Posts Tagged ‘map’

Cover_ProxyNothing says ‘freedom’ like loading up your motorcycle with the minimum essentials and hitting the open road to explore.

The U.S. has over 4M miles of public highways.  But, which is the best road?  Where are the roads less-traveled?  Whether you’re looking for a ride on a twisty or a relaxed cruise on a scenic back country byway you’ll likely want a map.

Have you ever traveled Oregon 238?  It’s described as a ‘backway’ between Grants Pass and Medford and an exceptional alternative to traveling I-5.

Later this week is the Hells Canyon Rally in Baker City, Oregon.  I wonder how many riders will venture off I-84 onto the “Journey Through Time Scenic Byway” at Biggs?  It’s an endless set of curvy roads with incredible scenery and plenty of space to get lost…mentally!

This isn’t a post about planning out a trip to the Nth detail.  Getting on the motorcycle with the wind in your face and traveling to no place in particular has a lot of merit.  But you’ll likely need a map and I’m interested in the science of paper vs. screens.



Yeah, I know many of you out there pinch, swipe and prod an electronic device to determine a route.  I’m a bit “old skool” and think paper maps have a unique advantage that the more popular e-technologies miss.  In most cases, paper has more topography than an onscreen electronic reader.

An open paper map presents the motorcyclist with two clearly defined domains—the left and right pages—and a total of four corners with which to orient oneself.  The rider can focus on a section of a paper map without losing sight of the whole region: one can see where the route begins and ends and where one section is in relation to those borders.

A paper map is like leaving a footprint after another person on the trail—there’s a rhythm to it and a visible record of how far I’ve traveled.  It makes it easier (for me) to form a coherent mental map of the geography.  In contrast, most screens, and smartphones interfere with intuitive navigation of a location and inhibit people from mapping the journey in their minds.

Beyond the obvious disadvantage of needing internet to access internet-based maps, a digital map might have you scrolling through a seamless number of pages, tap up or swipe over to a page at a time and it is difficult to see any one area in the context of the overall route—the screen only displays a single virtual page: it is there and then it is gone.  I think the implicit feel of where you are on a physical map turns out to be more important than we realized.

But, maybe you’re the type of rider who rolls past the trees, rocks and moss in flashes with no trace of what came before and no way to see what lies ahead.  That’s fine.

If you’re the type of person who takes a more deliberate approach to your riding adventures then you’ll be interested to know that Oregon recently updated the official state map.  The last time it was updated was Summer of 2013.  The new map has shaded relief for terrain and new colors designating BLM owned land.  It also contains updated inserts of major cities as well as updates to state highways.  You can down load or order a map HERE.

Photo courtesy of ODOT’s Geographic Information Services.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Previously I posted an article about motorcycle safety and the idea of leveraging the States variable message signs (VMS) for motorcycle awareness.

These neon signs are peppered across the metro area roadways and provide information about traffic congestion and accident reports.  In addition they’ve been used as public safety reminders for drivers to buckle up, DUI driving and about the new cell phone law enacted earlier this year.

I submitted a request to ODOT, OSP and sent a letter to Governor Kulongoski’s office asking for their support and consideration in use of the message signs during Motorcycle Awareness Month (May).  I’ve received no response from OSP or the Governor’s office.  I’m sure they are busy.  My request to ODOT did receive a quick response (thank you Janice!) as well as the request by an ODOT employee (Motorcycle Safety Program Manager – Michele).  We were both promptly DENIED by the State Traffic Engineer.

The reason?  They don’t want drivers to “tune out” the signs and stop paying attention to them.  Huh?  I get that message signs have a fundamental requirement to assist drivers in finding their anticipated destination in the most economical, reliable and safe way.  And having a marketing background I totally understand the “tune out” factor, but a concern about message saturation is clearly “fuzzy logic!”

The exact response was:

“We have decided not to post safety messages on our traffic variable message signs unless they correspond with a targeted enforcement and media campaign.  Educational safety messages don’t fit well into our Variable Message Sign Guidelines of something that requires an immediate decision (what – where – when).  It might be a good approach for something like a massive motorcycle rally, along with some basic info on the rally, but not for general shotgun purposes.

If just general purpose safety messages become common, the impact of the signs is reduced – meaning people tune them out more.  We really want to keep the messages on these sign to issues with immediate impact on travelers.”

Let’s see.  If I’m following all this signage logic correctly then it would be valid for drivers to assume that when the VMS sign is blank it is disabled or broken too, correct?!

Not understanding the inner workings of ODOT, OSP and the Governor’s office, I ask via email if there was something the motorcycle community could do for ODOT to reconsider this decision and was informed the State Traffic Engineer decision is final.

It would’ve been so easy and convenient at this point to slide into a rant about “Why Government Doesn’t Work”, and use this ODOT example as the poster child.  Then I could drone on about the overt power that one individual – a traffic engineer – wields over the state.  I won’t.  I’d like too, but I won’t.  They undoubtedly have spent millions of tax $$ on studies about driver attitudes and through advanced mathematics know the optimum number of messages per driver that can be displayed in a precise timeframe which can be remembered by the ‘average’ human brain.

I’m aware of the MUTCD (Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices) and I’d like to see this memory analysis and how ODOT’s “intelligent transportation” signage system has been optimized across the entire range of safety initiatives and driver demographics.  I researched the U.S. Dept. of Transportation – Federal Highway Administration, Traffic Control Systems Handbook: Chapter 10, Traveler Information Systems — and a quick scan clearly indicates there are a number of appropriate applications for use of electronic signage around public service messages such as motorcycle safety, DUI or reminders to buckle up.

I haven’t given up on this, yet.  Anyone interested to join me in emailing ODOT or the Governor to “Watch Out For Motorcycles?”  Maybe I’d get more attention if I propose renting these electronic signs out to advertisers as a way to raise money for the state?!  I can see a “Commuter Special Happy Hour” message now.

Photo courtesy of FHWA.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Unless you live under a rock you already know it’s the 105th Anniversary at Harley Davidson.  If you’re unfamiliar with Harley then you’ll be stoked to learn that they throw a great party at the “factory”.  This year will be especially grand because Harley opens a new museum and the Harley Owners Group (Club H.O.G.) turns 25 years old.   

As is the case this year (and every fifth year celebration), there are several rides that converge on Milwaukee, WI. from all points across the U.S.   

In the Northwest, Paradise Harley Davidson (Owner: Mike Durbin) was selected as the Portland area departure point for the “Ride Home”.  The official Northwest departure point is from the Cascade Harley dealer in Bend, OR, but maybe every Harley dealer throws a name in the hat to participate and make a claim as the “departure point”?  Not that it matters because there are no special event pins or patches or new motorcycle discounts.  Just the fun of claiming you started at a departure point and made the ride home. 

So what’s a Ride Home?  Basically you join up with a bunch of riders who enjoy motorcycles and caravan to Milwaukee, WI.  If you start at the departure point with a dealer there is potential in coordinating motel rooms for the over night stops.  Or you can just get on your bike and head out solo…stopping where ever your want.  There is merit to both options. Once you’re in Milwaukee and arrive “Home” the festivities include music, street parties, vendor booths and refreshments. 

Above is a map of the riding route from Paradise Harley.  The dates and stopping destinations are: 

A. August 20 – Tigard, OR – 0 miles

B. August 20 – Boise, ID – 425 miles

C. August 21 – Idaho Falls, ID – 285 miles

D. August 22 – Cody, WY – 250 miles

E. August 23 – Rapid City, SD – 400 miles

F. August 25 – Sioux Falls, SD – 350 miles (+ day in Black Hills)

G. August 26 – La Crosse, WI – 310 miles

H. August 27 – Milwaukee, WI – 225 miles 

If you’re interested in joining this group stop in at the dealer and talk with Jason Ross.  If not then maybe we’ll see you on the road.

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I’ve been thinking about Rides and Routes for next spring and summer.  I’ve been playing with ride planners on the HD site, but they are U.S. based only (leaving out Canada) so, Google maps software is better and has features which better fit my interests. Also its much snappier than the HD MapQuest application.   Most unfortunate is the fact that wordpress.COM won’t support iFrames so, I have to do screen shots of the maps to provide you a visual image vs. just embed the HTML code.  At any rate here is some info for your review and future planning.

Below is the approx 2050 mile trip from Bend, OR to Milwaukee. This is the route for the 105th Anniversay Ride Home. When you click on the “view larger map” link below you’ll get the full map and all of the route details.

bend to milwaukeeView: Larger Map

This next map is a 2200 mile trip Portland – Las Vegas – Salt Lake – Portland.

pdx_las mapView Larger Map<

Below is a 678 mile Las Vegas – Zion National Park, Utah – Grand Canyon, AZ tour.
grand canyon 
View Larger Map

If any ride or route seems interesting let’s pull a plan together…

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