Sunday, July 24, 2011
I was going to go on an angry tirade about how poor Google Map's bike directions are, but maybe we can make lemonade out of lemons with this.
Google maps directions are wrong and incomplete, They need closer inspection to be ready for prime time.
Google, friend, here is my suggestion:
Hire ME to be your official bicycle route tester.
I'll ride around the country following your routes, critiquing them and reporting back discrepancies.
It would be a win-win-win!
Other than the guy peeing on the promenade in front of the Science Center the first wrong turn happened in Manchester. The bike path didn't go where google said it would. After looping around and around, I headed in an Easterly direction and hoped for the best.
As things were getting more and more residential, I thought it best to recalculate my route.
After a few more google vaguities (I just made that word up, you can use it), I was on the right track again.
The next misstep was my fault. A 45 year old man reading an iphone screen while riding without his glasses is going to make a mistake. That and the fact that google regurgitates an endless stream of minutia in their directions. But after a foray into South Glastonbury I was back on track and making good time.
When google kept my route to roads with route numbers every thing went fine. When they sent me on short cuts that turned out to be rocky dirt roads that end in people's backyards; not so much.
Sometimes google made assumptions when it said "continue on". Like that I should know in certain cases "continue on" means to take a left then a quick right, and another left.
After such an instance I recalculated my route, looked at the clock and realized, I was going to have to haul ass and make no more wrong turns if I had a chance at making my boat.
I was low on water, but if I kept the pace I was on, it would only be a couple of hours to N. Kingstown. Unfortunately I hit another googlaugity (hey look another new word!) in Sterling. Hope wasn't lost yet, but I really needed to stay on the rivet and on track if I had any hope. On a side note Sterling never gave up on the metric system and has it's road signs in kilometers.
I entered Rhode Island. One last recalculation. As I looped around the area google claimed the East Coast Greenway was I saw two things: singletrack with a sign reading "Dangerous Trail, horses use caution", and a man unloading his car from a trip to a local warehouse club. I asked the gentleman if he knew of any bike path in the area. He pointed to the aforementioned trail and said "they haven't finished it yet".
I did take the opportunity to speak to an actual resident of the area and he was kind enough to point me in the right direction.
At this point I'm screwed. I gave myself almost 7 hours to make a 90 mile journey, and the only boat I'm catching is the failboat. Before my phone's battery is completely dead, I call my family and let them know I'm not going to make my boat
As I pass a farm stand I see the glare of a glass cooler door. Glass door = cold drinks (or dairy products)!
1 coke, 1 gatorade, a water, plus the reassurance that if I continue on my current track I will indeed get to N. Kingstown.
Following human directions is a lot easier.
When I hit Rt1, I use the last drops of juice my phone has to find out where I am in relation to the dock. I pass a Subway, but really want to get to my final destination, and if this ferry is anything like the Steamship Authority there will be plenty of food options at the dock.
As I make one of the final turns to the boat there's a sign "No Pedestrians or Bicycles". I'm within 2 miles of the boat...
I get to the ferry dock. It consists of a rusted barge and a trailer in a gravel lot. I have 3 1/2 hours to kill with no phone or food. They do have a vending machine with cold drinks and I really don't want to figure out how to get back to town without riding on the highway, so I whack back 5 beverages over the course of my wait. The trailer is air conditioned, but I stay outside; I realize I must truly be offensive (to smell) at this point.
The boat arrives late and leaves late, which ironically if my original boat had done the same I might not have missed it. But they have a snake bar, and in less than 2 hours I'll finally be with my family on the Vineyard.