When Stephen Lund looks at a map, he doesn’t just see streets and parks — he sees images.
“I see shapes in the map. I look at the road and shapes start to emerge,” said the 50-year-old. “I liken it to seeing shapes in a cloud. Once you get that general shape . . . you can make it into a viable picture.”
It’s those images that Lund recreates by riding his bike and tracking where he goes with his Garmin GPS, weaving through parks and streets.
The project began on New Years Eve 2014 on a whim, when Lund decided to go out the next morning on his bike and, using the red tracking lines of his GPS, write Happy 2015. He also created birthday messages for family members.
Lund has since graduated from messages to intricate images.
Since 2015, he’s created 85 doodles while cycling throughout Greater Victoria, with each image averaging 70 kilometres or a roughly three to four hour ride.
He’s created more simple GPS doodles of a bear, hedgehog and bunny to more complicated doodles including a giraffe, a pilgrim choking a turkey, the statue of David and Santa Claus.
The largest image he’s created was a mermaid, which took him two days to complete and covered 100 square kilometres.
“(Cycling) is a nice mental break from work,” said Lund, who moved to Victoria four years ago from Calgary because of his love of cycling. “What I like about the doodles is it injects a real sense of purpose into the ride. It’s not just a three-hour mindless endeavour for the sake of keeping my pants from getting too tight. There’s an outcome which is exciting to look forward to.”
Creating the red lines on the map require a lot of pre-planning on Lund’s part. Once he sees an image on a map, he plans out the route, relying heavily on Google Maps and satellite view to zoom in and see which roads, schools fields, parking lots and connecting pathways he can cut through.
According to Lund, certain areas of Greater Victoria are ideal for different elements of a doodle.
For example, streets in Oakland make for good lettering, Foul Bay Road makes a good string and the University of Victoria makes a circle, which create the balloon in his happy birthday messages. The southern part of the region, which has a higher density of roads, makes for good detail.
His doodles have generated much interest online — mostly positive reactions. However, there are some skeptics — people saying he created the images in Photoshop.
Lund also links each image to Strava, a site that renders GPS data.
“I can’t trick a GPS. The proof is in the data,” he said, adding he’s currently working on a moose. “It’s a lot of time and kilometres on the bike, but it’s a lot of fun too.”
To see more of Lund’s images visit gpsdoodles.com.