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  1. #1
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    Determining traffic/bikeability of certain roads...

    before you ride on them...

    Is there a good way to do it?

    I used mapmyride to get an idea for distance/hills/etc but I'm worried about traffic/safety. It's in kind of a rural area... is there a good way to sort of scope stuff out w/o actually going there?

  2. #2
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    I don't know of any.
    How would rate this road?

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgPlcE5Epys&feature=related"]YouTube - On The Road (South Short Stories)[/ame]
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  3. #3
    Senior Member irwin7638's Avatar
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    In Michigan, the DOT has made maps of the various regions of the state with each road color coded to identify the more desirable places to bike, it's available as a pdf on their website. Most cities have done something similar through local bike organizations, so you might try that wherever you live.
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    Well I'm trying to map out a bike rout between Woodland, WA (teh sticks) and Portland, OR. I haven't seen any kind of thing like that that goes up as far as La Center or Woodland. Most of the roads are near I-5 so most cars should be on the freeway I guess.

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    You can try google maps using the satellite view. If street view is available then that's even better.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
    I don't know of any.
    How would rate this road?

    YouTube - On The Road (South Short Stories)
    I would rate this as poor

    - No shoulder
    - Moderate amount of traffic
    - Hi usage from commercial vehicles
    - Straight sections allow visibility, but also promote faster speeds from auto's.

    This didn't strike me as a quiet country road, more like a primary 2 lane feeder into/out of a town.

    As to determining suitability ?, no great methods excepting the use of a state/county/city bike map that has done this, which generally have no mileage indicated thus make route planning problematic. And there is no on-line mapping program as yet that I'm aware of.

    I am nearly complete on an extensive route measuring and mapping project of approx. 300 miles of roads in Nassau County, NY (Long Island), with mileage for appropriate roads on cue sheets. This was based on my own experiences as to which roads were appropriate for road cycling, as well use of the now out of print, Nassau County Bike Map of the early 1980's. I originally envisioned this as a booklet with cue sheets and a companion map set, but my problem is trying to get it on a new map, and am now considering an on-line version as an alternative.

    I would dearly love to see a site like MapItPronto or some such, have color coding as to road suitability. When combined with the ease of determining routes thru the automatic mileage calculating, it would make route planning simple. The problem then is, what do you do with the on-line route ?. Do you download it to a GPS ?, an iPhone device ?. Print it out ?. Not sure where to go with it.

    Just food for thought

    Steve B.


    SB
    Last edited by Lightingguy; 09-17-09 at 07:15 PM.

  7. #7
    danke shubonker's Avatar
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    I use google street view to see if the roads are nice and flat as well as wide. I like single lane 2 way streets, and single lane 1 way streets.

  8. #8
    Senior Member funbob's Avatar
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    Google Earth. Especially if you live in an area large enough to be covered by the high res imagery which is detailed enough to discern shoulder widths, lane markings, traffic signals, numbers of cars, etc.

    See what maps and data your municipality or state DOT has made available. My city has released very comprehensive GIS data downloadable as ESRI shapefile or Google Earth KMZ's of just about everything I could possibly ever want to know about the roads in my area. I don't know how widespread this practice is but you might be surprised what you can find with a little looking around.

  9. #9
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    All of the above, plus search for "Average Daily Traffic" or "ADT" maps for roads in your area of interest. I used this data in initially planning my commute.
    "The automobile became a hypnosis, the opium of the American people..." -James Agee, Fortune, September 1934

  10. #10
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    Wide shoulders & low speed limits with low traffic volumes are the best.
    Wide shoulders & moderate speed limits with low traffic volumes are second best.
    Wide shoulders & low speed limits with moderate traffic volumes are third best.

    Everything else is going to be problematic.

    I avoid no shoulders & moderate to higher speed limits with moderate to high traffic volumes almost completely.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Kojak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MWPdx View Post
    Well I'm trying to map out a bike rout between Woodland, WA (teh sticks) and Portland, OR. I haven't seen any kind of thing like that that goes up as far as La Center or Woodland. Most of the roads are near I-5 so most cars should be on the freeway I guess.
    Are you going to do this as a daily commute? If so, wow.

    If it's a one time shot, or a ride you want to do every now and then, I might suggest that you go north to Longview, over the bridge, and take the Seattle to Portland route into town. The bridge is a bit dicey, but once you get to the other side you have a really nice wide shoulder all the way into PDX.

    http://www.cascade.org/EandR/stp/stp_routemap.cfm

    Go to page 19 (Rainier to Portland)

    My only other suggestion would be to drive some of the routes you're considering. I've gotten myself into a pickle a few times, and ended up riding roads that were pretty dangerous.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Now I'm not so sure about my suggestion. This route will add about 50 miles to your ride (one way). My brain tells me Longview and Woodland are close together, mostly since I'm always driving down I-5. Going 20+ miles north in a car isn't a big deal, on a bike it can be.

    There has to be some passable roads down toward Ridgefield and Vancouver. Perhaps some local bike shops would know a good route. Someone must put in some training miles down there.
    Last edited by Kojak; 09-18-09 at 11:34 AM.
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  12. #12
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    My local DOT has maps of all the bike lanes in town. Not that its a good judge for such things, as often the bike lanes start and stop at random, despite being marked as solid on the map.
    1993 Cannondale T700 - 1994 Specialized Rockhopper - Actionbent T1 (Electrification in progress!)

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    Google Street View is the best way, if it has been mapped in your town.

  14. #14
    It's true, man.
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    I used to try to do that. Now I try to build enough time in to be able to call an audible and go a diferent way instead.

    I'm much happier going out not knowing exactly what I'll face, but confident that I can handle it, than I was when I was obsessing on trying to reduce every variable to a 'safe' choice.

  15. #15
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    The city of Portland has a very detailed bike route map. You'll then just need to plan out the segments near your house.

  16. #16
    Riding like its 1990 thenomad's Avatar
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    Google street view is a good way to see the roads, mapmyride is nice for saving routes and alternates. I have three alternate routes saved on mapmyride. I think I'll need another route due to a long train that has stopped me twice around the same time of day.

    The "best way" seems to be driving the route during the hours you'll ride it since you might be going that way already. Or ride it on the weekend, but you are then subject to the dangerous sections...
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  17. #17
    Two H's!!! TWO!!!!! chephy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
    Wide shoulders & low speed limits with low traffic volumes are the best.
    Wide shoulders & moderate speed limits with low traffic volumes are second best.
    Wide shoulders & low speed limits with moderate traffic volumes are third best.

    Everything else is going to be problematic.
    Not my experience at all. In my opinion, everything you listed above is excellent (moderate traffic volumes might actually be better than low sometimes, since drivers tend to pay slightly more attention). Most other things are quite workable and even comfortable. The only really loathsome scenario for country riding is fast dense traffic on a narrow shoulderless road. Even Forester admits that can be unrideable.
    Stomping as lightly as I can...

  18. #18
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lightingguy View Post
    I would rate this as poor

    - No shoulder
    - Moderate amount of traffic
    - Hi usage from commercial vehicles
    - Straight sections allow visibility, but also promote faster speeds from auto's.

    This didn't strike me as a quiet country road, more like a primary 2 lane feeder into/out of a town.
    What's even scarier is that the cyclists all ride too far to the right. This just invites traffic coming from behind to squeeze through. If you have enough traffic squeezing by like that, one of them will remove your elbow.

    Better to ride more in the lane, force traffic behind to slow down... and pass when the other lane is clear. If you can't do that... stay off that road!

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by thenomad View Post
    Google street view is a good way to see the roads, mapmyride is nice for saving routes and alternates. I have three alternate routes saved on mapmyride. I think I'll need another route due to a long train that has stopped me twice around the same time of day.

    The "best way" seems to be driving the route during the hours you'll ride it since you might be going that way already. Or ride it on the weekend, but you are then subject to the dangerous sections...
    This is how I've always done things. I create a basic route using google maps, then drive it during my commute to and from work, adjusting it each time until I'm satisfied with it before biking it. This has done well for me when I've moved to cities I'm unfamiliar with.

  20. #20
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    "Google maps is the best. True that..." Just drag and drop the little orange guy and you can get a fairly accurate view of what you'll be dealing with. Unless the road is a new extension or there is some sort of recent road work.
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  21. #21
    not a role model JeffS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
    I don't know of any.
    How would rate this road?
    That road sucks. The roadies around here would argue otherwise, but give me a four-lane arterial any day over a 2-lane country road. I ride both but feel much safer in town.

  22. #22
    It's got electrolytes! chucky's Avatar
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    Just try different routes until you find one you like. I don't think any legal road could be too unsafe to at least try biking it once.

  23. #23
    Two H's!!! TWO!!!!! chephy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chucky View Post
    I don't think any legal road could be too unsafe to at least try biking it once.
    It could. Big time.
    Stomping as lightly as I can...

  24. #24
    It's got electrolytes! chucky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chephy View Post
    It could. Big time.
    How? To a good approximation even on a complete deathtrap of a road that has a 99% chance of killing you in a year of daily commuting (which would be difficult to even to design on purpose, much less accidentally come into being as a legal road) has less than a 2% chance of killing you in a single day.

    Sorry, but I find it hard to believe that a road with a 99% chance of killing a cyclist in a year of commuting wouldn't also be a bloodbath for motorists. I mean, the only way it could possibly be so dangerous is if several motorists having engine trouble are killed on it every month and such a road would almost certainly be shut down immediately for safety modifications and would unquestionably disallow slow moving vehicles like bicycles.

  25. #25
    rebmeM roineS JanMM's Avatar
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    Is the fixation on nice wide shoulders because folks want to ride their bikes on them?
    The best place to ride is on the roadway. In most circumstances.
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