BRATTLEBORO -- Jeff Nugent loves riding his bike, and he's also a map aficionado.
So the Windham Regional Commission staffer was a natural to develop a new, highly detailed map of bike routes in eastern Windham County.
And Nugent did more than map roads. He also provides important information on shoulder widths, traffic volumes, riding hazards and other details important to cyclists.
"I did all of the field research on my own time. I've been biking around here for many years," Nugent said. "I got input from a lot of people."
The new map is available for free download at www.windhamregional.org/bikemap. Copies also are available for a fee at the commission's office at 139 Main St. in Brattleboro.
It is the fruit of several years of labor by Nugent, who geared his research toward road riding for an average cyclist. He said the map is not intended to designate specific routes.
"It's more about giving information to the cyclists about what they're going to find on that road," Nugent said.
And there is plenty of information: The map shows three levels of traffic volumes and four types of shoulders ranging from "unsuitable" to roads that have bike lanes.
Arrows point out steep or moderate grades. There are designations for unpaved roads and urbanized areas as well as for angled railroad crossings, which are a hazard for riders.
Nugent also has pointed
While there had been local bike maps produced several years ago, Nugent said they did not provide the same level of detail and did not reflect recent, significant changes.
"We have a number of roads near Brattleboro that have been repaved in the last couple of years," he said.
In particular, Nugent said, there are improved biking conditions on Route 142 in Vernon; Route 5 between Brattleboro and Guilford; and Putney Road in northern Brattleboro, where bike lanes were added.
"Some people don't like them," Nugent said of the bike lanes. "I personally think it's great, because it's a designated spot for cyclists."
Nugent said he has gotten positive feedback on the map so far. And Chris Campany, the regional commission's executive director, said the document could be modified as new information becomes available.
"With all of these maps, we always welcome public input," Campany said.
Jim Sweitzer, whose West Hill Shop in Putney is a popular destination for riders, said the map will be a useful tool and complements route advice regularly given by his staff.
"What we see the most are out-of-towners coming in and looking for routes to ride," Sweitzer said.
In particular, he said, road-shoulder information can help riders avoid common trouble spots. Grade designations also are valuable for some.
"Route 142 (in Vernon) is pretty popular, partly because it's relatively flat," Sweitzer said. "We don't have a lot of flat terrain."
The West Hill staff also warns riders about possibly hazardous routes; Sweitzer said an example is Route 5 between Putney and Westminster. That stretch also is noted on the commission's new map as having narrow shoulders in poor condition, fast traffic and poor sight distances.
The bike map includes a handful of unpaved roads. Sweitzer said he sees untapped potential in such routes.
"The dirt-road riding in Windham County -- I look at it as an asset that hasn't been discovered yet," he said.
Mike Faher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.