Monday, August 30, 2010

Western Express Bicycle Map Comments (Wonkish)

I finally typed up my comments on the Western Express Adventure Cycling Maps for the AC cartographer who encouraged me to do so. I thought I'd post them here for the benefit of anyone who might google across them, as they're too long to just post in the comments of my original bike trip entry.

Here they are.

Map 2:
Is Pinto Summit 7,376 or 7,351 feet?
Is Pancake 6,521 or 6,517 feet?
Is Robinson 7,588 or 7,607 feet?
[I don't think these minor differences matter in terms of physical effort to get you to the top, but it's just nice to be consistent between sides of the map.]

Map 1:
The directions for map 6 in Placerville are wrong (and illegal for cyclists).

On the detailed map, the red line stops, but the black line appears to direct cyclists onto Route 50 briefly starting at Canal St. (Westbound). The written directions just say "Placerville. See Detail... Merge onto US 50. Matchline." However, at the intersection of Canal St. and Hwy 50, although there is a 4-way stop light, there's a sign on the shoulder of Hwy 50 saying no pedestrians or cyclists allowed. The legal was it to continue west on Main Street, which becomes Forni Rd, which has a marked bicycle lane and signs directing bicycles this direction. Forni parallels Hwy 50 for one more exit to Ray Lawyer Drive, where you go over Hwy 50. I mapped it here: http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=4001541
This also alters the directions on Map 5, because you don't actually get on Placerville Dr., you just cross it to get on Green Valley.

Also--is there a reason not to take Bucks Bar Rd. and Cedar Ravine into Placerville from Somerset? It's confusing while cycling because the road signs direct you to take Bucks Bar, your map clearly shows that they go to Placerville, and it's 4.4 miles shorter to go that way. In general this is the type of information that would make me buy more AC maps--I can see what road goes where with any old AAA road map--AC's comparative advantage lies in telling me elevation changes and cool stuff along the way. (I'd add operating hours of stores, "cyclist-friendly" hotels/diners, etc.)

On Map 5 there's another turn missing in Folsom. Westbound, after turning right onto E. Natoma, you have to turn left after 1.1 miles to stay on E. Natoma. Going straight takes you on Folsom Lake Crossing. Maybe it's AC map policy that unless specifically stated you make whatever turns necessary to stay on the street with the current name,
but that's not standard with google/mapquest directions, which I think a lot of people are used to.

Finally, the whole idea of taking a ferry from San Francisco to Vallejo is anathema to me. Bicycles are allowed on the I-680 Benicia-Martinez Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge, so cyclists can legally and safely ride from Vallejo to Benicia, then Martinez to Berkeley and Oakland and take BART or the ferry from Jack London Square to San Francisco, or they could ride through Napa and Sonoma then over the GG bridge, and not have to do any ferrying. Both of these routes would be scenic and safe, as they are commonly used by tourist and recreational cyclists, and they'd entail less "cheating"
than a ferry to Vallejo.

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