If you live or work in a large city, choosing the right path to take on your commute can be the difference in enjoying your daily ride and getting run over by a car. While there are some streets that are wide enough and maybe even have bike lanes, there are others that are narrow with no shoulders or have parked cars lining the curb. Trying to figure out the quickest, and safest path to work can be difficult, especially if you’re not familiar with the labyrinth of city streets, alleys, bike paths, rail trails, etc.
So how do you choose your route? If you’re in Pittsburgh, you’re lucky – you can download and print the Pittsburgh Bike Map from Bike Pittsburgh. For everyone else who’s not so lucky to live in the new Portland, you can use the biking directions feature of Google Maps.
“Google Maps has biking directions?” Not an uncommon question. The answer is yes. You can go to Google Maps, click on Get Directions, type in your starting and ending points and get driving directions. You probably already knew that. But have you noticed the little biker icon that you can click on? (See below)
Clicking on that biker dude will bring up directions geared for pedaling. They’ve been available since March 2010, but have recently been updated and improved. As of last week, a new legend feature provides better understanding of what the different colors on the bike maps symbolize.
- Dark green is for dedicated trails and paths
- Light green is for roads with dedicated lanes
- Dotted green is for roads that are friendly for cyclists
Now when choosing your route to work (or wherever you’re going) it’s easier to see which roads are more cycling-friendly. That way, you can live to bike another day.
What resources do you use to plan your routes? Are there some great local organizations in your city that provide bike maps or something similar? Let me know in the comments!