Google Maps Bike There…for a safer, healthier, happier world. :-)

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Our hearts go out

March 12, 2008 By: Peter Smith Category: Uncategorized

Just want to offer condolences to all the people - friends, family members, communities - who were affected by the recent deaths of cyclists in Cupertino, California, and elsewhere around the world [The Cupertino incident is on the mind of American cyclists because of proximity, the strong Bay Area cycling culture, and the details of the incident itself, but we are aware of other accidents in the Bay Area and around and outside the US.]. We also want to offer a ‘Get well’ to those cyclists who are now recovering.

There is nothing else at all intended to be implied/inferred in/from this post - it just felt bad being silent about these recent incidents when so much of the bicycling community has been so deeply affected.

Jobs Perks

March 12, 2008 By: Peter Smith Category: Uncategorized

So, I’ve been out looking for meaningful work, and I stumbled upon this listing:

Con-way Enterprise Services, located in northwest Portland, includes the company’s Information Technology, Finance and Administration teams. The Enterprise Services campus borders The Pearl, near Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital in Northwest Portland and includes an employee gym with locker rooms and showers, two cafeterias, secured bicycle barn, and free parking. Our Total Rewards package includes medical, dental and vision coverage, life insurance, disability, 401(k) with company matching, stock purchase plan, and TriMet subsidy.

[My highlight.]

Kinda cool, no?

Companies in bicycle-friendly towns like Portland, Milwaukee, and Berkeley are looking to lure bicycle-friendly employees.

…weird how once you get familiar with a name, you start seeing it up up everywhere. Con-Way in the news.

Ligfiets.net

March 12, 2008 By: Peter Smith Category: Uncategorized

I am told that “the best recumbent site in the Netherlands has a newsitem” on our site:

Google maps met fietsinformatie?(10-3-2008) Google maps met fietsinformatie?

Er is een werkgroep gestart in Februari die graag de informatie in Google maps uitgebreid wil krijgen voor de fiets. Interessant!

Google Translate says that this is German for:

Google Maps with Radinformationen? (10-3-2008) Google Maps with Radinformationen?

In February, a working group went to work, which like Google Maps for information for cyclists extended wishes. Interesting!

I’m assuming the ‘Radinformationen’ (a translation of ‘fietsinformatie’) stands for ‘bike information’.

Check out the cool little recumbent Google logo.

Hey - it may be the only recumbent site I know of, but it’s obviously the best! :)

Thank you, Ligfiets.net!

The Bicycle Craze

March 12, 2008 By: Peter Smith Category: Uncategorized

Just how crazy is it? I’d be curious to see per capita bike industry growth numbers today vs. what took place during the energy crisis of the 1970s.

According to Wikipedia, there was more than one previous bicycle craze.

Sometimes you’re just kinda happy to be involved in something so positive. So, I get happy when I see bicycle blogs growing out of their original server digs, or hear about towns that sprout three new bicycle shops in a single month, or sign a bicycle maps petition that seems to find its way to 1,000 more people every day. :)

World Bicycle Relief

March 12, 2008 By: Peter Smith Category: Uncategorized

A cool non-profit I stumbled upon just now:

OUR MISSION: EMPOWERING PEOPLE

Simple, sustainable transportation is an essential element in disaster assistance and poverty relief. Bicycles fulfill basic needs by providing access to healthcare, education and economic development. Bicycles empower individuals, their families, and their communities.

Our mission is to provide access to independence and livelihood through The Power of Bicycles.

I guess I hadn’t really thought of bicycles as being a tool for humanitarian/development projects.

Bicycle ambulance?

Bicycle that sharpens knives?

Bicycle that transports and cleans water?

Cool stuff!

Crude

March 11, 2008 By: Peter Smith Category: Uncategorized

The price of oil is helping to put the squeeze on people, and it’s just a real bad situation. When you read the accounts of people who are losing or who have recently lost their homes, you kinda think to yourself, ‘man, that’s bad‘, or ,’this is not supposed to happen‘.

I actually don’t know the situation in the rest of the world, but here in America, foreclosures are just about out of control - lots of people in lots of cities and towns all over the country are losing their homes - and this problem is not just about people losing their homes - it’s the myriad other problems that come with massive amounts of foreclosures:

The mortgage foreclosure crisis has caused a drop in cities’ revenues, a spike in crime, more homelessness and an increase in vacant properties, a survey of elected local officials out today shows.

About two-thirds of 211 officials surveyed by the National League of Cities reported an increase in foreclosures in their cities in the past year, according to the online and e-mail questionnaire. A third of them reported a drop in revenues and an increase in abandoned and vacant properties and urban blight.

“There’s a reduction in revenues at the same time that more services are needed,” says Cynthia McCollum, president of the National League of Cities and councilwoman in Madison, Ala., a suburb of Huntsville. “Because of foreclosures, people are stealing, crime is on the rise and we don’t have more money for cops on the street.”

While it might not be fair to suggest that a feature addition to Google Maps could save millions of Americans from losing their homes, I do think it is fair to suggest that a ‘Bike There’ feature addition could really help those people who were determined to not lose their homes by doing whatever they could to fight off foreclosure - even if it meant giving up their car.

People could sell one of the family cars, which could mean giving up a car payment, insurance payment, gas payments, maintenance and upkeep payments, etc.

The problem, of course, is that folks have no reason to think that they could cycle to work - it hasn’t entered the public conscience yet - for many reasons. And that keeps folks in their cars, because the only alternative to a car, they believe, is taking mass transit everywhere, which equates to a loss of control. When you ride a bicycle, you are still in control - an important and compelling distinction for which the bicycle has not yet been given its proper due - in my humble opinion. :) I pass people sitting or standing at bus stops all the time, and I know they’re thinking about it - ‘could I ride a bike to get where I need to go?‘ And then they think, ‘Nope - too dangerous.

A Google Maps ‘Bike There’ feature can help, here, by showing people realistic bike routes that have already been designated as such by cities and towns and organizations all across America and around the world - routes where there may even be a full-on bicycle lane so that you don’t have to dodge cars and SUVs and pickup trucks to within inches of your life.

The implementation of a ‘Bike There’ feature does not have to mean that Google is evangelizing bicycles over other forms of transportation - it could just mean that they’re responding to tremendous market demand - and that would be fine with me - and that’s part of what this petition is all about. I believe that tremendous market demand exists - this petition is just a way to fuse the millions of voices from around the world into a unified show of support for such a feature.

I drove up north of Austin, yesterday, to an area of town known as The Arboretum - an ‘upmarket retail trade area‘. There is just lots of ‘stuff’ out there - stores, restaurants, movie theaters, hotels, etc. In driving the mass and mess of highways to get there, I thought to myself, ‘man, if I wanted to go shopping up here, there’s no way I could bike up here’. It just seemed too crazy - just thousands and thousands of cars zooming around in every different direction - I couldn’t think of a place I’d less rather be when riding my bike.

But all of this might have been false thinking. If I was able to pull up Google Maps and have it provide bicycle directions to The Arboretum, the route obviously would have been much different. The ‘Avoid Highways’ checkbox would be useful, of course, but it would not go far enough. If I was able to look at bicycle directions on Google Maps and see that a bicycle trip was possible, then what other trips would become possible? How many other Austinites would see the ‘Bike There’ option on Google Maps and think ‘I wonder if I could do that?‘.

Lots of Americans know they need to take drastic measures to avoid foreclosure, and sometimes, even selling your car won’t help, but it would be great if we could give folks just one more tool to help keep themselves afloat.

Signature Spotlight: Baby riders!

March 11, 2008 By: Peter Smith Category: Uncategorized

Monday, March 10:

22463. Downing Lu Cambridge, MA Yes! I bike everywhere and now that I have a baby, would like to know of the safest bike routes to take with my child (though I haven’t ridden with him yet!).

Bike Sharing

March 10, 2008 By: Peter Smith Category: Uncategorized

Bicycle sharing programs are sprouting up like crazy. Check out the Tulsa Townies bicycle sharing program, created by the Saint Francis Health System. Not sure I would have gone with the hot pink, but at least they are out there doing it. :)

Humana has started the Freewheelin program in Louisville, Kentucky. No website, but a good intro/PR/announcement video, and a nice pdf.

There are bicycle and safety and environmental advocates/activists gearing up all over the country to convince their local governments that bike-sharing programs are good. Check out Bike Share Philadelphia for an example.

The wiki page has more on bike sharing programs.

The Bike-Sharing Blog is run by a private bike-sharing company. They put together a Google Map with a list of bike sharing cities/programs in Europe.

News of bike-sharing programs making their way to the U.S. has been around for months, but actual rollouts (pun intended) are imminent, starting in DC, with myriad other towns all across America wanting to get in on the action.

Check out this awesome video about the Parisian bike sharing program, Vélib’ (English, wiki). And an older article from the IHT on Vélib’ -’a name that fuses the terms “vélo” (bike) and “liberté” (freedom)‘.

A search of the web or just the blogsphere will show just how much activity is going on with regards to bike sharing in America and around the world.

Bicycle routes directly integrated with Google Maps would be of great use to people all over the world right now - but when we take into account the rapid growth of bicycling all over the world as a real form of transport, this feature only becomes more important.

When we look back at the worldwide bicycle movement twenty years from now, I think there will be at least one effort that people will point to as being a crucial component in leading the way - in helping inspire people everywhere to believe that bicycling was possible and healthy and fun - and that will be the Vélib’ program. The question is, will Google be remembered as one of the key enablers of the worldwide bicycle movement?

I hope so.  :)

Bikehugger's SXSW Ride and BBQ

March 09, 2008 By: Peter Smith Category: Uncategorized

BikeHugger SXSW Barbecue Ride - El ChilitoSXSW is ‘South by Southwest‘ - the annual interactive (web, mobile, internet, etc.), film, and music festival that takes over Austin for a week or two every March.

BikeHugger.com is a website we’ve mentioned before, after they helped popularize our our efforts. According to their website, they are:

…bike culture blogged. As a group blog, with different voices, we cover diverse topics, but all focused on bikes.

Well, they had planned a big bike ride and barbecue down here at ‘South by’ (pronounced ‘south bye’), and it was….great success!

At the Bike Hugger BBQ, there was a capacity crowd that ate all the food, drink all the beer, had a good time, and won prizes from our sponsors. We counted 300 people. 30 cyclists showed up for the Urban Ride on a beautiful Spring day. I made it just in time for the BBQ, but missed the ride, after being stuck in Memphis.

Thanks Austin and SXSW.

ATXBS blog was there, too (I think ‘ATX’ is just a nickname for Austin - a conjugation of ‘Austin’ and ‘Texas’.). It was great meeting Jason and the ATXBS crew, and Byron and the BikeHugger crew.

I missed the beginning of the ride, but managed to beat them to The Blanton Museum of Art (which didn’t have bike racks). No bike racks, but the folks inside were very nice. The Texas State History Museum also did not have bike racks - I’d originally stopped there, thinking it was the Blanton Museum. I definitely plan on calling the city about getting bike racks in both locations.

We cruised for some dinner a bit later on (just beer for me, thanks) - we went to El Chilito - a very cool joint. Again, no bike racks, but the place was so cool I could almost forgive them. I’ll find a way to ask them to install a bike rack, anyways. :)

I’m typing this post from a new cafe I discovered along the way (another benefit of riding vs. driving) - Clementine Coffee Bar. No bike rack here, either - I’ll ask someone about it Bike rack off to the side! :) It definitely seems we need to have a systematic way of contacting business owners and expressing our desire to get bicycle racks.

The picture is taken outside of El Chilito. The guy with the cool bike is Jason, of ATXBS blog fame.

Thanks to BikeHugger for organizing this event, and to everyone for making it such a fun event.

Inaugural Signature Spotlight

March 08, 2008 By: Peter Smith Category: Uncategorized

New feature that may or may not continue past today - ‘Signature Spotlight’.

We read so many insightful and funny comments, that we think more people should know about them. It won’t be an exact science, as the signatures are not timestamped - we’ll just make an educated guess as to which signatures came in each day, based on signature total from the previous night.

Here is today’s:

21008.

Ralph Evington Boston, MA I would also like a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich to come out of my computer whenever I use Google maps. A tasty one. Ok ok ok maybe that is too much.

An untasty grilled cheese and tomato sandwich? Never heard of it. :)