Vacation Musings

by Executive Director Eris Weaver

My summer travels took me from a Maine island to Oahu, from the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) to the shores of Lake Tahoe. Of course I couldn’t help but catalog the quality (or lack thereof) of bicycle infrastructure and public transit everywhere I went!

Orr’s Island is long and skinny, with a single main road down its center – two lanes with little shoulder and no bike lanes. Small towns with little traffic led to a fairly stress-free ride with the exception of bridge crossings. I don’t think I ever saw another person on a bicycle there.

Oahu bike map

In Honolulu, on the other hand, there were many people on bikes! One of the things I love about staying in Waikiki is that I can walk everywhere and buses are frequent. I did rent a bike one day to visit a particular shop a bit farther away. There were lots of bike racks and rental bikes but not many bike lanes or paths, something the Hawaii Bicycling League is working to change. Drivers on the island seem less aggressive than in California.

Some weather and gear issues arose during my PCT backpacking trip, leading me to go off trail for a few days to reconfigure my gear and my route. I took a side trail to Palisades Tahoe (formerly Squaw Valley) and caught a bus into town. The area around Tahoe City has a good bus system – and it’s FREE! At the end of my trip I exited the trail near South Lake Tahoe, which also has a free bus system. The challenge for the carless traveler, though, is that these two systems do not connect – there is no way to go all the way around the lake by bus. I had to hitchhike or Uber to and from some of my trailheads.

Lake Tahoe bike map

Similarly, there are good Class I paths around the northwestern third of the lake as well as in South Lake but they do not connect. Given the speed and level of traffic in the gap, I’d hesitate to ride it. The Lake Tahoe Bicycle Coalition produces a good cycling map of the area and works to improve bike infrastructure throughout the region. They have a particularly good program for installing decent bike parking in towns around the lake and have been very generous in sharing their knowledge and experience with me.

Where have you traveled this year? Where did you see particularly great, or particularly bad, bike infrastructure? Let us know!