Posts Tagged ‘Austin’

Your thoughts on a Detroit bicycle & greenway map

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

What would be helpful information to include on a Southwest Detroit greenway/bicycle map?

Schools, libraries, transit stops, bike shops, and parks are commonly shown on such maps.

We’ve reviewed maps from six different cities (Austin, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Montreal, and St. Louis) and compiled a list of what each includes.

Each are unique. Austin’s map shows swimming pools. Chicago highlights open metal grate bridges. Montreal and Boston show ferry service. Austin and Cleveland show how steep the roads are.

All of the maps show off-road trails. Except for Austin, all of the maps show the types of bicycle facilities on the roads, e.g. bike lanes, bike routes, etc.

The Austin map is unique in that it doesn’t show the facilities. Instead it assigns a comfort level to the road based on the existing bicycle facilities.

The roads marked HIGHcomfort level have either bicycle accommodations or low traffic volumes and speeds. On MEDIUM sections, you may find bicycle accommodations on high-speed roads, or shared-lanes on roads with moderate speeds and volumes. The LOW comfort level designates important connections with traffic volumes and speeds, and no bicycle accommodations. VERY LOW roads are not recommended for bike travel, but may still be necessary for some trips.

Of course the provide a disclaimer as well.

Cleveland’s map employs a similar mechanism based on bicycle skill level: basic, intermediate, experienced. They also highlight roads “no suitable for bicyclist but there may be no alternative route.” Of course they define what each skill level means.

Best Approach?

What do you think makes a bicycle and greenway map most useful?

It would be easiest putting only the bicycle facilities on the map, but designating roads by comfort level or bicycle skill level adds more information and is in more layman terms. It’s more work to do the latter – more data collection from cyclists, more vetting of preferred routes.

However, with so many of the city of Detroit streets having high comfort but not bicycle accommodations, perhaps this would produce a better map.

What are your thoughts?

Share the Road: Biking in Detroit

Friday, January 9th, 2009
John R with four one-way vehicle lanes and negligible traffic -- an urban cyclist dream street.

John R with four one-way vehicle lanes and negligible traffic -- an urban cyclist dream street.

Metromode has a great article covering biking in Detroit, but more specifically those whose bike in the winter.

The Cass Corridor is cold, snowy and largely deserted outside of The Hub in Midtown Detroit this time of year. That’s not the case inside the new bike shop just north of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Bicycling enthusiasts of all ages, colors and creeds rub tires inside a space littered with custom wheels and vintage bikes.

There is a constant stream of people coming and going from the shop in the dead of January, and they all got there on two wheels. Cold or no cold, these year-round commuters brave the freezing temperature, ice and snow to keep on pedaling. The destinations for these die-hards are their jobs, local businesses, friends and families.

“The winter time weeds out all of the wussies,” says Jordan Bentley, the mechanic manager at The Hub.

In the article, Alex Aranda makes a point that we make often: the City of Detroit has some of the best urban biking in the U.S.

We don’t have a many bike lanes (yet) but that’s not always a necessity for many of us.

We have roads like Second Avenue, Third Avenue, and John R with four lanes traveling in one direction and very few cars.  How few? In 2005, John R saw 1,405 vehicles per day at Owen.  That’s an average of less than 1 car per minute on a four lane one-way road.  And we’re driving less now.

Austin, Texas is a designated bike friendly community.  Last year I was there trying to follow some prescribed bike routes using their excellent bike map.  There was no shortage of motorized traffic.  It was not the most pleasant ride.  The repeating thought in my head was I’d rather be riding through Detroit.

And, Detroit’s streets are so lightly traveled that an alleycat was purposely held last year when three major events were happening downtown.  The hope was we’d have enough traffic on the roads to make the alleycat a little more New York-ish.  Even then, it just wasn’t that crowded on the roads.

Certainly the lack of motor traffic is indicative of Detroit’s depressed economic landscape and overbuilt road infrastruture.  The silver lining is it’s great for Detroit cyclists.