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Posted by on Apr 23, 2009 in Bicycle Culture, General | 11 comments

My New World

click on the image for a larger view

click on the image for a larger view

A few months ago, I wrote about my short-trip route to the grocery store. I recently moved from Maitland/Casselberry to Audubon Park, so I thought I’d do the exercise again.

In keeping with Andy Cline’s One Mile Solution, I’ll start with my mile—give or take. The pink highlights on the map represent all my short trip routes. I’m 1/2 mile from the mall, several shopping centers, pretty much every type of store I could want, lots of restaurants, the Cady Way trail head and all-important Bikes Beans & Bordeaux. I’m a mile and a half from my preferred grocery store (Publix in Baldwin Park). BTW, If you’re wondering why I don’t take the more direct route to Publix via Maguire and New Broad Street, here’s a hint (Lake Baldwin Lane has DZBLs, too, and the road does have a section with a median preventing cars from being able to pass a cyclist riding outside the door zone… but it isn’t like that the whole way).

The green highlight is my commute. It’s 3.2 miles and almost entirely residential roads. The short distance makes it possible to wear work clothes (this won’t be the case in summer, but fall, winter & spring it’s perfect). The only busy area is Orange Ave. and S. Ivanhoe. Navigating the interchange at S. Ivanhoe is not much fun (FDOT deserves a lawsuit for the condition of the pavement there), but I’ll write more about that in another post.

The blue highlights are thrown in for fun. They show quiet street routes leading to downtown Winter Park and East Winter Park. And, you can see there are infinite ways to get to downtown Orlando, too.

This is a fun new experience for me. It’s the first time I’ve lived in such a dense neighborhood with easy access to, well, everything. I grew up in rural Pennsylvania, miles from anything. Since moving to Florida, aside from a summer in downtown St. Augustine and one semester of living in the Langford Hotel, I have lived in Goldenrod or the Maitland/Casselberry area. I’ve been wanting to move down into the core for a while, so when the opportunity presented itself at the end of March, I jumped on it.

One of the coolest things about moving here has been seeing so many other bicyclists. The advantage of proximity to everything and so many easy street options is clearly what drives mode share. I cannot go out without seeing several other cyclists on the road and at the stores. The other day, I saw a couple on a comfort tandem with panniers at Target. There are always bikes at the Baldwin Park Publix, as well as the Shine Ave. Publix (which is about the same distance in the opposite direction). I see cyclists on my street almost every trip. I’ve even seen people I know a few times—including Andrewp. Aside from the gratuitous nuisance lanes in Baldwin Park, these streets have no special facilities. What creates this abundance of bicyclists is the proximity to destinations and variety of low-volume streets. Likewise, I belive impediments to higher mode share in this urban core have little to do with infrastructure and everything to do with social structure.

11 Comments

  1. Welcome to the neighborhood.

  2. Ditto. I live in a townhome just behind the army reserve on Corrine. We moved to BP so I could ride to work out by UCF. We try to ride everywhere. I was driving back from the IOA 5K last week and was shocked at the number of riders out on the roads. It was great, but I wish more would have lights and helmets on. This entire area is becoming more and more bike friendly, it seems. Hopefully my kids will never have to be car dependent.

  3. Thanks Eric & Chris :-)

    Chris, your kids will have a head start by the example you’re setting. Having the chance to learn to ride on a good network of quiet streets that actually take them to destinations is an advantage also.

  4. My wife and I have had many conversations with suburbians about us living “downtown”. They wonder how we can deal with all the traffic and busy roads. It seems everyone thinks you have to drive on Colonial to go anywhere downtown. Its very funny and we explain to them we are rarely caught in traffic because of all the backroads we use (if we drive) and how we can walk/bike nearly everywhere. Whenever we do venture out to the suburbs, we are always amazed at the high density of traffic we have to deal with. Give me urban living any day! The only other life I would want right now is a self sustaining lifestyle on a farm…..

  5. I occasionally lead downtown group rides. People who have lived here for decades will say they had no idea certain roads, parks, features existed. In the car mentality, they’ve always stuck to the thru roads.

    Most people from the ‘burbs don’t realize that the downtown rush hour clears off the surface streets very quickly. All the dense traffic is on the arteries leading away from the city.

    “The only other life I would want right now is a self sustaining lifestyle on a farm.”

    I’m torn between those two worlds myself. Growing up, my family grew all of our vegetables and a most of the fruit we ate. Meat items came from the farmer’s market. I really miss fresh food and the satisfaction from growing our own food. I can’t say I miss the labor, though. Or the drive to town.

    (like Eric, I learned to drive a tractor before I was old enough to drive a car)

  6. “I really miss fresh food and the satisfaction from growing our own food.”

    New methods mean almost no weeding. If you use a raised bed, then a garden can go just about anywhere including a patio. Maybe you can jaw the management company/landlord or whomever into letting you have a little 4′x8′ raised bed. 4 feet means you can reach both sides without having to walk in it.

    I have an old copy of the “Edible Landscape” that I use written by Tom MacCubbin. You could bike over to the branch library or downtown and I know they have a copy of it. I bought the book since it makes a great reference tool.

    You want a book written for Florida since our growing season are backwards.

    Couple of changes though since it was published. We are in a heat island here, so So. Florida info is a little closer to what we have in town. The sun is stronger now than when the book was written, so some light shade cloth or high tree shade is better for the plants when “full sun” is called for.

  7. Keri: also look up “Square Foot Gardening”, which shows how to garden with limited space in 1′ squares. Sounds similar to Eric’s book. I have a copy if you are interested ….

    More people need to try Andy Cline’s “1 Mile Solution” and they would discover there are still lots of places closeby. Not that I encourage it, but even if you have to use the sidewalk, you can get to places easily. Just be a bit more careful with driveways and intersections …

  8. I built 4×8 raised gardens at my house in Maitland. Other than weeds, hot peppers seem to grow best in Florida :-)

    Andrew, because making a left turn on Maguire from the Target is really difficult certain times of day, I sometimes use the sidewalk to go a block to warehouse road (usually walking the bike). That gives me access to roads that take me home.

    I see a lot of adults using the sidewalk on Plaza Terrace—a wide residential street with no center line and 15mph speed humps. I really hope we can move our bike culture past that level of absurdity some day.

    If half the sidewalk riders in this town would instead stake their claim to the street, it would change the character of our community for the better. When you ride on the sidewalk, the terrorists win. ;-)

  9. We are trying Grow Boxes. The experiment is on hold with the addition of the third kid. Hopefully the experiments will start back up soon, as part of my wife’s homeschooling. I am looking forward to the homework!

  10. Keri, since you can now go almost everywhere on calm residential streets, I’m curious if you think you would have the same level of commitment to vehicular cycling if this was the only experience of cycling you had ever had, or at least was your primary experience. That might be an interesting thought experiment.

    I started bicycle commuting as an adult, 7 years ago, with no prior serious cycling experience. I fortunately started out with a vague awareness of riding on the right and following the same rules, but I had never heard of “vehicular cycling” as a specific named theory. I think I learned it pretty much out of pure necessity, because my route is mostly arterial roads between two towns, with zero bike lanes, and inadequate shoulders for over half of it. So I wonder if I had been “babied” more with bike lanes and paths, if I’d feel as much “need” for VC as I do today. (And of course, being “babied” is one of VC’s primary criticisms of facilities advocacy, that it retards the motivation for learning the habits that allow for more efficient [faster and more direct] cycling while maintaining safety.)

  11. John, I don’t see vehicular cycling as riding on arterial roads. Perhaps that’s part of its image problem. Vehicular cycling is driving a bicycle like any other vehicle, according to the same rules and having the same rights. I don’t do that much differently on a residential street than on a 6 lane arterial. I just have fewer interactions with faster vehicles. That’s the beauty of a grid street system. It reduces the learning curve for driving a bike.

    When I moved to Orlando in 1986, I had no experience with urban riding. I “cut my teeth” on many of the same streets I’m riding now. I studied maps to find routes with quiet streets. In time, I became more comfortable and extended my range to bigger and bigger roads.

    There were no bike lanes here, so I never formed a dependency on them to give me access to a road. Like residential roads won’t take you everywhere, neither will bike facilities. The difference is bike facilities don’t always teach a person the basics of bicycle driving so the experience doesn’t lay a good foundation for growth.