When you’re trying to get somewhere by bicycle, a bike-specific map is a pretty amazing resource. Granted, in a pinch any map will do, but a map that specifically delineates the lower-traffic routes, the multi-use paths, and the streets that are to be avoided at all costs (or at least that are likely to be supremely unpleasant) is a great thing to have.
In Portland, we have this map put out by Metro:
Like any map, it won’t ever be every single thing that every single person on a bike wants it to be, but it does a pretty darn good job of laying out the bike-friendly streets in the Portland Metro area, with detailed city views on the back side. Plus, it’s on rain- and rip-resistant paper, perfect for Portland:)
I love this map. When I’m looking for adventure but don’t have anything specific in mind, I just look for somewhere that sounds interesting or a place I’ve never been, then plot out a route, looking mostly for the green (neighborhood greenway), blue (bike lane), or purple (multi-use path) lines to get there. Sometimes, I just try to weave together as many multi-use paths as I can. Sometimes, I try to take as zigzaggy a route as I can. Whatever sounds fun. To me, this is what maps are good for and why I love them so much: they represent infinite potential, a million places just waiting to be discovered, and the means by which to get to them.
For how much I love this map, it is a point of infinite humor to James that I often don’t have one lying around. Why? Because any time I talk to anyone about bike routes and they don’t already have a bike map, I give them mine. I have bought and given away this map at least 10 times. In fact, when I buy a new one, I’ve recently taken to buying two, figuring that that way I can give one away and still have one left at home when I want to adventure.
But now here I am, having–again–just given away my last map to a coworker who I learned is interested in biking to work but hasn’t the faintest idea how to get from Rock Creek to the Oregon Zoo. I brought in my map, we looked at options, and he’s ready to roll.
To me, this is worth the cost of buying a map over and over and over. No, not everyone who I give one to will necessarily use it, but the potential that someone out there might pick it back up one day and decide that today is the day to bike to work or school or the store for the first time? That’s why I keep giving it away. Even though I know James is going to laugh at me. heh.
I’m infinitely grateful to have this resource available, and thankful that I can do my part to get it in people’s hands. Removing the barriers to biking, one step or map at a time:)