No Excuse Zone-Orlando

As Orlando increases its cycling ridership, I am starting a small project with some of my cycling friends, that may help other commuters and cyclists feel more comfortable in using their bicycle in the urban Orlando environment. We are calling it the No Excuse Zone, based on a project that our company did for Sydney Australia with the same premise. Their project incorporated case studies from multiple cities in Australia and Europe where they performed this same process.

Our experiment is to start at Lake Eola in the heart of the city and ride out in all directions and document different routes that get us 30 minutes down the road. We think that this will create a map graphic that shows zones around the city that show people how far they can go in 5 minute increments. These routes will be based on the current conditions, but my hope is that through some deeper analysis, we can prescribe some facility solutions that could improve the cycling efficiency and safety.

Stay tuned as our experiment gets started and I get some results. The goal is to show Orlando that they have no excuse to not get on their bikes and ride! Ride on!

31 replies
  1. Grayson Peddie
    Grayson Peddie says:

    No excuse, I agree. But the problem is, there are cyclists who travel in sidewalks in N. and S. Chickasaw Trail (between East Colonial Drive and Lake Underhill). As a pedestrian, I started to feel like a motorist who’re starting to lose a bit of respect for cyclists in sidewalks. I’m sorry for posting that from the beginning, but the problem is, even if cyclists do give auditory warning, I can barely hear them due to my hearing impairment. My vision is not blurred and I don’t have any kind of diseases that can affect my eye condition, but I do have some trouble seeing incoming cyclists. Even if I do have a cane, cyclists in sidewalks do zoom past me (like going a bit too fast).

    About a week ago, when I walk to the grocery store, I do hear a cyclist behind me (via voice) and I move to the right to let them pass. About 2 to 4 seconds later, as soon as I start to walk comfortably in the center of the sidewalk, my left arm was hit by cyclist’s right arm. When this happens, I swivel my left arm up and back down, which made me feel kind of silly, but am I to expect to see cyclists from behind me? It shouldn’t be my fault if I start to walk comfortably in the center of the sidewalk. If I continue to walk in the right of the sidewalk, it just makes me uncomfortable and I could slip my right foot off the sidewalk to the ground, even without falling.

    I wish the sidewalks could be wide enough for cyclists and pedestrians without uncomfortably walking too close to the edge of the sidewalk. Of course, I’m not here to compare my arguments to motorists who insist that cyclists must be in the sidewalk, but I’m not like that, because I almost support cyclists riding in sidewalks due to starting to get a bit tired of cyclists’ improper yielding to pedestrians’ right of way. Some pedestrians can be embarrassed.

    • Ken
      Ken says:

      My experiment is strictly for on road riding. Sidewalks have been found to be so unsafe that we wanted our tests to be done on the road. Orlando doesn’t have too many sidewalks that are wide enough for multi-modal transportation or urban trails that provide enough connectivity to provide direct routes throughout the city. I anticipate our analysis to address these issues. I agree with your observations about conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists. That is one of the reasons that sidewalk riding is so discouraged.

      • Grayson Peddie
        Grayson Peddie says:

        Well, you know, I just got the feeling that I’d make this kind of statement (though I only keep this to myself and not to another cyclists and I know this is unwarranted) “If you’re traveling so fast in the sidewalk and ignore pedestrians, why don’t you ride in the road?” Which I’ve expressed my point about my frustration with cyclists riding in sidewalks (whew, I gotta calm down…) and that I am glad that you’re starting a small project for on road riding. *sigh*

        Good luck with your project. 🙂

        • Keri
          Keri says:

          Grayson, I agree. The way you were treated is no different from a motorist buzzing a cyclist on the road.

          Sidewalks are pedestrian space. Period. If a cyclist is riding too fast to yield to a pedestrian and pass RESPECTFULLY, that cyclist should be on the road. There is no excuse for a cyclist to have any sense of entitlement to the sideWALK. They are interlopers there. If you can’t get a pedestrian’s attention, stop, get off your damn bike and walk it past the ped!

  2. Richard
    Richard says:

    “The goal is to show Orlando that they have no excuse to get on their bike and ride! Ride on!”

    I think you mean to say:
    “The goal is to show Orlando that they have no excuse not to get on their bike and ride! Ride on!”

  3. kenaero
    kenaero says:

    I live in the Conway area and have found I can get to UCF or almost to Winter Garden inside an hour from my house. Orland is smaller than people think at times, so get on your bike and ride!

  4. Eric
    Eric says:

    Maps or directions based on time always make me suspicious. According to some people, the following places are “only 45 minutes away from Orlando” by car.

    Daytona Beach (Google Maps says 1 hour)
    Cocoa Beach ” ”
    Kennedy Space Center (1hr, 11 min.)

    Considering that it can take a over a half an hour just to get out of town, even Google Map estimates are a bit overoptimistic.

    • Richard
      Richard says:

      Kennedy Space Center is a 45 minute drive from Alafaya and Lake Underhill, based on my daily drive to work (obeying the speed limit). Anything farther West would be, of course, longer.

    • Angie
      Angie says:

      How is Alafaya not Orlando? I guess it depends on where on Alafaya, but UCF has a postal address of Orlando, FL.

      To me, that is one of the huge problems with Orlando–there are too many of them.

      • Eric
        Eric says:

        I think you have to go all the way out to Christmas before “Orlando” stops. Maybe further.

        Avalon Park used to be the old Rocket City subdivision. It was named Rocket City because it was half-way to the Cape from Orlando, yet people there have an Orlando address, just a way-out-there zip code.

        My point is simple. Time estimates are easily manipulated. Most people know this and are wary of them.

        • NE2
          NE2 says:

          Rocket City is Wedgefield, across the Econ from Avalon Park. It’s still a low-density suburb.

          (One good thing about spam – it gets us reading old posts :))

  5. Ken
    Ken says:

    The Amsterdam and other city rides were done at 13 mph and the differences in how far they could go was based on the facilities that were provided. That is why each of the cities that were surveyed have significantly different distances that they were able to travel.

    In my experiment we are using a couple of controls; maintaining a speed of 13mph average and we are stopping at all red lights and stop signs. Otherwise we could just draw a circle that is 6.5 miles from the center, but we are riding every mile and will try to be as consistent as possible. The main thing is to show people that you can get a pretty far distance on a bike, in a short period of time. The other main thing is to see where upgrade/addition of facilities can occur to improve efficiency and route continuity. Give me a few weeks and I’ll share what I am seeing out there.

  6. Eric
    Eric says:

    “speed of 13mph average”

    That is an awfully fast average speed for people in Amsterdam. Do you think the citizen in the picture I linked to could do that? On an Oma fiet? They don’t ride very fast there. In fact, having traveled pretty extensively, only US riders ride quickly on a regular basis.

    Having chosen my cycling pace many years ago without any one around to tell me what it was “supposed” to be, I fit right in when I was riding in Rotterdam and Bavaria.

    I’ve never owned a computer and really didn’t care to, but last week I tried a little GPS unit that I bought for my work, on my bicycle.

    It claims that my cruising speed is between 10-12 mph. That is the speed I travel when I don’t want to get out of breath and just have a comfortable ride. I wouldn’t want to go much faster than that and if I had tried to ride at 20 mph in Europe, they would have thought I was a danger to myself and other cyclists.

    Stopping at all the lights and stop signs would mean I would be going much slower, on average, than 10-12 mph.

    • Amsterdamize
      Amsterdamize says:

      Regarding speed, average speed, stopping and distances, the comments here are a bit distorting.

      Distance: Yes, in cities like Amsterdam lots of people make short trips, but many short trips, because…their destinations are closeby. Don’t be fooled. On average, a Dutchie (man/woman/senior/teenager/etc) cycles 1000 km a year. It is often believed by people from countries with low cycling rates that the Dutch only make short journeys. That of course is not the truth. Across the whole of the Netherlands, 35% of all(!) trips for all purposes that are under 7.5 km are made by bike. So are 15% of journeys between 7.5 and 15 km and 3% of journeys over 15 km.

      The same distances that most Americans, British and Australians, for instance, choose to cover by car, with national averages between 0.5 or less than 1%. The difference lies of course in the fact that many can’t opt for the bike, because of the lack of safe provisions/infrastructure > a major problem when we talk actual and subjective safety.

      Speed: it’s not about the type of bike, it’s about the person. I can’t keep count the nr of times a visitor mentions how fast they think we go. On our beater bikes, or beautiful 10-speeds, or bakfiets or whatever. That’s all in relative terms, of course. But, we go from A to B and we don’t mess about. Then again, generally speaking, we don’t like to race either. It’s not the Tour de France, you should enjoy it. There’s no point to racing, either. It will only save you a few minutes, tops, not worth the sweat. That’s why you’ll see people just dress for whatever occasion and get on a bike. “What do you mean, cycle gear? I have a wardrobe!” :). Regarding the linked picture of the beautiful girl on the blue bike: you’d be surprised how quickly she can get around ;).

      Of course we also have our speed demons, not many, but we do and you don’t hear them complain. First, people here are very used to cycling in close proximity to each other, and second, there are some ‘rules of the path’ that most abide to. Using a car metaphor, someone in a Veyron won’t ever think he’ll be able to floor it and reach top speed in a residential area.

      If you look closely in Amsterdam or any other city in the Netherlands, you will see that cycle paths / routes always provide either a shorter route, the right of way over cars and more and more you’ll ride a ‘green wave’ path. Cars have to give way to bicycles when at a crossing and one way streets always exempt cyclists.
      It’s not just paths, but the way the city has chosen the bicycle as main transportation. Traffic calming where needed, segregation for busier roads.

      Anyway, hope that clears up a few things. I lived in NYC in the early 90’s, I rode my Dutch bike there every day (and often got ridiculed for it). Nobody deemed it possible for anyone but crazy bike messengers to use bicycles as daily transportation. I recently went back there after a 3 year hiatus and look at it now, cycling is becoming the norm!

      I’ve been following Florida’s progress (Miami) for some time now, it’s a whole different ball game than NYC, but it can work anywhere.


      • Ken
        Ken says:

        Great points Marc. I am envious of European commuting and hope that one day the US will get their act together and give cycling the same respect on the road that the do other forms of transportation. Please check my update post from this past weekend to see how this little project is progressing. The map graphic that is emerging is definitely revealing what I wanted it to. Ride on!

  7. Ken
    Ken says:

    Please don’t get lost in the weeds of the details before we get this thing going. The whole thing is about making a point and creating a route guide that we think is the safest and easiest for people to ride on.

    The 13mph came from the Sydney study, I assume that they did the same speed at all of the cities, but maybe they adjusted it to the normal pace of the riders around them. I know that we did a sample ride last weekend and at 13 mph we got passed by a teenage girl on a mountain bike on the sidewalk, so we felt that we were being conservative and riding at a pace that would fit most riders. This test isn’t going to be exact for every rider. If we see that our speed range changes or needs to be adjusted, we definitely will. Some of the routes will be on brick so 13 will be too fast, but in other areas we may be hitting 15 downhill on pavement, that is why the average seems to work out to be about 13. You also have to realize that once you get 10 minutes from Lake Eola, and are out of the urban core, you can ride without encountering as many intersections and can cover ground fairly fast.

  8. Keri
    Keri says:

    I tend to cruise in the 12mph range as well, especially when I don’t want to get sweaty.

    I really like this idea a lot. One thing you might want to consider is emphasizing pleasantness, scenery, shade, etc. Even if a route takes longer, if I can use it to unwind and enjoy my surroundings, that’s exponentially better than being stressed out in traffic.

    …facility solutions that could improve the cycling efficiency and safety.

    This may seem like a nitpick, but I really don’t like “safety” applied to a route, road or facility. Safety is really a behavior issue. I can ride safely on 436. I like “efficiency” ALOT, especially when it means enhanced access to a straighter route through a low-volume street network.

    I like to frame routes on low volume roads or trails as quiet, pleasant or enjoyable. Aside from safety being a behavior issue, it can be a misleading label. Not to any alarming degree, but sometimes they contain unexpected hazards that are more real than the mythological dangers we project onto the bigger roads. For example, low-volume bike routes are the only place I’ve had close calls with stop-sign-running motorists.

  9. Ken
    Ken says:

    I am definitely going to take everything folks are saying into consideration. That is one of the main reason that I am publishing the results as we go, so I can get instant feedback and adjust as necessary. I really appreciate all of the input.

    I used the term safety, when I probably should have used perceived safety. We are going to be hitting Orange Ave, Conway, and several other roads that many riders may not perceive as being safe on a bicycle. That is why education and setting a good example, as safe and responsible riders, is so important to teach people about the proper ways to ride, and teach automobile drivers how to interact with cyclists and pedestrians.

  10. MikeOnBike
    MikeOnBike says:

    When you talk about “average” speed, are you talking about door-to-door speed, or cruising speed?

    If I look down at my computer and it says I’m going 13, that doesn’t mean I can travel 6.5 miles in town in 30 minutes. With traffic signals, it might be more like 5 miles.

    • MikeOnBike
      MikeOnBike says:

      For in-town riding, my rule of thumb is it takes me about 6 minutes on average to travel a mile. With fewer intersections, that improves to 5 minutes per mile.

  11. Ken
    Ken says:

    Door to door speed.

    Otherwise we could just draw a 6.5 mile radius circle from Lake Eola. We are traveling at reasonable speeds and hope to get the average at about 13, over a 30 minute trip. We felt that it was a reasonable speed and will adjust as necessary.

    • Eric
      Eric says:

      Do me a favor. Before you spend a bunch of money and time on graphics and printing, post the potential route here or on Map My Ride or Google Maps or something.

      Since I am old and slow, I’ll try it/them out and report back what happened. Your target audience is probably more like me than the teenage girl on her way to her friend’s house two blocks over.

    • MikeOnBike
      MikeOnBike says:

      Based on my odometer and a and clock, my door-to-door speed in town is about 10 MPH, which includes time waiting at red lights (0 MPH).

      Based on what my bike computer says, my *moving* average is about 12 MPH. The bike computer stops counting when the bike stops moving.

  12. Rick
    Rick says:

    Ken, I live downtown and would be willing to keep track of data if you want some help. BTW, I tend to go fast, but am trying to slow down for safety and sanity’s sake. Let me know if you want another rider.

    • Ken
      Ken says:

      Rick, we are going to be doing a surveying ride this Sunday morning at 10. I don’t know which direction we are going, but I have 2 other guys lined up already and can always use another person that is looking to log some miles. I’ll keep you posted toward the end of the week about the details. Thanks

    • Ken
      Ken says:

      Sorry for the late notice. We are leaving at 10am from the front of 200 N. Orange Ave (across from Cafe Annies/old Mini dealorship). We will be out until about noon. I’ll give you better notice for the next ride. We had a wedding last night and wasn’t sure if the group was going to be in a condition to ride.

  13. Ken
    Ken says:

    Rick, We are leaving at 10am from the front of 200 N. Orange Ave (across from Cafe Annies/old Mini dealership). We will be out until about noon. We are planning on going toward Winter Park, via Cady Way Trail.

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