I have been using the Biking layer of Google Maps for years to find new bike trails and good roads for cycling. I was surprised to discover this week that nearly the entire length of Jeffco Boulevard is shown as a “bicycle-friendly road”. I was surprised by this because, in my opinion, Jeffco Boulevard is far from bicycle-friendly. According to Google’s definition, “Bicycle-friendly roads are roads that don’t have a bike lane but are recommended for cyclists.”
Recommended by whom?
I thought, maybe my memory of the road is wrong. It has been a while since I’ve ridden any of Jeffco except the short stretch from my subdivision to the city park. I needed to run an errand yesterday, so I took my road bike, traveling along 1.64 miles of Jeffco in “downtown” Arnold. My memory was not wrong.
This part of the road has no shoulder. There is a gutter, which is about two feet wide, and it is possible to ride in it. The drain grates are suitable for this. However, it is filled with huge broken gaps of concrete, shrapnel, large piles of loose gravel, and an occasional tree branch. Also, this space between the driving lane and the curb is not consistent. For example, crossing the intersection at Highway 141, there is no gap at all between the roadway and the concrete island, and it is necessary to enter the traffic lane to pass through the intersection.
The word “friendly” also reminds me of the attitudes that people in this county have toward cyclists. In just a few miles of riding, I received three or four catcalls, and one person honked at me for no reason.
I get the sense that someone in the county or the city may have supplied this information to Google, in a misguided attempt to present the area in an optimistic light. A comment from Google is mysterious about how they gather their data, but mentioned, “A lot of municipalities can supply this data directly to Google as well through the base map partner program.” I guess if I want to know whether the city or county designated Jeffco this way to Google, I will have to ask them.
I hope the city doesn’t think Jeffco is bicycle-friendly. I may need to have a conversation with them about this.
If I do, I should be armed with specifics. I should drive the road, get out and take some photos, and take some meticulous notes about the condition of the road.
One question I would like to ask is whether the gutter is ever cleaned.
Maybe I should hook up with some of the folks at Trailnet. I’ll bet they have an objective definition of what they would consider to be bicycle friendly. (That reminds me, I really should become a member.)