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Living on a bicycle in the suburbs?

Old 02-25-13, 10:33 PM
  #101  
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Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
I agree that they may be useful for some people, but not an absolute necessity for me. I have ventured into some remote areas in Northern Ontario, not cycling but driving backroads and remote logging forest access roads and then hiking/bushwhacking, making my own trails where there were no trails. I have only used my paper topographical map and a compass as a guide, never felt a need for a GPS.



Agreed. It's pointless to ride with a GPS or a map when going through the same area over and over again. Once I memorize various routes I don't need to study my maps in great detail anymore, I still look at them from time to time just to make sure I didn't miss anything



Oh for sure. If I was going on some big adventure trip into Amazon or Sahara Desert or Siberia or bike touring into a very remote area for an extended period of time then I would probably make use of online resources available.
A couple hours in the suburbs without a map or GPS can be a small adventure--just right for an afternoon off.

Another online resource I use is the satellite view. I see shortcuts that aren't noticeable on a map or even on site. Sometimes you can see "social trails" in the satellite view that previous cyclists or walkers have created. I made my own trail across a vacant lot that I use for a short cut. On google maps, I can see my own bike tire tracks from outer space!
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Old 02-25-13, 11:19 PM
  #102  
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
I'm sure maps and/or GPS are useful for anyone venturing into unfamiliar areas,whether on foot or any form of wheels. However once someone is living in an area, whether it be suburbs or city or traveling back and forth between them, I can't imagine that either maps or GPS is all that necessary to navigate from home to shop, schools or work. If cycling to someplace different than the familiar stomping grounds a quick look at any of the available mapping services on line should provide a ready guide.
Yep... I wonder if you can rent a GPS. It'd be a great tool for about a week.
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Old 02-25-13, 11:34 PM
  #103  
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Originally Posted by gerv View Post
Yep... I wonder if you can rent a GPS. It'd be a great tool for about a week.
Many cell phones have GPS, no additional cost. Or so I've heard. I'm one of the old-schoolers who prefers maps or dead reckoning to portable GPS. (I do enjoy online maps.)

One thing I prefer about maps is that they show you the entire region, rather than only the area you're "supposed" to be Paying attention to. Sometimes the best traveling is done in the peripheral areas.
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Old 02-26-13, 12:23 AM
  #104  
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The point I was tryin to make is in addtion to local knowledge which makes moving through a large city or the suburbs easy for anyone. But if you are asking the same question as the OP, when touring in a new area looing at a map of some kind makes any city or suburb just easy to navigate. Without local knowlege I couldn't get through Seattle any better than I could through Bothel, Kenmore, Renton or Bellevue.
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Old 02-26-13, 01:25 AM
  #105  
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Originally Posted by Mobile 155 View Post
The point I was tryin to make is in addtion to local knowledge which makes moving through a large city or the suburbs easy for anyone. But if you are asking the same question as the OP, when touring in a new area looing at a map of some kind makes any city or suburb just easy to navigate. Without local knowlege I couldn't get through Seattle any better than I could through Bothel, Kenmore, Renton or Bellevue.
Hard-won local knowledge beats GPS every time. Of course. But in the absence of local knowledge, GPS is incredibly useful. It may even be more useful than asking locals for directions or advice. Sadly, in recent years, I've noticed that, if you're on a bike and ask locals for directions, they either flee in terror, snort contemptuously and move on, or give you apparently well-meaning but completely inaccurate information.
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Old 02-26-13, 04:23 AM
  #106  
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Originally Posted by bragi View Post
Sadly, in recent years, I've noticed that, if you're on a bike and ask locals for directions, they either flee in terror, snort contemptuously and move on, or give you apparently well-meaning but completely inaccurate information.
Actually my experience has been opposite. It's not usually me that asks for directions but I've had both drivers and pedestrians ask me for directions. Sometimes when I am stopped at an intersection a driver will roll their window down and ask me about directions. I can honestly say that I've never had anybody "flee in terror away from me" because of riding a bicycle.
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Old 02-26-13, 04:36 AM
  #107  
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Originally Posted by Roody View Post
A couple hours in the suburbs without a map or GPS can be a small adventure--just right for an afternoon off.
A little bit of an adventure can be a good thing. Getting lost for few minutes or hours and being forced out of your comfort zone is a good thing once in a while, it sharpens your senses and keeps you on edge, it can also be an oppurtinity to find new routes that you never knew existed. Suburbs are not wilderness, you're not gona die from starvation and exhaustion for running around in circles.
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Old 02-26-13, 09:47 AM
  #108  
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When I travel by bike, people have been incredibly friendly to me and they have helped me whenever I have needed directions or road advice.

On my last trip, I used Google Maps to plan the route each day, but there were times when Google Maps steered me to roads which did not exist.

For trips in British Columbia, I use a Garmin GPS on my bike. I have the maps for most of the province and I can see the routes and the elevation changes along the way.
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Old 02-26-13, 02:33 PM
  #109  
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Originally Posted by bragi View Post
Hard-won local knowledge beats GPS every time. Of course. But in the absence of local knowledge, GPS is incredibly useful. It may even be more useful than asking locals for directions or advice. Sadly, in recent years, I've noticed that, if you're on a bike and ask locals for directions, they either flee in terror, snort contemptuously and move on, or give you apparently well-meaning but completely inaccurate information.
In Belgium and Netherlands people were like "Directions? Why not just follow me!" and then we'd talk and exchange stories on the way. I was surprised and delighted.
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Old 02-26-13, 04:30 PM
  #110  
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Originally Posted by bragi View Post
Hard-won local knowledge beats GPS every time. Of course. But in the absence of local knowledge, GPS is incredibly useful. It may even be more useful than asking locals for directions or advice. Sadly, in recent years, I've noticed that, if you're on a bike and ask locals for directions, they either flee in terror, snort contemptuously and move on, or give you apparently well-meaning but completely inaccurate information.
What happens more to me is because I am on a bike people will assume I know where I am and where I am going and ask for directions. But I will confess even if I am in a strange town I will simply ask my Iphone and then relay the information to the lost driver.
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Old 02-26-13, 05:10 PM
  #111  
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Originally Posted by kmv2 View Post
In Belgium and Netherlands people were like "Directions? Why not just follow me!" and then we'd talk and exchange stories on the way. I was surprised and delighted.
I've had people do that for me in the United States. In all the trips I've done, in multiple countries and many regions, I have encountered very few truly rude people. Most are willing to help out if I need.
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Old 02-26-13, 11:35 PM
  #112  
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Originally Posted by kmv2 View Post
In Belgium and Netherlands people were like "Directions? Why not just follow me!" and then we'd talk and exchange stories on the way. I was surprised and delighted.
There are plenty of people like that here in Michigan, myself included. Also, people will stop and ask if you want help changing a tire or something. Strangers have asked me if I wanted a lift when I was broken down. Somebody even asked me if I wanted a lift in a bad rainstorm, even though it would have meant getting his truck upholstery all wet.
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Old 02-27-13, 09:50 AM
  #113  
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Originally Posted by Newspaperguy View Post
I've had people do that for me in the United States. In all the trips I've done, in multiple countries and many regions, I have encountered very few truly rude people. Most are willing to help out if I need.
I guess what I mean is I didn't expect that level of generosity. Here, yes, people are willing to point you in the right way and give a few rights and lefts, or offer to help change a flat, and in dire desolate situations you can often get a ride somewhere, but to drop everything and say "hey, let's ride together and you can tell me about your journey" was new, especially when you're in the middle of a densely populated area and in no clear danger. My anecdote even included a police officer on a motorized scooter.
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Old 02-27-13, 11:36 PM
  #114  
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Originally Posted by JoeyBike View Post
Man, I was lucky the suburbs I grew up in were grid after grid of streets with 20 to 30 mph limits. It was so easy to get around by bike and mostly avoid riding on the 35 mph 4-lanes. Maybe I would have to ride on a fast road to access a small bridge, but only a couple of blocks - just wait for a gap and sprint!

I wonder if I would have turned out the same if cycling was impossible growing up. It was so easy to bike that my parents forced me to take their old car - I returned it after two weeks of feeding that monster. Most get their first car and feel liberated. I felt like I was stuck in a tar pit.
That's the beauty of the older suburbs, like where I grew-up on Long Island- endless miles of interc onnected residential streets which allow you to ride seemingly endlessly without having to venture onto fast/high-traffic roads.

The newer suburbs, with their endless pattern of dead-ends which all feed onto a secondary road, which in turn feeds onto a main highway, which everyone is forced to use, were designed by very short-sighted people, and are very limited.

In the older suburbs, as the price of gas gets higher and higher, and as infrastructure crumbles, it is quite natural and easy for the average person to take to a bike for transportation- but in the newer 'burbs....people are pretty much stuck, because those 'burbs were designed around the car and around one specific lifestyle...and as soon as there is a ***** in the system, those places become obsolete/make life hard on their inhabitants.

When I was a kid, we were car-free. Walked or rode virtually everywhere...and it was GREAT! (I really feel sorry for today's kids- strapped into seats; staring at a DVD screen....)- I didn't become a "car person" till I was 26. As I look back, I appreciate the benefits that that car-free childhood afforded me; Benefits of good health; Of experiencing my environment more fully; Freedom; Not having to support a car, etc. What a joyous life it was!
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Old 02-27-13, 11:40 PM
  #115  
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I've just read an article about hipsters leaving the inner city and heading for the suburbs. This sentence stood out:

The goal is to create cities, and transit-accessible inner-ring suburbs, that are economically diverse and integrated, commercially vibrant, and ecologically sustainable.
If this can be done, these suburbs will be more like small towns, and much more livable.



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Old 02-28-13, 10:14 AM
  #116  
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Originally Posted by Ekdog View Post
I've just read an article about hipsters leaving the inner city and heading for the suburbs. This sentence stood out:



If this can be done, these suburbs will be more like small towns, and much more livable.
Hopefully. I think that huge amount of people who grew up in the suburbs and have never experienced life in the city or country are going to be the loudest opposition. Couple this with the fact that suburban residents typically pay lower property taxes, despite their higher strain and demand on the infrastructure.

I have been lucky in that I was raised in the country and spent my post teen years til now in the downtown core. So, I have experienced the advantages of both. With the suburbs, I feel you have perceived advantages that never materialize. Its nice to live in "Calming meadows" or "Bubbling Brook" or whatever, but the name of the place and the actual experience could not be further apart.
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Old 02-28-13, 10:53 AM
  #117  
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Originally Posted by Ekdog View Post
I've just read an article about hipsters leaving the inner city and heading for the suburbs. This sentence stood out: "The goal is to create cities, and transit-accessible inner-ring suburbs, that are economically diverse and integrated, commercially vibrant, and ecologically sustainable."
This sentence from the same article stood out to me:
"The Times piece was widely mocked. As Slate’s Jessica Grose pointed out, young parents with children leaving their cramped apartments for spacious suburban homes is as old as the suburbs themselves. The only difference is that until recently, the vast majority of young artists and professionals in New York City lived in Manhattan and went straight to suburbia from there without stopping in the outer boroughs. "
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Old 02-28-13, 11:59 AM
  #118  
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Originally Posted by Roody View Post
Sometimes you can see "social trails" in the satellite view that previous cyclists or walkers have created... On google maps, I can see my own bike tire tracks from outer space!
You know, if you right click on a Google map in the area of a social trail, "report a problem" and describe the trail, they will include as either a walking or cycling trail on Google Maps. They typically get the update in within a month. For instance, the short trail connecting the dead-end loop of a freeway access road where it encounters a train track, connecting to a road that crosses the track (green in this map) was added to Google Maps at my suggestion.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 02-28-13, 12:05 PM
  #119  
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Originally Posted by Newspaperguy View Post
I've had people do that for me in the United States. In all the trips I've done, in multiple countries and many regions, I have encountered very few truly rude people. Most are willing to help out if I need.
I did that for a guy I ran into on a ride. He was in town visiting his daughter, and brought his bike to ride while she was at work. He was baffled as to how to get back to where he started, so I rode most of the way with him to show the way.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 02-28-13, 11:57 PM
  #120  
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Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
You know, if you right click on a Google map in the area of a social trail, "report a problem" and describe the trail, they will include as either a walking or cycling trail on Google Maps. They typically get the update in within a month. For instance, the short trail connecting the dead-end loop of a freeway access road where it encounters a train track, connecting to a road that crosses the track (green in this map) was added to Google Maps at my suggestion.
That's awesome! Thanks for the info.
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Old 03-02-13, 09:43 AM
  #121  
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Originally Posted by Ekdog View Post
I've just read an article about hipsters leaving the inner city and heading for the suburbs. This sentence stood out:


The goal is to create cities, and transit-accessible inner-ring suburbs, that are economically diverse and integrated, commercially vibrant, and ecologically sustainable.
If this can be done, these suburbs will be more like small towns, and much more livable.

If this can be done, these suburbs will be more like small towns, and much more livable.



Yes, I agree with this. With the price of gas and and infrastructure ever increasing, I think people will be interested in this type of living arrangement. I am hoping as well that cities develop into a series of self-sustaining neighbourhoods through mixed development, even though that could be difficult with the development pattern the way it is now.
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Old 03-02-13, 04:14 PM
  #122  
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
This sentence from the same article stood out to me:
"The Times piece was widely mocked. As Slate’s Jessica Grose pointed out, young parents with children leaving their cramped apartments for spacious suburban homes is as old as the suburbs themselves. The only difference is that until recently, the vast majority of young artists and professionals in New York City lived in Manhattan and went straight to suburbia from there without stopping in the outer boroughs. "
Now they're taking the train in from Connecticut ...
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Old 03-02-13, 04:19 PM
  #123  
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Originally Posted by gerv View Post
Now they're taking the train in from Connecticut ...
Probably cheaper (and more family friendly) for parents with children than living in NYC, car free or not. It doesn't take a hipster to figure that out.
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Old 03-02-13, 04:59 PM
  #124  
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
Probably cheaper (and more family friendly) for parents with children than living in NYC, car free or not. It doesn't take a hipster to figure that out.
Not just that, but as the economy starts to slide further into the crapper, the neighborhoods that the hipsters were regentrifying- like Bushwick*- which were never really good, are probably starting to revert back to the high-crime slums which they had been for the last 30 years, prior to the arrival of the hipsters- so faced with abandoning their new enclaves, it's either move to pricier digs...or move back to the suburbs/mom & dad's house.

[*= or, as they now euphemistically call it: "East Williamsburg"- LOL]
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Old 03-03-13, 06:47 AM
  #125  
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Originally Posted by DayGloDago View Post
Not just that, but as the economy starts to slide further into the crapper, the neighborhoods that the hipsters were regentrifying- like Bushwick*- which were never really good, are probably starting to revert back to the high-crime slums which they had been for the last 30 years, prior to the arrival of the hipsters- so faced with abandoning their new enclaves, it's either move to pricier digs...or move back to the suburbs/mom & dad's house.

[*= or, as they now euphemistically call it: "East Williamsburg"- LOL]
I think that the areas that are going to be the slums when the economy slides further, are the exurbs with the McMansions, as is occuring now.

The areas that are maintaining their value, despite economic decline, are those that are walkable, bikeable, and have good transit systems.
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