If you haven’t noticed already, there have been some improvements to bike lanes in Manhattan! Several new bike boulevards and a dedicated bike lane were added in the Aggieville area. The new bike boulevards are located on Laramie and Humbolt Streets, and the new bike lane was painted on 11th street from Anderson/Bluemont Ave. south to Poyntz Ave. These improvements are part of the city’s Bicycle Master Plan, and are only a small portion of the proposed changes to bicycle infrastructure in Manhattan.
I know that for me at least, whenever I’m in a new area I always like to check Google Maps and look for bike trails and safe cycling routes. I love seeing well-connected cities with all the bright green lines slashing across my screen. It has become a great resource for me as I try to commute everywhere I can by bike. Manhattan has a high population turn-over because of the amount of military servicemen and students and I feel a responsibility to those who ride their bikes in the area to keep these maps as up-to-date as possible for their safety and mine.
For those not familiar with Google’s bike maps, they’re very simple to use. Go to maps.google.com, hit the directions tab, and click on the bicycle button- the bike lanes will be highlighted in green. Solid green lines indicate dedicated bike lanes and trails, while dotted green lines indicate bicycle boulevards, where you’ll be riding with vehicle traffic on designated roads. You can even ask Google to plan a route for you by entering your starting location and desired destination, and it will then use the bike lanes to find the safest course. It will also display the distance of the route and an estimated travel time.
As the city continues to implement changes in bicycle infrastructure, it opens up the opportunity to allow those who are interested to contribute to Google Maps. Users can add new roads, notify Google when businesses close, and even add bike lanes and trails. All you need is a Google account, which you can get here if you don’t have one.
Once your account is set up, simply search for Google Map Maker and sign in with your user id and password. Once you’re signed in, you have to indicate which areas you would like to be a contributor for. Click the Manage Neighborhoods button, then click Add Neighborhood. You can then type in the city or region, which for us is Manhattan, KS.
Now you’re ready to contribute to features in the area! Any changes that you make or suggest are not immediately put into effect. There is a peer-review process in place, where other Google Map Maker users in the Manhattan area approve and review your changes, and then these changes are taken into consideration by Google. The whole process can take as little as one day to as long as a few weeks for approval. I’ve never had a change be denied by Google, and usually within a few days the bike paths I’ve added show up.
This brings up another important topic to consider, if you decide to be a contributor, you should check back periodically to review changes made by other users. This will speed up the process and provide the most accurate and up-to-date maps.
If you want to add a bike path or road that’s safe for riding, find the street of interest and right-click on it. A small dialog box will pop up, go to Find near this point and select it. This will usually bring up several red balloons with businesses, roads, and intersections near that point. Find the balloon for the road you want to change and click edit in the new dialog box that comes up.
There will be several options to choose from, you can edit the entire road if the bicycle feature extends its whole length, or click on edit this segment if not.
The menu on the left will change and bring up information on that road. Scroll down to Pedestrian & Bicycle Info. In the Bicycle Access tab there are several options to choose from. Select Segregated Parallel Lane/Trail ONLY if it’s completely separated from vehicle traffic and parked cars. Allowed no bicycle lane is the best choice for bicycle boulevards where cyclists will be riding on the road and sharing lanes with vehicle traffic. On-street bicycle lane is appropriate when there is a painted bicycle lane on the road for cyclists to ride in.
Once you’ve made the desired changes, go to the bottom and click save. The changes you made will then be reviewed by other users and ultimately by Google before they’re published.
Google map-maker is a great tool and will allow Manhattan to look the part of being a Bicycle Friendly Community. I noticed that some users have added safe and popular road biking routes, such as McDowell Creek Road and Zeandale Road, and I feel that this is a great idea to allow new riders in the area to find the safest roads to ride on when they want to clock some miles.
I hope you’ll take advantage of this great resource and contribute to Google maps and review changes made by others, especially as Manhattan continues to improve its infrastructure over the next few years.
Now… get out and ride!