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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 22, 2007 3:26 PM. The previous post in this blog was Heeeeeeeere's Johnny. The next post in this blog is More alumni. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Mapquest: Bike Edition

Here's an idea that makes a lot of sense to me. We have Google, Mapquest, and even the Microsoft thingie to give us directions on how to drive somewhere. And if you're going on mass transit, here in the Portland area, the Tri-Met website can't be beat -- it's really excellent at telling you how to get from Point A to Point B (and about how long it's going to take on the Tri-Met vehicles).

But what about biking?

The City of Portland (with Metro, I think) has done a great job of establishing and mapping the many routes in the Rose City that are (relatively) safe to ride a bicycle on. How much more would it take to create some software and provide the same kinds of directions that you can get for car, bus, or train rides?

Some of our more right-wing readers will balk at this suggestion, of course. But as somebody who gets out there on the two-wheeler once in a while, I think it's a fine idea.

Not that it's a new one. Rumor has it that Metro was working on something like this, and at one point about a year ago there was an announced breakthrough. But the beta version of the search engine they've produced isn't working for me. Maybe someone more knowledgeable can fill us in on how far they've gotten.

UPDATE, 5:53 p.m.: It appears that if you're more patient than I was at first, the beta trip planner I've linked to does indeed work. On a test search, I have some disagreement with some of its routing (see comments below), but it's got it pretty much right.

Comments (14)

I seem to remember that all the navigation systems and sites use the same routing software produced by one or maybe two companies. They offer options now, like "fastest," "shortest," "avoid freeways" and such. It seems as if it wouldn't be much of a stretch to offer a bicycle-friendly route -- at least if it's available. A new search engine seems like (forgive me) reinventing the wheel. And, car advocates, listen up here: it might be a good thing for you if more people cycled, and more of them took the back routes, staying out of your way!

Jack: It's a great idea, and fortunately someone smart already made it. It works well, too!

Oh, sorry, I now see you already linked to that. I don't know why it isn't working for you, but rest assured I use it all the time and it works well. Maybe it was just some momentary glitches? (I just tried it right now, and it seemed to work for me...?)

I've got it going now. It's got some odd behavior -- the map centers on a point pretty far off from where you asked it go. But if you scroll to where you asked it go, it's got it marked properly, and eventually it gets the job done.

Here's the suggested route from my neck of the woods to City Hall. It puts you on 15th to cross Broadway -- I guess the advantage of the traffic light outweighs the hellishness of that corner. I'd stay on 16th. I'd also get off Fremont as quickly as possible. No need to ride that busy street from 24th to 18th.

Other than that, I think the computer has it right. Good stuff.

i bike regularly. it's not a very useful tool.

the problem with this has always been: what does "bike friendly" mean? you'd assume it means "bike lanes", but in fact it rarely does.

i've ridden several of the "bike friendly" streets the recommends, and on at last two occasions almost got killed.

Omigod, that route is absolutely lame and insane. Perhaps it was put together to give the bicyclist an extremely safe or at least low stress route, but how safe can it be when you are looking at the directions every other minute to see which way to turn?

I lived in Irvington for several years and this is the quickest way to get downtown:
Down Fremont to 21st Ave.. turn left.
Down 21st Ave. to Sandy Blvd., turn right.
Down Sandy to Burnside, keep going on Burnside across the bridge to 3rd Ave., turn Left (yeah, you can't turn left legally on 3rd, so you cross to the west side of the street and wait for the light to change to go south on 3rd.
Down 3rd Ave. until you see City Hall across the little park blocks.

Alternately, if you want to avoid Sandy and Burnside because of construction or alleged safety concerns fomented by the supporters of the couplet, you can take a right on Broadway, which has a fine bike lane, go across the Broadway Bridge, continue onto Broadway through downtown (still with a good bike path) and cut over when you get to Salmon.

Either way would chop at least 15 minutes off the ride and be just as safe. Of course, if you want the scenic route and have plenty of time, follow those other directions.

I think its a great idea, just as long as they ride at the same pace of the cars, or in the bike lane. I get tired of being stuck behind some holier-than-thou bike rider that insists on doing 10mph in the middle of the lane. I had a guy do that a couple weekends back, then after following him for about ten minutes, he turned around with a smile and flipped me the bird. Nice guy.
Oh, and one more thing...the one thing that scares the crap outta me when driving near bike lanes: turning right. It isnt always easy to see bikes on your right.

They should use the BTA's routes, my only problem is with the people that are dressed like Lance Armstrong, commuting to work every day, that take Hawthorne or Burnside instead of the clearly marked routes just a few blocks away.

I mean, I expect the 40-year-old mouth breather on a BMX to hold up a lane at 4:45pm but why these otherwise smart, professional folks can't figure out where the bike routes are (hint: there are now road signs!) or think pedaling down a major thoroughfare is a political statement rather than an irritant, is beyond me.

Down Sandy to Burnside

Not in my worst nightmare.

NE Broadway is fine, but that's about as hair-raising as I want it to get. Downtown on Broadway? I've never tried it, but I hear it's pretty bad at the Benson and the Heathman.

On the computer's suggested route, the interaction with the buses at the Rose Quarter is also not my cup of tea. Many of the Tri-Met bus drivers are particularly rude right there, and they've killed at least one hapless pedestrian in recent years. I'd likely be on the sidewalk (even walking the bike, perhaps) trying to get from Multnomah to the Esplanade.

As I said, I ride only occasionally, and I'm not that brave.

Or that suicidal

Jack I have to disagree with you here. "the Tri-Met website can't be beat"
If you want to take a long lazy slow route, then your fine.

I said, "if you're going on mass transit."

" just as long as they ride at the same pace of the cars,"

Jon, as long as the bike is in front, taking the lane, that won't be a problem. Keep this in mind, though: you're entitled to pass (even if there's a double line), if you can do it safely. And the bike is entitled to the lane, under the law, if it is keeping up with the traffic or of passing would not be safe.

@Allan: Bike routing is much different from car routing. Companies have been collecting auto-centric data for years, but few cities/municipalities collect bike data and even when they do it's not necessarily very good. Even in Portland where we're lucky to have some of the best bike infrastructure and maps in the country, the available data is still nowhere near the level it is for vehicles.

Regarding reinventing the wheel, to some extent that's true for things like address lookup, but for the actual routing it's definitely not. I wish it wasn't necessary to reinvent the wheels we do reinvent, but unfortunately there isn't much alternative since the existing commercial software costs more than we can afford.

On that note, I'd like to point out that the byCycle trip planner has been built with less than $10,000 by one person* when projects of similar scale are generally built with tens to hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars by a team of people. Bike lanes are big hit or miss in my opinion. Some of them are much more dangerous than just riding in the street, and some of them are really nice. It's mainly a matter of whether the lane is next to parked cars or not and how wide it is. The problem here is that the data we have doesn't distinguish between these types--all streets with a bike lane are lumped together--and so it's not as simple as saying "given a choice, always choose a bike lane."

@Gene: If you're referring to the trip planner with "They should use the [Metro]'s routes...", we do use them. It's not always practical to direct people onto them, but we do take them into account. In fact, most of Gil's complaint seems to stem from this, because looking at Jack's route, most of it is on signed bike routes, bike lanes, paths, etc:;find?q=-122.653512%2C45.530703&bike_map=1

@To everyone who has some complaint or any other feedback about the trip planner: I would like to respectfully ask/beg you to also send your feedback to us ( We can't do much about your complaints if we're not aware of them.

*Disclaimer: Yes, I am that person. Also, I'm not counting the work that goes into collecting and maintaining the street and bike data. Much thanks and appreciation goes to Metro for that.


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In Vino Veritas

Lange, Pinot Gris 2015
Kiona, Lemberger 2014
Willamette Valley, Pinot Gris 2015
Aix, Rosé de Provence 2016
Marchigüe, Cabernet 2013
Inazío Irruzola, Getariako Txakolina Rosé 2015
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Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Kirkland, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2016
Cantele, Salice Salentino Reserva 2013
Whispering Angel, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2013
Avissi, Prosecco
Cleto Charli, Lambrusco di Sorbara Secco, Vecchia Modena
Pique Poul, Rosé 2016
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Rosé 2016
Stoller, Pinot Noir Rosé 2016
Chehalem, Inox Chardonnay 2015
The Four Graces, Pinot Gris 2015
Gascón, Colosal Red 2013
Cardwell Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
L'Ecole No. 41, Merlot 2013
Della Terra, Anonymus
Willamette Valley, Dijon Clone Chardonnay 2013
Wraith, Cabernet, Eidolon Estate 2012
Januik, Red 2015
Tomassi, Valpolicella, Rafaél, 2014
Sharecropper's Pinot Noir 2013
Helix, Pomatia Red Blend 2013
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2013
Locations, Spanish Red Wine
Locations, Argentinian Red Wine
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Shatter, Grenache, Maury 2012
Argyle, Vintage Brut 2011
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16 Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2014
Benton Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
Primarius, Pinot Gris 2015
Januik, Merlot 2013
Napa Cellars, Cabernet 2013
J. Bookwalter, Protagonist 2012
LAN, Rioja Edicion Limitada 2011
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Rutherford 2009
Denada Cellars, Cabernet, Maipo Valley 2014
Marchigüe, Cabernet, Colchagua Valley 2013
Oberon, Cabernet 2014
Hedges, Red Mountain 2012
Balboa, Rose of Grenache 2015
Ontañón, Rioja Reserva 2015
Three Horse Ranch, Pinot Gris 2014
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
Nelms Road, Merlot 2013
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Pinot Gris 2014
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2012
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2013
Villa Maria, Sauvignon Blanc 2015
G3, Cabernet 2013
Chateau Smith, Cabernet, Washington State 2014
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16
Willamette Valley, Rose of Pinot Noir, Whole Clusters 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Ca' del Baio Barbaresco Valgrande 2012
Goodfellow, Reserve Pinot Gris, Clover 2014
Lugana, San Benedetto 2014
Wente, Cabernet, Charles Wetmore 2011
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
King Estate, Pinot Gris 2015
Adelsheim, Pinot Gris 2015
Trader Joe's, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley 2015
La Vite Lucente, Toscana Red 2013
St. Francis, Cabernet, Sonoma 2013
Kendall-Jackson, Pinot Noir, California 2013
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Napa Valley 2013
Erath, Pinot Noir, Estate Selection 2012
Abbot's Table, Columbia Valley 2014
Intrinsic, Cabernet 2014
Oyster Bay, Pinot Noir 2010
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Layer Cake, Shiraz 2013
Desert Wind, Ruah 2011
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Marc Maron - Waiting for the Punch
Phil Stanford - Rose City Vice
Kenneth R. Feinberg - What is Life Worth?
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Peter Carey - True History of the Kelly Gang
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Philip Roth - The Plot Against America
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Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
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Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
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C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
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William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 5
At this date last year: 3
Total run in 2017: 113
In 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
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In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
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