Poll

Which method of route planning do you prefer?

Suitability data from state and local agencies which have traffic counts and shoulder width.
0 (0%)
The use of maps to find remote local roads.
0 (0%)
The shortest distance between two places
0 (0%)

Total Members Voted: 0

Voting closed: February 15, 2012, 02:00:10 pm

Author Topic: Suitability mapping?  (Read 3045 times)

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Offline Indianacharlie

Suitability mapping?
« on: November 05, 2011, 10:11:11 pm »
There seems to be a push among many states to provide suitability mapping for cyclists. I wonder how many cyclists out there really want and use this type of information. I requested information from one of the states and received several nice maps for the whole state with color coding for suitability which was based on traffic counts and shoulder width. It was quite impressive and I'm sure took a bunch of time to gather this info, let alone the cost to print it.
After reviewing this information I looked closer and found that almost all of the suitability color coding was on state and sometimes federal highways. Since I don't like to ride highways unless it is the only way to get there they are gathering dust in the filing cabinet in the attic.
So what types of roads do people in this forum like to ride? Maybe I'm the oddball and the suitability maps are the answer to most cyclists dreams however if there are others out there that prefer the remote roads it'd be good to know.
Any responses either way would be appreciated!
« Last Edit: November 05, 2011, 11:22:25 pm by Indianacharlie »
Scenic routes in Indiana and Kentucky:  http://backroadsofindiana.blogspot.com/

Offline jamawani

Re: Suitability mapping?
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2011, 11:12:54 pm »
The mapping varies considerable by state.
Federal highway legislation for the past 20 years has required multi-modal planning.
That means that states have included bicycle/pedestrian use in their DOTs.
(Sometimes that is 10% a a single person's job description - FWIW)

The results reflect as much.
Oregon's bike map is super - has been since well before the federal mandate.
Arizona's is iffy - their criteria for traffic volume is too high.
Also, states often only consider state highways -
when county roads are nearby which are far preferable.

Caveat emptor.
(Except that the maps are usually free)

Offline John Nettles

Re: Suitability mapping?
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2011, 01:40:45 am »
The mapping varies considerable by state.
Federal highway legislation for the past 20 years has required multi-modal planning.
That means that states have included bicycle/pedestrian use in their DOTs.
(Sometimes that is 10% a a single person's job description - FWIW)

The results reflect as much.
Oregon's bike map is super - has been since well before the federal mandate.
Arizona's is iffy - their criteria for traffic volume is too high.
Also, states often only consider state highways -
when county roads are nearby which are far preferable.

Caveat emptor.
(Except that the maps are usually free)

What federal mandate?  Oklahoma (where I live) does not have a suitability map and the DOT refuses to produce one even if the grunt work is done by volunteers.


Happy trails and may the wind be at your back!
John

Offline Indianacharlie

Re: Suitability mapping?
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2011, 08:27:46 am »
"Grunt work" is one of the things that I focus on. If there's enough cyclists out there who really use this type of info then I see a need. So that's the purpose of my original post. Are there really cyclists who want/use this info?
Your response would help!
Thanks
Indianacharlie
Scenic routes in Indiana and Kentucky:  http://backroadsofindiana.blogspot.com/

Offline jamawani

Re: Suitability mapping?
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2011, 09:42:59 am »
JN -

I'm sure Oklahoma has found some way to indicate they they are working "hard" to increase multi-modality.
Perhaps they are stenciling "Watch for Cyclists" on Okla DOT truck tailgates.

Here's the info on the Okla Bike/Ped Program:

Larry Willis
Bicycle/Pedestrian Program Coordinator

 phone: 405-522-4085
 fax: 405-522-7612
lwillis@odot.org
Web Site

 Project Management Division
 Oklahoma Department of Transportation
 200 NE 21st St
 Oklahoma City, OK   73105-3299


Ask him if he's full-time.
If there is a state bike map published.
("In preparation" can last a hundred years.)
And what actions have been taken to increase cycling opportunities in Okla.

Offline jamawani

Re: Suitability mapping?
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2011, 09:48:59 am »
In the meantime - - -

Here's the Oklahoma AADT page.
AADT is "Average Annual Daily Traffic" -
It's one of the key benchmarks for good cycling roads.

http://www.okladot.state.ok.us/maps/aadt/index.htm

Nearly every state has a statewide AADT map.
Many states have county road info, too.
Of course, this doesn't say anything about shoulders.

Rough AADT rule of thumb:
Below 500  - Magical
500-1000 - Good
1000-2000 - O.K.
2000-4000 - Iffy, shoulder very useful
Over 4000 - Risky without shoulder
(An experienced cyclist can do short stretches of 4000+ - - but it ain't fun.)

Offline John Nelson

Re: Suitability mapping?
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2011, 01:04:30 pm »
Are there really cyclists who want/use this info?
Yes, I use these maps frequently and find them very helpful.

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Suitability mapping?
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2011, 01:28:27 pm »
I don't really use them.  My state has one of these cyclists maps.  But I don't think it has all of the county roads on it.  It might, haven't looked at it too closely.  I'll sometimes use it when riding out to RAGBRAI.  Might help find smaller roads to get to the town I want.  Might.  Might not.  But I know all of the local cycling roads so don't need a map for 99+% of my cycling.  I don't ride away from home very much.  If I did, I'd try to get a state map that shows county roads.  Hopefully they exist.  Then make my own route using county roads.  I know these have less traffic than the main roads.  So what extra benefit does a cycling specific map provide?  Its hard to imagine cyclists are so stupid they cannot look at a map and figure out which roads are the least travelled.  My state has maps with light gray thin roads for county roads.  And big wide black roads for main highways.  Can't you already figure out which roads are the best to ride?

Offline o2kayak

Re: Suitability mapping?
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2011, 02:07:56 pm »
I’ve used Illinois Official Bicycle Maps a lot. There are nine maps that cover the state. They cover every road, however some of the road names are labeled wrong or not up to date after the county has gone through and changed the rural reference system names to street names. The maps also indicate if the roads or gravel or not.

Offline John Nettles

Re: Suitability mapping?
« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2011, 03:00:04 pm »
Jamawani,

Oklahoma's Bike Coordinator is no longer, at least in any real capacity.  I have met in person with ODOT and they say they don't actually have someone who does anything anymore.  It may have been the actual "coordinator"  but was a couple of years ago so can't quite remember.  I am very well aware of the AADT maps and other resources.  My question was more about trying to force Oklahoma to actually DO something with the federal funds, especially if it is a mandate, or give up the funds.

I have created my own bicycle suitability map by color coordinating the traffic counts, etc.  I, and several others, have even offered to so all the work if they will just publish it.  Even the state tourism department agrees but until ODOT gets around to it (past 2 decades!), nothing is being done.  I am tired of us having crappy resources when, to me, it is so easily corrected.   That is why when a federal mandate was mentioned, I perked up since I thought maybe we could force them to do something.

As far as the OP is concerned, I tour extensively.  I do 2-5 tours multi-week tours every year.  I always go to the state's website looking for "bicycle map" or similar.  I then cross reference with county road maps (if available on-line) and of course, AADT maps, again if on-line.

For instance, I am currently planning multiple trips for next year, Tampa to New Orleans; Jackson, WY to Denver (via Grand Junction); Jackson to Phoenix, Jackson to Portland, Asheville to Baton Rouge, Boston to St. Johns, NF, and others.  I most likely will tour 5-8 weeks next year on mainly self-developed routes (I have literally hundreds).  So, yes, for me, these types of maps are critical.

John
Happy trails and may the wind be at your back!
John

Offline jamawani

Re: Suitability mapping?
« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2011, 05:24:29 pm »
John -

Looks like we plan our tours very similarly.
I agree with all you have said.

What do you do with state DOTs like Oklahoma's?
If they would do anything when they were flush with cash -
What are they going to do, now that they are broke?

I have never been one to sing, "Kumbayah".
Our legal system is adversarial - and the squeaky wheel gets the grease.
(That has a multi-modal application - cars as well as bikes.)

You have to find a project under TEA-21 or other federal funding -
Where Oklahoma has failed to include bicycle planning.
Then you sue - and hold up future funding until it is corrected.
This is especially ideal in multi-stage widening projects.
If there's a 30-mile project over 5 years -
And they have no bike/ped component in the first stage -
Then hold up later stages until they do.

Of course, it will cost in time and moolah.
And they will hate you.

<<<>>>

For example -
For the past 25 years Yellowstone N.P. has done practically nothing for cyclists.
Now, they even hand out a warning card that says cycling on Yellowstone's narrow roads is dangerous.
When asked why hey haven't done anything - they point to environmental limitations.
But they have paved over parking lots with pull-thru spaces for RVs.
And they built a friggin' cloverleaf at Old Faithful.
Go figure.

Offline John Nettles

Re: Suitability mapping?
« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2011, 07:14:27 pm »
Heck, I would be happy if "Bicycle/pedestrian" components of projects would be "we put in 6" of shoulder for bicyclists".

In Oklahoma, we pay for our roads with a gas tax.  However, since our tax is one of the lowest in the nation (gas is now as low as $3.07 in parts of metro Tulsa compared to $3.43 nationally) our roads are not the best.  The vast majority of the state highways have no shoulders even if traffic counts are higher.  It is literally sometimes safer to ride a 4k/day AADT road with an 18" shoulder than a 2k/road with no shoulder.  A lot depends on the road, i.e. is it a bedroom-commuter road or just a regular rural highway.

Oklahoma has a lot of diverse scenery and cool historical/cultural places, especially Native American, but it can be a little frustrating at times riding here.  I guess that is why I am so frustrated since we have great stuff and hardly any support.

I will now end my rant :)
Happy trails and may the wind be at your back!
John

Offline John Nelson

Re: Suitability mapping?
« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2011, 07:18:30 pm »
For the past 25 years Yellowstone N.P. has done practically nothing for cyclists.
They repaved a road in Grand Teton last year and put nice wide shoulders on it. It was great.

Offline Indianacharlie

Re: Suitability mapping?
« Reply #13 on: November 07, 2011, 11:28:24 am »
I appreciate all the info that others are providing on suitability and i'm sure it is interesting to many so I'm not discouraging it however I do hope to gather more specific data on this topic.
So if I could ask you to visit my blog at :  http://backroadsofindiana.blogspot.com/
and cast a vote for your preference;
1. routes assembled using suitability data
2. routes on remote paved county roads
3. shortest route between two points

Thanks
Charlie
Scenic routes in Indiana and Kentucky:  http://backroadsofindiana.blogspot.com/

Offline GSullivan

Re: Suitability mapping?
« Reply #14 on: November 07, 2011, 11:56:39 am »
Hi All,
I thought I would chime in - for several reasons.
1) Suitability maps - I think through your discussion you've covered the fact that suitability maps are often not very complete and that they depend upon how "deep" the DOT will dig in on road conditions. Often the DOT will only work with itself - and won't coordinate on these types of things with counties and municipalities. Thus, you get a suitability map that only has conditions on state owned roads. Not very helpful.
2)ODOT - well, hello John Nettles. It's interesting to see you posting about OK on the forum. I was just at the Oklahoma Bike Summit wherein many state and city planners and engineers joined in a full-day session on bike facility design. the OK Bike Coalition did a fabulous job attracting ODOT and city agencies to the training and I believe some eyes were really opened. On Saturday, I did a session on bicycle tourism but only a few agency people were there - an ODOT planner and the tourism bureau (who is taking over Scenic Byway program!). OK has some great potential but it will take a coordinated effort between tourism, cities and the organized bicycling community pushing ODOT to step up and do something for cyclists. It just isn't their bag - yet.
3) the BAD news is that while today the DOTs are federally mandated to have a bicycle and pedestrian coordinator AND spend money on things for bicyclists, under the new bill being proposed by the Senate - and Oklahoma's Senator Coburn, there will no longer be a pot of money dedicated. Things will be eligible...but we will be in competition with HOV lanes, environmental mitigation and worst of all, there is an opt out. While we have some time (the current bill has an extension until end of March) the EPW committee has said they won't accept any amendments and will vote as a block.

We have the fight of our lives ahead, especially for states, like OK, who are just getting ready to start implementing more bicycle and pedestrian practices. I can't emphasize enough how important it is to support the OK Bike Coalition. They are going to need a lot of voices in order to be heard.

As for suitability maps, I feel, personally, these aren't very helpful. States are so inconsistent. That's why the U.S. Bicycle Route System is such a great option. Local cyclists identify great through routes between destinations and these are most likely NOT on state owned roads. It is mapped and promoted and someday - signed for cyclists. In OK i think the best opportunity at the moment to get a good bicycle map is by working with the Tourism bureau. They get it, but it means the cyclists will have to do ALL of the grunt work.

Thanks for a great discussion. I hope you find I contributed to it. Ginny Sullivan
Ginny Sullivan