Like most people, I love to ride bikes. But there are lots of great local cycle blogs, and frankly it’s a mode that I’m less interested in intellectually, so I don’t do a lot of posts on bikes. A couple things came to my attention recently, though, that I’m going to spend some finger energy on (that sounds kinda gross).
Zombie cyclists from hell spreading love
I used to go to the Whittier Alliance’s Community Issues Committee every month, and just about every month I was entertained by the nonsensical, self-serving, antifactual opinions of some yokel. To be sure, there were a lot of clever and astute opinions shared as well, but they were less entertaining than the crazy ones. I remember one occasion when the Midtown Greenway Coalition presented on their search for potential park sites along the greenway, where access points to the path would be combined with community gathering spaces – the idea was to improve greenway safety by getting more eyes down there while getting neighborhood buy-in through the green space. The Whittierites hated it. The general opinion was that a neighborhood approached from below was repugnant to decent sensibilities, and sure to result in situations similar to zombies rising from graves in search of brains.
Now there’s evidence that their argument was not only inane, it was thoroughly backwards. Human Transit today expands on research finding that people traveling upwards tend to be more giving, and speculates that people prefer going up to going down. I’ll see his speculation and raise him one conjecture: I’ve noticed that many of the cycletrons zooming around town also seem to be fairly patriotic about Minneapolis (or maybe just a part of town called Mpls). Is this because the first thing they see after emerging from their subterranean speedway is through benevolent eyes, thanks to the “up escalator” effect?
How to get a Hedberg in cycling
One of my favorite things about Minneapolis is Hedberg Maps – surely the Consumer Mapping Champion of the World, if there were some island where the world’s consumer mapping companies were stranded and forced to fight using randomly-strewn rusty auto parts. Hedberg is the master of cramming tons of info into a map using a clever palette that leaves it clean and appealing but informative. They are also noteworthy for producing thematic maps on topics so obscure they could only be of interest to a handful of fanatics, for example interstate highway numbering, Santa Claus and the Wisconsin Dells. Hedberg is located in the labyrinthine, art-riddled Northrup King building, and are very friendly – I recommend stopping by after you finish your dog at Uncle Franky’s.
Anyway, fresh off the completion of their Twin Cities Dog Lovers map, Hedberg banged out Minneapolis’ new bike map, which has a helpful zoom-able online iteration. Despite not having seen a paper copy, I have a few comments on the map.
- This one seems less up to Hedberg’s aesthetic snuff – giving width to every street in the city (as opposed to depicting them as lines) makes for a pretty overwhelming map. They maybe should have minimized the many streets that don’t have features.
- The advantage to giving streets width on a bike map is that you can show which side of the street the lane(s) are on. So why do they bother to symbolize on-street lanes differently from off-street shoulders? Wouldn’t most readers figure out that the off-street facilities are the ones without streets attached to them?
- Compounding this last problem, many facilities depicted on the map do not yet exist. They are distinguished by adding the year 2011 in red on some part of the segment-to-be. There are two problems with this approach:
- The reader is not sure which part of the segment has not been striped, especially because dotted lines are often used to show planned features.
- Minneapolis is not known for its punctuality in striping bike lanes (I have an email from Shaun Murphy claiming the 1st-Blaisdell lanes would be striped in 2010).
- There is really an awesome amount of detail here. I especially like the inclusion of Hi-Frequency Bus Routes. Not sure about the inclusion of the Nice Ride stations though – these tend to move around a bit, and supposedly there will be a bunch added this year, making the map obsolete.
- I found one error: They striped an off-street trail on the west side of Twins Way. If there is meant to be such a facility there, I’m pretty sure it’s not indicated with signs or pavement changes. There is an extra wide sidewalk of stamped concrete but nothing separating modes or even indicating that you can bike there (is a parking ramp a business district?).
Considering Minneapolis Bike Program’s Government 2.0 attitude, I’d guess they gave us a chance to comment on the map and I missed it. And even though I just found 5 things wrong with it, I actually like the map, particularly the detail and the zoomability. I’ll keep dreaming of the perfect map, but in the mean time I’ll actually be using this one.