Wednesday, September 8

Not Too Proud to Take Computer Advice

Google Bicycle Made Me Look at an Alternate Route Differently
My “New” Commute is no longer new. I’ve been riding it since April of last year now. The route has gotten pretty refined over that time. I’ve learned alternate route choices that take advantage of seasonal variations; times to leave that make for “most pleasant” traffic experience, and even choices that vary depending on the heat and wind direction.

Still, new discoveries continue to pop up. This one was discovered thanks to Google Bicycle. Yes, the same Google Bicycle that won’t let me ride on Highway 377 for reasons as yet unknown, though Google has said they agree and plan to fix that.

The Finisher's (and cyclist's) FIRST Choice!
My route to work as I leave Keller and enter Fort Worth was as shown in the green dashed route. I rode up Katy, past my concrete guys and the tank. It’s a good route, without excessive motor traffic, and the faded double yellow line helps the motorists pass me safely without being intimidated by it. It remains my route of choice when returning home.

However, there’s another way. I reported on something close to it here. As it turns out, riding westbound on Keller Hicks has the potential to save a full half mile. That’s a three minute commute time reduction. Three minutes may not sound like a lot, but that’s like getting rid of a full half dozen signal lights. YOU sit through six red lights and then let me know if it seems like an insignificant time. The blue route’s what Google Bicycles came up with. Google doesn't realize this is only a good route going westbound, because traffic backs up going east.

Google, however, doesn’t know about a few minor variations that can both make the route more pleasant and even shorter yet. THAT can be seen in the brown dashes. The only negative to this alternate route is a bit of riding on a local subdivision path that is narrow, though otherwise perfectly usable as long as you don’t try to ride fast. Even a little shorter time can be achieved if the "Little Lame Path - Of Alien Destruction or Something" is followed. Somehow, I can't bring myself to ride THAT smarmy little path even if it'd save me another 45 seconds.
The Original "Little Lame Path of Alien Destruction

The bottom line here is that Google Bicycle can come in handy. Even for a trial route, it is much better than the basic Google directions, which favor high speed roads over more direct routes that benefit cyclists. It should, however, be approached with some skepticism because it has a lot of hidden flaws that shouldn’t be surprising for a product so new.

1 comment:

RANTWICK said...

I hate safety path terminations. London has lots of em.

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