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Becky Jo’s Carfree Life: WTF Apple? (and other route questions)

Posted by on January 21st, 2020 at 10:46 am

Becky Jo’s bicycle phone mount sans phone.

Let’s stop for a second.

During this adventure, I’m going to be reconciling a lot of my previous car-driving lifestyle with my current carfree lifestyle. I’m excited to have a new world to learn about, and while I’m not technologically or mechanically inept, this is a whole new world of application. Also, yes, some of you will really want to send me to LMGTFY. Normally I would too – but there’s so much out there, and a lot of it is completely contradictory. There’s some serious analysis paralysis happening in my melon. I realize I’m in over my head, and if I’m coming up with these questions, there’s likely a hundred more out here too scared to ask, not to mention among yourselves it can’t hurt to info-share. I’m just the one with a keyboard and zero shame. OK. Let’s get going…

I’m learning now that comparing recreational biking to commuter biking is comparing apples and oranges.

After the biohazard Zipcar expedition, I am a lot less excited about renting a car for the occasional trip. Prior to being carfree, I’d never gone more than a dozen miles on my bike at a given time, and when I had, it was a casual family biking thing around Smith & Bybee Wetlands or the Portland Sunday Parkways. I’m learning now that comparing recreational biking to commuter biking is comparing apples and oranges. Recreational biking is a lot less stressful, just from the traffic-integration alone, but also you’re not on a time limit. There’s no “late” when you’re biking for recreation.

Here’s my dilemma: I regularly need to get to the NE Irvington/Broadway area from the Kenton area and back before my youngest is out of school. I honestly had no idea if I could do it or not. I realize that’s only about 6.5 miles each way, and about 80 minutes round trip by bike, but I’m new to this, remember? That seemed really far. Not to mention I live close to N Greeley Avenue near Adidas. I have seen some of you on that hill. You have all of my respect, but I’m not ready for that hill.

I’m still trying to find the best route.

I’m generally platform agnostic and can work on either Apple or PC. I’m currently on PC, but have Apple mobile products and watch. Previous to biking, I’d use the Nike running app which worked great with just my Apple watch, and Siri/Apple maps worked well enough for driving. Come to find out, Apple maps biking directions are nonexistent. Google Maps so far have given me decent biking directions, but doesn’t work on my Apple Watch.

So then the husbeast got me this goofy little handlebar mount and I put my iPhone in there to tell me how to get to Broadway via Google Maps. I actually made it there and back in less time than predicted. Well, it was like 2 minutes less, but at my level that’s like breaking the bank, right? However, I’m irked by the whole Google and battery life thing. That little 80 minute roundtrip with Google Maps running directions brought my phone battery down to 20% – a known Google/GPS trait in general, but damn that sucks.

How do you reconcile maps, directions, and traveling to new areas? Do I need to also always bring a mobile charger? I can only spend so much on gear at the moment, so I’m hoping you’ll tell me I’m missing something really simple.

two bakery boxes

Treats brought home to family.

Not to mention I’m that dork biking around town with my phone blaring out my directions. I’m ok being a dork, but it does send those little hairs up on the back of my neck regarding my safety and letting everyone around me know what I’m doing. Another trip I made from North Portland to Lauretta Jean’s for pie, cuz… pie is a destination, I came back in the dark and the instructions blaring out loud were necessary but really uncomfortable.

The husbeast is on Android and Apple (job requires testing latest tech.) His Samsung just picks up his biking trips, even if he just has the Samsung watch on, without even setting anything. It knows, it maps it, it tracks it. Apple does not. So he tested on his Apple watch/phone the Ride with GPS we found out about here on BikePortland. We haven’t tested its instructions yet, but it seems to track the ride as well as Strava on the Apple watch…so if it can also give instructions via watch, that might be a go… so these points bring me to…

What are you doing in your ears?

One airpod? I’ve got a set of Samsung earbuds I’m going to try as well, putting in just one because the ambient noise option doesn’t work with my iPhone (shakes fist at sky), but maybe you do have that option? If so, do you like it? Just use the phone mount with speaker?

A random comment:

I’m so grateful my legs have stopped hurting!!!

Yeah, I know I’m whining. The bike to school and back x2 commute is a whopping 5 miles a day. Grocery shopping + errands add another 25-30 miles to my week. While I was delighted to see Google Maps route didn’t include Greeley on my Broadway trip or any elevation like it, omg I was still sore days later. I could pull out a 5k run before this switch to biking without too much trouble. Granted the Olympic running team wasn’t going to call me up, but I wasn’t dying either. The upside? A few of my BFFs are SE-siders, and now I’m confident I can physically make the trips there and back

And YOU. You out there on Greeley and the rest of you commuting these miles daily, you are incredible. You inspire me. While writing up these posts, I’ve been mostly lurking online, watching you tussle in the comments and tweet the latest news. Keep on tusslin’ and tweetin’. You’ve got a lot of people looking up to you.

— Becky Jo, @BeckyJoPDX
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Easy
Guest
Easy

To save batteries, I don’t start navigation, I just use the list of steps. I try to keep the next few turns in my head, and then unlock my phone to check the next set when I forget.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

Unfortunately, the fact is that, because our bike infrastructure is so inconsistent and preferences for speed/directness vs. avoiding mixing with cars vary, getting directions for a “good enough” route for you is just harder for biking than for driving.

I found that the best website for coming up with a good route in an unfamiliar area for my preferences is the TriMet multimodal trip planner. But it doesn’t come as a mobile app, and thus doesn’t do audible, turn-by-turn directions. Pre-planning a route on it, printing it out/saving it to your phone, and stopping to consult it, is a lot more work than following turn-by-turn directions but may be worth it in some situations.

Honestly, the best I’ve come up with for audible, turn-by-turn directions is Google Maps. I supplement it with knowledge of bike routes and just ignore it for areas where I know the bike routes well. Sometimes I’ll put in an extra “on the way” fake destination to get Google Maps to tell me to take a route I think will be more pleasant than its default route.

If you have a median amount of direction sense, I’d guess that in a few months, you will know all your common trips well enough to have found your preferred route and take it with no app. In a few years, I’d guess you’ll know North/Northeast Portland bike infrastructure reasonably well and be able to guess at a good route to anywhere in your common orbital sphere without consulting an app at all. But although things do get better – the unfortunate truth is that (unless you are happy to take arterial roads with no infrastructure) routefinding for biking is significantly more challenging than routefinding for driving at this stage, and remains somewhat more challenging forever/until Portland has protected bike lanes on all arterials.

Alan 1.0
Subscriber

+1 to all that Alex wrote. Also, I like PDOT’s maps. The North Portland online version says it was updated 11/19. https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/39402

Michael
Guest
Michael

While these maps are adequate for many people, what we really need is something more like Salem produced for bike routing.

https://www.cityofsalem.net/Pages/bike-map.aspx

We have this

https://pdx.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=b51534aa6e1f4dd4ad4d83c4a084d9a6

But ideally they would both have better symbology to show what’s a good place to ride and what’s a bad place to ride based on the user’s use case. Some hazards are identified on both. Portland’s map is symbolized by usage type, Salem’s symbology is based on traffic AND usage type. I’m 100% sure there’s a better way to symbolize the routes in Portland that would make it clear which type of riding would be best suited to the route (commuting, tooling around with the kids, fitness, safety, etc). Like “bike lane” Greely is a much different experience than “bike lane” Vancouver/Williams. Even “bike lane” Barbur is quite different from “bike lane” Terwilliger.

In the end it’s taken me 24 years to figure out all my routes and then modify almost all of them in the last 7 years because traffic has increased so much.

Michael
Guest
Michael

I should add that having this kind of cycling network built initially on a custom map then uploaded to OpenStreetMap (not quite as simple as an “upload”) to have routing software make proper use of it would be the ultimate ideal goal.

The very highly recommended RWGPS or any other app that wants to make use of it would then have great cycling routing in Portland based on good routes. Garmin has their “heat map” routing which is sometimes good, but it suffers from using the most popular route which may not be the best.

Adam
Guest
Adam

Back before time memorial, people lived in a land without phones, phablets and phatches. Those unfortunate souls navigated their world using PAPER maps! I know, right. How did they even get to where they were going? Yet, after a few short trips of going slow, getting lost, and (perhaps) asking for directions they would begin to learn. And suddenly, they would find themselves with a greater knowledge of where they live and love. These masters of the highways and back roads could easily navigate the pavement tangle with only the slightest thought. And soon, you new bike tripping cyclist, you will find yourself sharing this ability with your ancient kin. Think of it as bonding with the past. It feels like you are better belong to the world around you and it feels nice.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

I’m really happy that the days of having motorists drive by and shout at me to ask directions somewhere are mostly behind us.

BrianC
Guest
BrianC

When I started bike commuting in Washington County ~35 years ago, I was only asked for directions a couple of times.

The most common comments yelled at me by drivers were:
1. Buy some pants
2. Get a job (and buy a car)

The last part of number two was implied, it wasn’t usually shouted at me.

A car load of high school girls passed me once and shouted “how much do you charge” and then drove away giggling.

===

I can’t remember anyone saying or shouting anything at me in the last few years…

Jason
Guest
Jason

I see a person on a car, they must be homeless – some motorists.

Jason
Guest
Jason

A good cyclist will develop pigeon-like navigational skills.

maxD
Guest
maxD

From Kenton, I like the Concord Greenway and the Denver bike lanes for n/s routes. Concord will take you all the way to Skidmore heading south. To connect to points east or south, I like Rosa Parks to Vancouver/Williams or Skidmore between Concord and 7th and Going between 7th and 31st- you can connect south using Vancouver/Williams if you are in a hurry and heading south.

Connecting from NOPO to SE or Downtown involves using a route with a sketchy gap somewhere. I commute from NOPO to Central Eastside 5X/week. Fastest route south: INterstate to Lloyd to MLK to Ankeny to 6th (MLK sucks but is not as bad as you think- Lloyd is actually worse!) More comfortable: Interstate to Esplanade to Taylor or Clay. N’bound is reverse but I either use the esplanade or the sidewalk along MLK which is really sketchy, esp. at the signal with Lloyd- watch out for right on reds, they seldom look right) Also, northbound past the MODA ona blazer night if super, super dangerous- watch for uber/lyft drop offs/opening doors and right hooks. If it looks like a game night, it may be worth taking Williams.

To avoid the hill on Greeley, you are stuck with Williams. Interstate is not too bad but cars tend to speed and the lane is narrow. There is a seldom used sidewalk on the west side you can bike up to increase comfort, but the hill is still steep.

joan
Subscriber

You’re not stuck with Williams! Becky, let me tell you about the glory that is the NE Rodney bikeway. It’s my favorite north-south route east of I5. Actually, for your loop, I’d take Rosa Parks to Vancouver and then go south on Vancouver, maybe all the way to Tillamook and then go east on Tillamook to 15th. For the return trip, I’d take Tillamook to NE Rodney (in between Williams and MLK) and then take Rodney (a neighborhood greenway) all the way to Rosa Parks.

NE 7th is okay, but it’s got a couple hills past Irving Park and it’s worse than Rodney and Williams. I don’t know why Google Maps is sending you that way.

Rodney is great, though. Most of the stop signs are set so you can cruise through without stopping, and there’s not a ton of car traffic. There’s one small hill just past Knott, but it’s not bad (and nothing like Greeley and easier than some hills going north on 7th). And it’s a lot less busy with cars and bikes than Williams.

soren
Guest
soren

“That little 80 minute roundtrip with Google Maps running directions brought my phone battery down to 20% – a known Google/GPS trait in general, but damn that sucks.”

You are using your phone’s data service to update GPS positions on a map stored on google’s “web services”. This is very data intensive and slow. If you download the Portland area map onto your phone via the google maps app, this power drain will largely disappear because your phone will only use the native GPS sensor. (The only caveat is that you have to do this periodically — every 3 months or so because google constantly updates the map).

If they city of Portland were genuinely interested in supporting alternative transportation modes (it’s not at all, IMO) it would have created a city map app available. (Instead the only online map available is the city’s worse that useless GIS-based online map.)

Allan Rudwick
Subscriber

I wonder if PBOT could update the BIKETOWN map to turn off all the bikes. the underlying map has a good dataset of bikeable streets

esther
Guest
esther

Looking at your map image up there, you had a good opportunity to use the Max yellow line to cut your bike trip short. That is, of course, if you are using a bike that TriMet permits on the train. (and their officers are being really really ticket-happy lately!) I am slowly training my (android) google maps to realize i want to bike to/from/between max stations rather than walking. It has finally caught on for a couple of my most common trips.

Pie is absolutely a destination! I go there a few times a week! But during the holidays i was carrying a few slices in my saddlebags down to friends in Sellwood and some car tried to knock me down (to take my precious PIE??) as i descended Clinton. So glad me and my pies survived. So tired of everyone (bikes included!) turning onto Clinton (and other greenways) without stopping to checking the cross-traffic.

Josh G
Guest
Josh G

@Esther and others

What does it mean “a bike that Trimet permits on the train”? I thought you could take any bicycle on the MAX.

****
Looking at your map image up there, you had a good opportunity to use the Max yellow line to cut your bike trip short. That is, of course, if you are using a bike that TriMet permits on the train.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

It means no trailers or cargo bikes of any kind. You’re on the hook to put your bike on the hook, otherwise, I think you’re subject to “fine or exclusion”.

Lowell
Guest
Lowell

For GPS directions while biking, I use one earbud with verbal-only directions from Google Maps. It’s not as clear as having a screen to look at, but I don’t wanna bother with any phone mounts or anything.

One of the advantages to biking over driving is that you become more intimately familiar with the environment you are traveling through, and I find that I internalize routes and require GPS directions much less frequently than I do when I drive.

Usually the first time taking a completely new route, I will have to occasionally stop if the verbal directions are unclear and look at my phone. The second time, the verbal directions + my memory makes it a smooth ride, and the third time I don’t need Google in my ear anymore.

Dave
Guest
Dave

A few bits. I’ve only been riding “vehicularly” in American cities since 1968 so I don’t know a whole lot, but…………………..
Learn to love paper maps, as a few other posts have suggested already. A Thomas Bros map book costs about 1/3 as much as a month of wireless service, well worth it.
Find, buy, and read John Forester’s “effective cycling;” should be able to score it at Powells for small money. It’s not gospel and there’s a lot of drivel in it that’s worth ignoring but the core of it is a method for riding in American cities and suburbs as they are. Cyclists in the US shouldn’t be like my grandpa in shul every Passover praying for “next year in Jerusalem (Amsterdam,) instead learn to make the best out of what we’ve got. EC is a good book to help in that. Don’t think of it as a written score–think of it as chord changes to improvise over.
Finally, and this might be censored or something but FER CHRIST’S SAKE KEEP SHIT OUT OF YOUR EARS WHEN YOU RIDE, okay?

turnips
Guest
turnips

for new routes, I sometimes write down some directions ahead of time and keep them in my pocket. a person could easily have directions written down and stuck to their handlebars or front bag, too. lots of handlebar bags have a clear map case on top of them that works well for this purpose. a plastic sandwich bag could serve the same purpose.

if I’m not on a schedule, I’ll just try to get where I’m going without any directions. the phone is available if I get lost. finding my own way seems to help me get to know my way around new neighborhoods better than following directions.

Carrie
Guest
Carrie

I’m about to post two controversial things in one comment. Here goes.

First, I actually USE the PBOT green bike wayfinding signs All The Time. Especially when going across town and when I’m in a neighborhood I’m not that familiar with. Over time I usually find better routes without weird PBOT jogs or infrastructure, but if I don’t want to Google map my route (especially when I do know part of it just fine), the green signs really do work most of the time.

Second, I ride with earbuds. My commute is 45+ minutes long and I like listening to Sarah’s podcasts or other geeky design information on my ride. I was of the “never ride with earbuds” camp for a very, very long time and I still would not wear them on a training/recreational ride. But for urban riding I can still hear and see better than most of those in the other vehicles around me (I definitely hear bike bells from people passing, etc).

joan
Subscriber

I ride with earbuds too. I read somewhere that listening to a podcast via earbuds still means you can hear more than someone in the car with the windows closed listening to the radio.

turnips
Guest
turnips

“I ride with earbuds too. I read somewhere that listening to a podcast via earbuds still means you can hear more than someone in the car with the windows closed listening to the radio.”

that’s a pretty low bar.

joan
Subscriber

Meh, I didn’t want to look up the article to figure out the details so I kept it vague. You can hear at least that well. I think we should stop shaming folks on bikes, you know?

turnips
Guest
turnips

no shaming intended. something that causes such immense damage just doesn’t seem like a great yardstick for evaluating bike habits.

I’m personally agnostic on earphones while biking. I don’t use them myself because I like to keep my bike time as free of electronics as possible.

joan
Subscriber

This might not be what you are looking for now, but there are a couple of ways I have learned bike routes (which is to say, the way I like to ride) a bit better: going on social rides, like Pedalpalooza or one the many rides posted here on BP, and riding with/asking other folks just like you are doing here. When I started commuting by bike, I was constantly asking bike-commuting coworkers which way they road to and from work. But, I’m a big fan of knowing a few good routes (like the Vancouver/Rodney combo from Rosa Parks to Tillamook I discuss above) and taking those for convenience most of the time.

jonno
Guest
jonno

Local app developer Ride With GPS now enable mobile route creation, editing and saving directly within their fantastic app. It will route you to your destination and do voice turn-by-turn just like Google Maps, but you can edit and save your preferred routes. For common trips you could curate your preferred routes and practice them until they become muscle memory. It also pairs really well with bar-mounted GPS units like Wahoo and Garmin so you can have a visual map too without eating up your phone battery. And you’re supporting an awesome local company!

Jesse
Guest
Jesse

I’m figuring that this quote is indicative of a privacy / safety concern “but it does send those little hairs up on the back of my neck regarding my safety and letting everyone around me know what I’m doing.”, so that in mind, you may want to edit the screen shot on the top of the post.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

I use google maps all the time to find routes, but I do it at my big “sit down” computer, and study beforehand to memorize major streets, turns, landmarks, etc. But then I’m somebody who likes to know where I’m going a few turns in advance, and I’m extremely visual; I do much better with a picture of where I’m going (map) rather than a description like verbal turn-by-turns. I use street view to click—er, I mean tap—along sections of a potential route that I’m not sure about just to get an idea of street width/striping/incline, etc. It completely sucks that as bicyclists, we must study a map in detail to plot a 5-mile in-town trip the way our dads used to mark up the Rand McNally U.S. Atlas for a 1,200-mile cross-country road trip in the Family Truckster; this is still one of the biggest inequities of the roadway system. But I digress.

The only thing in my ears is the wind and the whoosh of approaching traffic. I’ve never even attempted to ride with any kind of earpiece and urge extreme caution for anyone who does, but it is up to you what you want/need/are able to hear. The only reason I would carry a phone is to call for help in an emergency, and it would be off until such an emergency arose.

In the new world where everyone seems to rely on their pocket-brains for everything other than brushing their teeth (although I’m sure there’s a tooth-brushing schedule optimizer/reminderer out there for pocket brains of all flavors), I guess I make it a point of pride to use real-time brain supplantation as little as possible. Riding is one of the very few activities of the day during which I find I don’t attempt to distract myself.

EP
Guest
EP

10+ years ago, and pre smartphone, I used to have a framed citywide bike map (free one) on my wall by my bike stuff. Studying that for a minute always helped me figure out what bike routes would get me close to where I needed to go. After a few years of biking around town, most of the “good” routes made sense in my head and I could just ride and get where I needed to go without really thinking about it. Thinking about it now, I need to get a new map and hang it back up!

Glenn II
Guest
Glenn II

I’m hoping you’ll tell me I’m missing something really simple.

You’re missing something really simple. Plan the route at home and write the turns on a slip of paper. Save space by going
L Bryant
R Miss (Mississippi that is)
L Skid (Skidmore that is)
R Vanc
etc.
Slip that in between the back of your hand and your glove.
(Wear gloves, by the way.)
Dark out? Hold it in front of your headlight to read it.
(Use a headlight, by the way.)

For the route shown in the picture, the Greeley hill is out of your way – VERTICALLY. You’re on top of (what is most likely a giant sandbar from the Missoula Floods) at the start of the trip, and you’re still on top of it at the end, so don’t bother going all the way down to the river and then climbing back up if you don’t have to. You’ll start thinking this way naturally after a while.

Jason
Guest
Jason

Queue sheets for the win!

Jason
Guest
Jason

El Biciclero
It completely sucks that as bicyclists, we must study a map in detail to plot a 5-mile in-town trip the way our dads used to mark up the Rand McNally U.S. Atlas for a 1,200-mile cross-country road trip in the Family Truckster; this is still one of the biggest inequities of the roadway system.Recommended 4

This is tragically true, coupled with the vilification of cyclists.

Ben
Guest
Ben

I ride using a bluetooth bone-conduction open-ear headset, which is amazing. It is like the sound is a tasteful movie voiceover/soundtrack, while still hearing everything and maintaining great situational awareness. I’ve talked with a few other folks that use them while riding, and everyone loves it.

The brand is aftershokz. I use a Trekz Air, but they have various options and I’ve also used the older Trekz Titanium. If you can find some at a store locally, I recommend trying them on, but the site has good guidance for fit.

Safe travels and wonderful explorations!

thejason
Guest
thejason

soren

“That little 80 minute roundtrip with Google Maps running directions brought my phone battery down to 20% – a known Google/GPS trait in general, but damn that sucks.”

You are using your phone’s data service to update GPS positions on a map stored on google’s “web services”. This is very data intensive and slow. If you download the Portland area map onto your phone via the google maps app, this power drain will largely disappear because your phone will only use the native GPS sensor. (The only caveat is that you have to do this periodically — every 3 months or so because google constantly updates the map).If they city of Portland were genuinely interested in supporting alternative transportation modes (it’s not at all, IMO) it would have created a city map app available. (Instead the only online map available is the city’s worse that useless GIS-based online map.)Recommended 6

Actually your phone isn’t using data the whole ride! Google maps will cache the map when you first load the directions. You can test it by putting it in airplane mode right after you start your navigation.

The primary battery drain is your screen. If you keep the display off, you’ll find your phone will last much longer. Second is using GPS. There, your phone is talking to satellites 100+ times per minute. These two things will make up about 60 and 30% of your battery drain, respectively. With the last 10% from other apps that are running because your phone is “awake”.

You have a couple options to chat battery drain. First is to decrease battery consumption. You can ride with your screen off, or even rise without active directions and look up directions when you feel lost. Next, you can recharge whole you ride. You can get a dyamo wheel hub. That’ll generate electricity while you ride and let you charge. Of course that is a. It more expensive of an option. A cheaper alternative is to carry a portable battery pack and have it hooked up to your phone while you ride.

soren
Guest
soren

“Google maps will cache the map when you first load the directions.”

Not according to google:

https://support.google.com/maps/answer/6291838?co=GENIE.Platform%3DiOS&hl=en

“There, your phone is talking to satellites 100+ times per minute.”

There is no “talking”. The GPS chip determines position by receiving passive satellite transmissions.

http://www.physics.org/article-questions.asp?id=55

idlebytes
Guest
idlebytes

Where does it say in your google link that they don’t cache the map when you start navigation? Did you try what they suggested starting navigation and then turning on airplane mode? I just did it and while there were plenty of greyed out sections at every area of the map where I needed to turn enough of the surrounding streets were downloaded so I could see their names. Seems to be cached to me. Also I can’t speak for all phones but a lot of phones use wi-fi positioning to track your position for a fraction of the battery cost of GPS. Losing 80% for navigation for 90 minutes seems like a lot and isn’t at all what my experience has been. I would wonder if something else is going on like the screen being on the whole time.

soren impey
Guest
soren impey

It downloads a small area — not the 23 meg area map. Once someone moves out of that area it downloads it again. This is the main reason that people lose “GPS” signal even when there is line of site to satellites.

idlebytes
Guest
idlebytes

Are you just trying to be right? I mean it literally does cache parts of the map when you start navigation that is correct. I didn’t say it downloaded the whole map neither did the person you responded to. As far as your GPS signal claim goes how does accessing internet from a cell tower interfere with the GPS signal? Also again phones use wi-fi positioning more then the actual GPS signal to determine your position at least when you’re in the city.

soren
Guest
soren

“As far as your GPS signal claim goes how does accessing internet from a cell tower interfere with the GPS signal?”

1) I wrote above that GPS signal detection is a passive function and has nothing to do with your phone’s data connection so I’m not sure why you are being so argumentative. 2) If your phone no longer has local map data it cannot position you on a map via GPS or by access point interpolation. I used GPS as a catch all to illustrate this.

Since you seem to be so interested in pointless semantic argument, I’d like to point out that your phone does not actually use wifi to detect position. In fact you can turn off wifi and the access point interpolation position still works. Just like GPS it’s a passive process, not an active network connection (e.g. wifi). Regardless, my advice to download the area map locally still applies (and the screen does not have to be turned on for the map app to function).

Jason
Guest
Jason

soren
In fact you can turn off wifi and the access point interpolation position still works. Just like GPS it’s a passive process, not an active network connection (e.g. wifi).

I can vouch for this.

idlebytes
Guest
idlebytes

Not trying to have a semantic argument. I genuinely wanted to clear up that some map caching is done when you start navigation and wanted to just understand your GPS claims a little better. I don’t think I am incorrect about my phone using wifi to determine location. My understanding is it works with GPS to get a more accurate location for less energy costs and when a GPS signal isn’t available. It’s also why apps that always track my location don’t drain my battery as much anymore when it just had GPS. Anyway I still find it surprising that she would lose 80% batter life navigating for 90 minutes even if the map were constantly downloading. I would think the screen would have to be on that whole time and at high brightness. At least that’s been my experience.

I’m also fairly certain the google app still plots your location even if the map isn’t downloaded. I’ve been out of data range and had it pin me to a blank map track me and then got in range and have it draw the map around me. My understanding is it’s blank background has a coordinate system in place even if a map isn’t downloaded. I could be wrong about that but it would make sense since the basic coordinates don’t change even if the surrounding details aren’t there.

https://www.lifewire.com/wifi-positioning-system-1683343

soren
Guest
soren

“it’s blank background has a coordinate system in place”

fwiw, this is entirely consistent with what i wrote above.

Jason
Guest
Jason

Back before everyone had GPS in their car, they would print out a route map from Map Quest. Yes, I’m that old. Maybe even more so, I forget. In cycling parlance, this is a queue sheet. You can get a handlebar bag with a plastic slip on top, just the treat for a queue sheet.

I’ve used my phone a little, but you’re right, battery life is not very ample. I want my phone for emergency calls. I’ve got a Garmin, which is just an expensive toy. Although, it is nice to see how fast I’m going and some approximation of elevation gain.

My suggestion to anyone starting this whole bike riding shenanigans, familiarize yourself with the designated bike routes. There are two detractors against them, 1) they are not always direct and 2) they are not always safe. But when I say familiarize yourself with them, I just mean, be aware of the green signs and be open to following them if you feel it’s safe.

That and queue sheets. If you have a specific route, print up / write up a queue sheet. You can fasten them to your brake / shifter cables with small metal clips too.

Kristent
Guest
Kristent

Ears: Nothing. I use a RoadNoise vest, which was small speakers on top of my shoulders. It doesn’t block out ambient noises, but I can still listen to tunes or directions (or phone calls, in theory, I haven’t done that yet).

Plus, it’s high-vis and reflective and has pockets for small things. I use it mostly for running. When I ride a bike most often I am also wearing a backpack, so I have to pull the speaker straps of the vest outside of the backpack straps which is a little uncomfortable.

Pete
Guest
Pete

RoadNoise looks like a good product! Just bought one, thanks for the tip.

Gerald Fittipaldi
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Gerald Fittipaldi

Three things that really helped me:

1. Mounted a physical copy of the Portland Bike Map to a foam-core board and used this to plan out my routes before leaving home. The map is about 20-in x 30-in

2. Took a photo of the Portland Bike Map and referred to this photo on my smart phone during my rides if I got lost. Yes, by zooming in on the photo I could read the street names.

3. Sticking to the Neighborhood Greenways, outlined in green on the map, as much as possible.

Many people like Google Maps’ biking directions, but I’m not the biggest fan. All too often Google will put you on busy streets when there’s a nice, quiet street running parallel.

Studying the map before leaving home takes some time and energy, especially when you’re first starting out, but with each passing month you’ll get more and more familiar with various routes.

Matt S.
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Matt S.

Maps, good old fashion maps. When I first moved to Portland and before I knew the landscape, I would bust out my map before my journey and try to visualize my route. It didn’t always go as planned. Most times I would have to pull over and reorient myself.

mark smith
Guest
mark smith

There are a bazilion external batteries on Amazon. Get a real mount, something like a quad lock. Yes it works. Yes, it’s not cheap. Yes, your iphone isn’t cheap either. Personally I have a 10000 mah battery. It allows me to run my phone on screen for hours and hours. I have a little frame bag that hold the battery and my keys.

Pete
Guest
Pete

I know the guys who led off both the Apple and Google maps programs in their early days, and while they’re both cyclists, the bloke from Apple is a triathelete who spends more time running nowadays, but Peter from Google had spent many years blogging cycling trips around the world. They’ve both moved on from those roles, but in the bay area the google cycling routes are particularly accurate, FWIW, and I doubt it’s coincidence.

Depending on your generation of phone it may really suck battery for nav. The GPS chips used to be cheaper ones, and rarely do they augment US-based satnav with GLONASS (Russian) or Galileo (EU) like the Garmins and some other sport- or nav-specific platforms. There is also WiFi information carried in SSID beacons that Google uses to help navigation in densely-built cities. The more radios enabled in the device, the faster the battery will die.

Pete
Guest
Pete

And yeah, I distinctly remember driving in Vancouver, BC trying to find my hotel while Google consistently sent me the wrong way down one-way streets; IIRC one had even been turned into a cycle track. (For the record Vancouver rivals NYC for the worst North American city I’ve ever driven in… and yes I don’t think that’s a bad thing).