Mapping the lake | RecordCourier.com

Mapping the lake

by J.P. Kelsey
jpkelsey@tahoedailytribune.com

The Lake Tahoe region has been steadily evolving into a more bicycle friendly area and the addition of an updated, printed bike map covering the whole basin may help continue this cyclist-oriented growth.

Upgrading the various paper maps from around the region into one, uniform map is the latest effort launched by the Lake Tahoe Bicycle Coalition. Earlier this month, the nonprofit announced that it is requesting proposals for the production of an upgraded, paper map. The organization would like for the paper map to accompany the online map they released in 2016.

"Oftentimes a local jurisdiction or transportation agency creates a bike map for a community," said LTBC board member Gavin Feiger. "That hasn't really happened in Tahoe."

Feiger explained that although there are various paper maps that exist for different parts of the region, a basin-wide map that also includes Truckee doesn't exist. LTBC printed 50,000 copies of a similar map in 2014, but the addition of more biking routes since then has warranted a new edition.

“One of the challenges is designing a circular map on a square piece of paper. It’s hard to find that balance of a compact design that shows detail.”Gavin FeigerLake Tahoe Bicycle Coalition board member

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LTBC will be accepting proposals throughout the remainder of March and plan to have a version to release by summer.

"It's looking promising," said Feiger. "We did a similar process last year for the online map and it went really well."

One of the main challenges of creating something like a bike map for the area is achieving something that is aesthetically pleasing, as well as practical. Feiger said LTBC is currently looking for designers who can create a detailed map while also reducing the clutter involved with labeling. Additionally, having a large space in the middle of the map that is occupied by the lake creates obstacles for design.

"One of the challenges is designing a circular map on a square piece of paper," said Feiger. "It's hard to find that balance of a compact design that shows detail. If you look at our existing map, it has big bold lines where the bike routes are, but it doesn't always label those streets. And if you start putting labels everywhere the words have to be small because there's so much unused space in the middle."

Coalition members have been collecting templates of other bike maps to aid in their overall design aesthetic.

"We collected maybe 20 different samples of bike maps from our personal collection of travels," said Feiger. "There are some accordion style maps that we really like that fold down into a thick business card and then fold out."

The maps are distributed throughout the community at no cost to consumers, so making the most of funds used for production has to be considered. Having the paper map be consistent with the online map as well as collaborating with a local designer are additional elements coalition members are looking for in a final product.

Getting more bike routes implemented around Lake Tahoe and designing a map around those routes can also be quite the logistical challenge. Feiger explained that having all of the agencies involved has just as many pros as cons. On one hand, multiple agencies help provide and secure funding and get the word out about projects, but it can create a lot of red tape to go through.

"You've got two states, five counties, one incorporated city, one town, a transportation agency, a regional planning agency, a conservancy and the community college has land," said Feiger. "The jurisdictions are great about working together, we just encourage them to continue to work together as much as possible when it comes to building bike infrastructure."

Visit http://www.tahoebike.org for information about the map and other projects.