The first stage ride of the No Excuse Zone-Orlando project was held this morning. After discussing the multiple route options with my team of volunteers, we felt that completing the north and south arteries would be a good step in seeing how the existing facilities worked in moving cyclists through the city.
We left Lake Eola and traveled east on Robinson and turned north on Mills, to ride up the main north-south connection between Winter Park and Downtown Orlando. Surprisingly we made it up to the intersection at Virginia in 10 minutes (2.1 miles), Fairbanks by 20 (3.85 miles), and finished up at Lake Avenue in 30 (5.85 miles). This was all done by riding in the travel lanes or bike lane when they were present. The automobile traffic was flowing at about 35mph+, but the traffic respected us as equals on the road and we had no issues with aggressive drivers.
The main issues with this route is that the bike lane did start and stop in several locations and this created confusions as a rider as to if the current "planned" bike route wanted you to divert off the main road or continue on. If there had been some wayfinding signage or better route designation, then this would have been a perfect ride to get to the Winter Park, Winter Park Village, and head toward Maitland. In our later analysis we will look at the improvement possibilities and potential recommendations.
On our return trip, we diverted over to Denning Drive and winded our way through some of the residential neighborhoods to get back to Lake Eola. None of the streets had any bicycle facilities, but their character was such that the traffic drove slower and cyclists of any riding level could feel comfortable riding there. The streets were shaded and the occasional view of lakes and parks were a pleasant transition after riding for 30 straight minutes in a sea of concrete and strip development.
This route took about 5 minutes longer to get us back downtown, but that is the whole reason behind the analysis. We can evaluate the different routes and determine the pros and cons and possible solutions to improving them. I am going to work on a graphic to add to this post to show where our ride took us and we plan on riding again next weekend.
After today's ride, I am even further convinced that there is No Excuse not to ride a bicycle in Orlando!