Wednesday January 2, 2008

At Riptide, Isaiah Thompson has a wish-list of bike-related improvements to local streets. I can agree, but I also say ‘good luck.’ FDOT is spending millions to re-do Biscayne Blvd. as we speak, with no bike lane anywhere in sight. And note to road officials: if your bike path/lane is in crappier condition then the road, then the road is where you’ll find my bicycle. And note to drivers: when you honk at me I move into the middle of the lane, because you’re obviously a deranged lunatic who will side-swipe me if I don’t make it clear to your ignorant ass that you need to give me some fucking space as you pass. Update: OK, here’s my single wish, and it doesn’t require any road work: I want an online database of proven bike-friendly routes to and from different spots. Case in point: I was trying to make it from around Bird Rd. and US-1 last night to Downtown/Beach. The whole area south of US-1 is beautiful, quiet streets, but they’re riddled with dead ends, disorienting diagnals, and blocked routes. The right route would have been invaluable, because as it was I ended up on US-1, where I almost died (sudden screeching tires behind me made me realize I needed to get off the road), and ended up on the M-path, which is every bit the disaster Isaiah reports. I want something like Bikely, but slanted more toward getting from place-to-place, not pretty recreational routes.

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  1. Crumbs    Wed Jan 2, 09:46 AM #  

    hear! hear!
    I find I’m less likely to die if I appear inept rather than aggressive: so despite being able to bike well, I wobble like a 5 year old when a car is fast approaching. My unpredictability automatically slows people down.



  2. billermo    Wed Jan 2, 12:54 PM #  

    The right route would have been invaluable

    the entire way just north of us1, parallel to the metro rail (everything just north of the path) is very direct and relatively peaceful for commute. Takes you right into brickell before you realize.



  3. Lawrence Salberg    Wed Jan 2, 01:05 PM #  

    I just blogged about Bikely myself as I just discovered it and created, yes, a few ‘pretty recreational routes’ for where I live in Palm Bay.

    However, I did notice that one of the built-in tags to Bikely was ‘commute’, instead of recreational or training. So, your idea has merit. But rather than ask the city/county to fork over the dollars to foist another ungodly government website upon us, why not just issue a clarion call for bikers to start putting their commutes on Bikely. Getting a list of your local bike clubs together and emailing them this post might be a start.

    I noticed that one of my own local bike clubs has a bunch of routes on their website that didn’t have integrated Google maps, and since Bikely allows easy republishing of routes on third-party blogs and websites, I sent them an email and recommended they ‘update’ their route page to include interactive maps, not just cue directions.

    Step one is getting bikers themselves to use Bikely. Step two is then collecting enough commutes so that your average non-biker might feel confident enough to give it a try and leave the car at home.

    One final comment: You’re an awfully brave person to move more into the middle of the road when being hugged by a car in Miami. It’s bad enough to try that up here in Brevard. In Miami? I’d think it would be suicide. But there is some lovely places to bike down there.



  4. Dave    Wed Jan 2, 02:07 PM #  

    I agree. We need proven bike routes to and from the most desired places and the County’s Parks and Recreation Department should be contacted to see if they could initiate it with a “Bike to the Parks” Guide. Given the horrible driving habits in SoFla, safe routes as you mention should be of paramount concern. However, I still think a network of dedicated bicycle paths should be the ultimate objective.



  5. alesh    Wed Jan 2, 05:45 PM #  

    Lawrence~

    Excellent suggestions. Actually, another idea occurs to me: When I actually take the time to try to figure out a route, I often start with Google Maps. Check “avoid highways,” then drag the route away from deathtraps like US-1.

    SO…. what Google Maps needs is a “bike friendly” checkbox, which customizes the route to avoid major roadways, and takes into account things like stop signs. I assume that GM currently does not have some of this information, but local government GIS depts should be eager to turn it over, right? Pushing for a solution like this seems better in the long run, because the work falls to computers instead of people (and if it happens it’ll (perhaps sadly) make bikerly obsolete overnight).

    Dave~

    I think we need bike lanes not bike paths. The latter (such as the M-path) are usually pretty, but almost always poorly maintained, winding, and cross streets at intersections, which turns out to be more dangerous for a cyclist then just riding in the street.



  6. Dave    Wed Jan 2, 07:11 PM #  

    Alesh:

    Sorry, I actually meant to say bike lanes. I am reminded of seeing dedicated bicycle lanes in France when I was a living in Europe as a kid. They were an elevated strip about 18 inches wide between the sidewalk and the roadway, about 3 inches higher than the road and 3 inches lower than the sidewalk. This kept road and foot traffic nicely seperated from the bicycle lane in heavily trafficed urban areas. At the time, in the early 60’s, most factory workers rode bikes or velosolexes (a popular and inexpensive motorized bike)to work. It was a very efficient way to safely seperate bike traffic from automobiles and could easily be added without the need of expanding the roadway. I often wonder why no one has adopted this system in today’s congested urban areas.



  7. kingofrance    Thu Jan 3, 03:24 PM #  

    thanks for the link to Bikely, that’s a great resource. I put some routes in there and noticed that you can tag different routes for different things like “training” and “commuting”.