Close to 30 people attended the first workshop meeting for the New Jersey Bicycle Map, held yesterday at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum in Morris County. Those in the audience included representatives from several county governments, members of local cycling clubs, a prominent local bikeshop owner (Hi Marty!) and other concerned citizen cyclists. Representatives from NJDOT, The RBA Group and Steve Spindler of Steve Spindler Cartography were also there to discuss the impetus for the map project and what they hope to accomplish in the finished project.
To start the conversation Steve Spindler gave a presentation into how the map is being put together, from what sources the data is being acquired and the financial and physical limitations on the project. Mr. Spindler even honored WalkBikeJersey by featuring our article “What should a statewide bicycle map have?” in his presentation. Better yet he even liked all of the suggestions made in that article (I’m glad someone is paying attention to this blog).
Of all the questions asked by the participants probably the best and most profound was “what should the map tell people and who is the target audience?” This is probably the crux issue that will guide the final design of the map. Understanding that the map brought to the meeting is still a very rough draft, many audience members were still very concerned that the final map might not be at all useful for those wishing to navigate New Jersey's roadways by bicycle. Others noted that the map only gives people the idea that cycling is possible in New Jersey but that to actually navigate by bicycle the map should point people to other resources like county bike maps, local clubs or even other online sources like NJBikeMap.com and MapMyRide. Others said that this might not be such a bad idea as the map might act like tourism aid. Still many felt that the map needs to do both; aid in navigation while promoting the possibilities of bicycling in New Jersey.
Talk also did seem to focus on the relatively small scale of the map and that it might be too small to be useful for bicyclists. However, the discussion did hint that the current two-map layout is not a done deal and that other possible larger scale configurations are possible by either using larger sized maps or by dividing the state into more that two sections.
Overall, this workshop was a success. However one did get a feeling that the final product in this first edition might not be what many audience members are looking for, namely an aid to navigation. The potential cause of this seemed to be mostly due to budget, data source, layout, and time limitations in this first project scope. However this does not mean that this first edition map is already destine to disappoint. If the map designers can get a hold of good quality source data from local governments, counties, bicycle clubs and from cyclists themselves, this first edition map could still be a first rate product. Even if it is less than perfect all in attendance were reminded that this is only a first edition and that future editions and online revisions will always allow for improvements at a later date.
If you didn’t attend the first meeting, don’t forget that there will be two more workshop meetings coming next week in Central and South Jersey. From what I overheard, the South Jersey meeting had very few RSVPs at this time and that those working on the project really need to hear from the folks in the south whether they be government officials or local cyclists. If you live in South or Central Jersey please try to attend the next to workshops if you can to help make this the best statewide bicycle map anywhere. Don't forget that all are encouraged to review the draft map on the interactive website, (http://bikemap.com/njbike/) where you are requested to RSVP for the session you plan on attending.
Tuesday, December 7
9:30am to 11:30am
1035 Parkway Ave
Wednesday, December 8
10:00am to 12:00 noon
The George Luciano Family Center
Cumberland County College