to show the actual route on the lane accurately on OS mapping.
We are currently looking at options to improve the mapping service we offer our members.