The good, the bad and … well you know

I’m on a lot of email lists.  I get email from MoveOn, NRDC, Earth Justice, Freecycle,  League of American Bicyclists and lots more.  Sifting through my Inbox could be a full-time job.  Unfortunately I have a full-time job.  Some days however my email is overrun with discussions about bikes.    I got a couple of things today that deserve mentioning, each in its own category.

THE GOOD

I don’t remember how I found out but a few months ago I found someone trying to start a business creating highly reflective stickers for bikes.  They were using a site called Kickstarter where you can have multiple people donate money to help a project. Well I was browsing the bi monthly email I get from them and found this:

Post-Car Adventuring Guidebooks

These guys are trying to create car-free travel guides for different cities and looking for some help.  I think this is a great idea.  It much easier to relax when you don’t have to worry about where to park, where to get gas, if someone will break into your car, and you can afford to spend more because you’re not paying for gas or parking.  Plus most places are better seen from the seat of your bike than through the car window.  So skip the Starbucks today and give these guys $5.

The Bad

Another email list I’m on is Elm City Cycling, which for those who aren’t familiar is a bicycle advocacy group in New Haven, CT.  They keep pretty good track of cycling in CT and today someone sent out a link to the state’s online bicycle map.  Now I’m not saying a bike map is bad, I think it’s a great idea. The execution however leaves a bit to be desired.  This is what my town looks like :

Dark Green shows most suitable roads to ride on, Light Green show more suitable roads, Orange is suitable, Yellow is less suitable and Red is least suitable.  Can you find the Dark Green?  It’s tough.  So according to them most of my town is  barely rideable and the same street goes from OK to bad to scary within the space of 2 miles.

My problem here is not only is the design of the web site sub par but the roads they recommend as passable(Rt 5) are much busier and less bike friendly than Main St which 3 blocks east.  Also am I supposed to ride the suitable part of the road and then dismount and walk the bad part?  Sorry, no dice.  Lastly I would argue by labeling roads “least suitable” would discourage people from riding out of fear.

So if you want my advice:  Until they publish a Post-Car guide for your town, don’t trust the state to tell you where to ride.

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