Last Summer, when I was biking all over town with one of my frequent riding companions, there was periodic friction over the topic of bike routes. The aforementioned pal is a self-confessed map fiend, the sort of person who will miss scenery on a road trip because her eyes are magnetically drawn to the map perpetually open on her lap. So, when biking around town, she’s quick to reach for her bike map and suggest the nearest roads that have been designated as optimal for bike traffic. By contrast, I’ve been much more haphazard about such things. Bahh! I know what my destination is, and the general direction I need to go. It may not be the perfect route, the optimal route, but I’ll get us there! Okay, just maybe, occasionally, my attitude could warrant the description “scornful”.
As Summer drifted into Fall, I did a lot more riding around town solo, doing some longer rides all the way into town, or just riding to classes downtown. As usual, I wandered whatever direction seemed reasonable on a given day. And over time, I’d modify the route. Hmm, this road is pretty hilly, how about sliding over a few blocks? And this street doesn’t go through, maybe I could try a little farther north. What’s the best way to skirt around Mt Tabor? Ugh, crossing this major road here stinks; I really need an intersection that has a traffic light.
Over time, I began to notice something disturbing. Increasingly, the roads I settled on were the city’s designated bike routes. For the most part, those routes seem to carry less car traffic, have fewer hills, have traffic lights when crossing major arteries. And as I ride those routes more often, I find I’m getting to my destinations a little faster, with fewer dead ends and less back-tracking.
So, here I am, eating crow. She was right, I was wrong. This time. 🙂
And while I’m on the topic, here’s a link to a PDF of Portland bike routes.
And here’s a link to the iPhone app for finding your way around Portland on bike.