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Messages - cdavey

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16
Mid-Atlantic / Re: Youghiogheny Trail/Great Allegheny Passage
« on: December 13, 2009, 12:54:23 pm »
I saw your response dated Dec 5, and this caught my eye:

"I assume that the same logic applies in the US that the busier routes are contoured more gently given that they are designed for freight to use and cannot have excessively severe gradients, whereas some of the quieter back roads are more likely to have the severe climbs."

Well, maybe. If I were you, I would assume nothing about the roads here in the East that I might be using until I had researched them.
(1) Here's an example. I have not biked this but have driven it. I-68 runs east-west across WV and MD. It also carries the designation of US 40. I-68 replaced Old US 40. Old US 40 stills exists and in many places parallels I-68 just a few hundred feet away. US 40 is the old National Road route that in various incarnations goes back to about the 1820s. Old US 40 was THE main route through this area before I-68 replaced it. I-68 has the 3% gradients you are talking about. Old US 40 is a roller-coaster of endless up-and-down rollers. Riding rollers like these all day is more demanding than you might think. And this is a main road of its day.
(2) Many of these main roads would be state or US highways. However, many of them have a shoulder no wider than 2 feet or less, or no shoulder at all. Here in PA, PennDOT is gradually putting shoulders on state roads as it does major reconstruction on them, but the majority of the roads haven't been done. If you want your bike trip to be a memorable adventure, just wait till you have 18-wheel semis with trailers and their accompaning wind drafts go by you at 50-60 mph 2 or 3 feet from you -- I guarantee it will be.

I would suggest you consider some combination of the following:
(1) Get online and at some topographical map sites and study the maps covering your routes. Some sites charge, some don't. From the maps you can get the elevation gain and from the map scale some idea of the distance of the climb, and roughly calculate the gradient of the hills.
(2)Also for state highways, most states through their DOT website have traffic volume maps of state highways so you can get some idea of how much traffic is on a given road.
(3)You might consider buying a topo mapping program like DeLorme's Topo 8.0. It will allow you to experiment laying out your own routes. It will also give an elevation profile for the mapped route. You drag the mouse over the profile and it will give you a running gradient. Some of these gradient numbers will seem fanciful in the course of running the mouse over the slope, but you can still calculate an average gradient based on the distance and elevation gain.

I hope you will see this and consider aozolins and my advice to plan this part of your ride carefully. Good planning lets you know in advance about issues like this one, so you aren't surprised. Bad planning does not. You've got two people who live and bike in the region telling you that this ain't easy, dude. A word to the wise...


17
Mid-Atlantic / Re: Youghiogheny Trail/Great Allegheny Passage
« on: November 27, 2009, 03:39:03 pm »
Richard --

I rode the GAP two years ago as part of a tour I did. The answer is that the trail is complete from West Newton all the way to its southern terminus at Cumberland MD. That includes the section to Rockwood you mentioned. The surface is crushed limestone for the entire segment you have mentioned. The trail has its own website at www.atatrail.com. It's well maintained and kept up to date. You should be able to answer any questions that you may have there.

Jennifer suggested that you check out PA Bike Route S. While that is a possibility, I would suggest that you evaluate your route through PA with two thoughts in mind since I live in western PA: (1) the Appalachians are more formidable to get across than they appear because their slopes can be steep and secondary road system you would most likely use to cross them was laid before dynamite existed. The roads tend go over the hills not through them. (2) The PA Bike Routes have usually been laid out by an advisory group and their proposed route is then reviewed and approved by the PA Dept of Tranportation (PennDOT). As a result the quality of the route can vary depending upon who laid it out.

While I have never ridden Route S, reading bike journals of people who have used it does suggest it is quite hilly in the west near the Ohio state line and also in the middle where it goes scross the Appalachians. Perhaps you might consider connecting to Route G to go north and then Route V  (US Route 6) to get to New York. I have ridden Route G, and it's a well-thought out route. I have never ridden Route V so I can't offer any advice on it.  The one drawback I see to this routing is that it takes you out of the Appalachians as you go north, but routes you back into them and delays the crossing until later. You can get maps of the various routes at www.dot.state.pa.us. Click for additional links on the left side of the page to get to the bicycle information.


18
Paul --

How did I figure that out about you??!!

Agreed that at some point in the process it will and should evolve into something like you describe. At that point more formally organized entities will need to be involved for at least the following reasons:
(1) They are better able to draw on available resources for expert knowledge, funding, etc.
(2) They offer better protection in regard to potential liability issues
(3) For reasons (1) and (2) AASHTO and any DOT would prefer to work with them. They can better assume they are working with knowledgeable, responsible adults instead of idiots (well intentioned thought they may be) who don't know what they're doing.

It is clear to me that you are describing a bifurcated process. Someone does all the planning and work at a more local level where they literally know they lay of the ground, and the state DOT then exercises its ministerial perogative to approve, deny or require alterations to the proposed plan. The whole process you described simply is  designed to justify the final recommendation to DOT so they can justify their approval of it. Nothing wrong with that. And even if I thought there were, I a'inta gonna change it, so it a'inta gonna happen.

My concern is that I would not want to preclude at the beginning stages the grass roots-private indiviudual initiative that I described in the way that it appears to me your draft does. I think it is important to preserve space for such private intiatives to arise particularly in the current economic situation where municipalities are getting squeezed because of cratering tax receipts. I think they will find themselves depending more upon this type of free help in the future. Also, everyone always extols the merits of volunteerism in these kinds of projects. So why would we want to shut them out, especially in light of the two reasons I just gave?

I think it is impotant to remember two points Ginny Sullivan made in her initial reply to your effort:
(1) It contains a lot of good material
(2) There probably is no one size fits all approach to this procedure. Hence her comments about fashioning something that can have things added to or removed from it as fits the situation.

To borrow from chaos theory, what she and I seem to be thinking is that this process is actually a chaotic structure (which I hope doesn't horrify the German sensibility of form and order that you appear to have!!). That is to say, there should be an overall general structure that you can clearly see, but at an interior lower level how individual details within that overall structure work out depend upon the circumstances at the point and place in time where they exist.

Paul and Ginny -- your thoughts please.

19
OK. I'll rise to the occasion and bite. I immediately see two problems with this procedure draft:
(1) It looks like it was written by a Good German -- all things are forbidden except for what is allowed.
(2) Only a career bureaucrat who has long since become accustomed to working in bureaucracy could write this piece of micro-management and think that it actually could work practically in the real world.

Here's the first difficulty I see, and this comes from looking at just the first sentence of the draft. Only a municpality may organize a committee. I live in a small city of 15,000 people. Include the surrounding suburban area (which would add three additional municpalities) and the population totals 50,000. The city is the terminus for a rail-trail conversion, although the last segment into town is just coming to the construction phase. Like many cities large or small it has suffered a decline and is seeking ways to revitalize its downtown. They have finally come to understand the economic potential of bike routes/rail-trail conversion, etc., and are supportive of the trail and what it can do for the city. There is even consideration being given to laying out a series of bike routes through the city to connect destination points -- schools, the library, the YMCA, historical points of interest. These is even discussion of extending the route westard out of town toward a local state park 15 miles away.

However, the nuts and bolts work of this is not being done by the city. If you asked the city employees to take this on, it wouldn't happen. They would feel put upon, wouldn't have the time, etc. And that night even be true given the fact that the city can't afford a lot of full time employees and those they have probably are actually already swamped with bureaucratic busywork. It would never get done, especially when you would expect them to get into all the notifications, meetings, reviews, etc, that this procedure calls for. The procedure seems to assume the municpality has a bicycle co-ordinator to deal with it all. Please show me a city of 15,000 who can afford to hire a bike co-ordinator or be fortunate enough to luck into having someone do this as a volunteer, will you? I won't hold my breath while you go look. And if a small city has this problem, how does the guy who wrote this think a VILLAGE is going to have the resources to do something like this? Puh-leeese.

All of the development I mentioned two paragraphs ago is is being done by the local trail council and private individuals volunteering their time. I know. I'm one of those private individuals. The completion of the trail into town has run into an unexpected brownfield problem. Three people -- myself, one other biking nut, and the trail council president -- are working on an alternative trailhead location. It too may have a brownfield problem, but if it does, we think we can figure out a way to solve it and end up with a super trailhead location in the city. We three are also the ones who are looking at how to lay out the routes through the city, and also the extension to the local state park.

The point of this story is this: flexibility is better than prescription in getting something like this done. Instead of a micro-management nightmare like this procedure, why not use good management practices instead? Simply state: Here are the goals we want to reach. Here are some guidelines and things you need to consider in reaching those goals. Then go to people you know or people who surface, make sure they are competent to get the job done well and right, and turn them loose. If you've done your job right as a manager, they'll probably do their job right as a worker.

In addition, because of the political nature of gathering support, working with people, getting funding, etc., for this type of project, there will always be a certain amount of making it up as you go along that cannot be prescribed in advance.

I see this draft starts to address two of the big areas that need to covered:
(1) Design Criteria -- I think the route criteria at (p) in the definitions are complete as guidelines as to what we want in a route
(2) Political/Common Sense Criteria -- all the excruciating detail in (2) through (5) boils down in one shape or form to common sense understanding of who you need to talk with, how do you work wth them to get the project done, and remembering to keep everyone informed who has a need to know as you go along. They can surely be reduced to something more like that. It is the project manager's job to find and/or select those people who have that kind of common sense understanding that allows them to get the job done successfully.


20
Be A Volunteer and Build Alliances / Re: Intro Thread
« on: April 08, 2009, 08:23:04 pm »
Suggestion for Route 15 through Pennsylvania --

I would suggest serious consideration be given to using the existing Bike Route G (or most of it) already laid out and in place by PennDOT. I rode this as part of a bike tour I did in 2007. It meets the stated criteria of being near an interstate for much of its distance. It is well thought out. It manages to get through the Appalachians of Central Pennsylvanis with only 4-6 big hills, though the individual climbs are probably somewhat more daunting going north to south. The worst hill at Madisonburg can be circumvented by taking off the established route at Boalsburg, going around State College on its east side through Lemont, then PA150 to Bellefonte and PA550 east back to Route G at Nttany. Otherwise the route has some rollers on both sides of Bedford but other grades are long 2% uphills through stream valleys. It incorporates two rail trails - the Lower trail and the entireity of the Pine Creek trail through the Pine Creek gorge. Roads are largely low traffic volume, higher volume areas have decent to excellent shoulders (the only exception being a 1 1/2 mile stretch on PA 36/164 west of Roaring Spring which is not for the faint of heart). Amenities are plentiful. For those who want motel accomodations, large towns generally are spaced a day's ride of 50-60 miles apart. There are two warmshowers hosts in Martinsburg and State College, though I did not use either as I didn't know about the warmshowers site until the end of the ride. My start point was Cumberland, MD, end point was Corning, NY. Both points appear to tie into other proposed routes of the USBRS. The scenery is wonderful. All in all, Route G does a good job of balancing all the considerations that go into planning a bike route -- what more could you ask for?? It was my favorite part of the trip, and I'd go back and do it again.

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