September 18, 2007

Map Displays Local Bike Routes

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The Ithaca-Tompkins County Transportation Council has been offering a free bicycling suitability map to the public since Aug. 1. The color map was designed for bikers of all abilities.
Fernando de Aragón, executive director of ITCTC, said that there were several reasons why the Council decided to publish the suitability map. It hopes to promote the use of bicycles in Tompkins County and according to de Aragón, a biking map has not been published since 1984. He also said that the Council wanted bikers to pay more attention to their safety.
This map is designed specifically for cyclists as it includes bike rides, traffic volumes, road steepness as well as safety cautions and other useful tips. The map consists of two parts: a map of the Ithaca city and a map of Tompkins County. Road suitability rankings are available on the county map, in addition to slopes and trails. When riding in the city, however, cyclists may be more concerned with traffic than with road suitability, so the map outlines shortcuts and traffic volumes.
It took the ITCTC almost two years to complete this project — 18 months to collect data and four months to design and publish the map. The map is now available at various locations throughout the county. Since Aug. 1, some 12,000 people have picked up the hardcover copies. The ITCTC also offers electronic versions which can be downloaded from its website.
When asked who picked up the maps, de Aragón said, “Everyone!” There were 15,000 hardcover copies printed in total. However, the ITCTC may re-print them if there is a continued demand. He also added that the Council would try to update the map every two years in case the road conditions change.
Ivan Temnykh ’08, vice president of the Cornell Cycling Club, said that this map may be useful for beginners or new people to this area.
Arjun Pravin ’11, a cyclist at Cornell, received the suitability map during registration.
“I found this map useful, but I always use it to find my way around rather than for cycling purposes,” he said.
Apart from providing cyclists with useful information, de Aragón added that the new map may have environmental benefits. “We have been trying hard to get people out of cars,” he said. By providing people with sufficient information on cycling, de Aragón hopes to encourage more people to ride bicycles, which would reduce pollution, noise and congestion caused by motorvehicles. He also said that the Council is working with an Ithaca car-sharing firm to create a car-sharing program. Similar to the cycling suitability map, this program, which allows Ithaca citizens to rent cars without paying for gasoline or mechanic fees, may be another environmentally-friendly policy geared to increase sustainability in Ithaca.