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07 February 2013

Bike navigation in Athens

Still biking on, times are getting better

So I've been biking to and from the office for one and a half weeks now. Not every day, last week I made the trip 3 times, this week not even as many yet. Still I already got totally used to it. I developed a bit of a routine procedure. I check the route before I leave on the computer (in detail in the beginning, more loosely now), sometimes making adjustments or trying out new routes. I then transfer the route to my phone (manually, the version of navigation software on my phone doesn't sync).

Neither the Nokia navigation nor google's maps navigation have a "bike mode" in Athens. So the routes that these two suggest always take the biggest roads they can find. I counter by setting strategic waypoints that force the route to more bike friendly small roads. It works ok mostly, but it's not yet totally bike friendly. For one thing the notion of uphill is totally lost on the software. Due to Athens being a maze of one way streets, the both halves of my ride take different routes, and in the one direction I end up with some lousy steep uphills to climb. I guess with time I will map around them as good as I can.

I also skip navigation for the last bit of my trip to the office, where both navigation systems insist on putting me on a big and extra aggressive piece of road. So I end the navigation route early, because at that point I know my way myself anyway. For the most part of the ride, I place the phone with voice navigation turned on to almost full volume in a sweater pocket. I don't see the display, but I get the voice instructions (and I guess it must be funny for bystanders to see this guy drive by with a voice blaring to "turn left after 200 meters"). I've been used to using the nokia maps navigation like that for driving a car too and I consider it much safer than trying to look at the display while driving. I expect that over time I'll get to know my route better, so I won't need the GPS any more for navigation.

The other thing I use the GPS phone is to track my ride and my times. I'm using a sports tracker software that shows me afterwards on the computer my times and where I rode on a map. It's interesting. It also makes me want to ride faster, which isn't necessarily a good thing. I have this tendency to wanting to ride fast on a bicycle anyway and arriving tired and sweaty isn't always the best thing. In any case, my fastest times have come down to 46 minutes, which makes it about half the time of the average that I plan for when I take the public transport. Not bad at all.


Posted by betabug at 23:29 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
ch athens
Life in Athens (Greece) for a foreigner from the other side of the mountains. And with an interest in digital life and the feeling of change in a big city. Multilingual English - German - Greek.
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