I wrote this article for Treehugger. It can be seen in its original context here
The Garmin 705 Mounted to my Touring Bike
GPS Units Are Useful
Affordable GPS units are tremendously useful, enabling scientists to track global warming, drivers to save fuel, indigenous groups to document environmental destruction, and so on. GPS is also used for fun and recreation; for instance, geo-caching is a popular “high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world” that gets people outdoors, and for several years Garmin has sold GPS units for bicycles that display speed, distance covered, etc.
Combining the Fun and Functionality of GPS
All this is great, but what if we could combined the usefulness of GPS technology along with the fun? Well, I recently purchased a Garmin Edge 705, which does just that. The 705 has all the features of a standard GPS bicycle computer (speed, distance), but it also provides turn-by-turn directions and maps anywhere in North America. Bicycles are already the most efficient form of transportation, but getting lost on a bicycle (especially at night) is not only tiring and frustrating, but can potentially be dangerous. So I was especially excited about putting the 705 on my bike and testing things out.
How the 705 Works
Since my bike is also my car, I often find myself riding to meetings or events taking place in new locations. Before the 705, I would either have to memorize the directions or print them out and carry them in my back pocket. Now, I simply enter the address, press “Go To” and start riding. As I approach a turn, the unit beeps and red letters flash across the bright, color screen indicating what I have to do and showing a map as well. All I have to do is pedal and focus on traffic conditions; the Garmin takes care of the rest. Since it’s designed specifically for bicycles, the 705 automatically puts you on routes that are good for cycling, or you can choose the “car” mode and click “avoid highways and toll roads.” Conversely, you can put the car on the dashboard of your car, unclick “avoid highways and toll roads” and use the GPS for driving.
I got the 705 specifically because on several occasions I got lost at night on my bike and found myself in uncomfortable situations. In addition, I simply got tired of feeling nervous about riding to an important meeting because I might get lost. Granted, getting lost on a bike doesn’t waste gas, but it’s a sure-fire way to arrive looking frazzled and tired. The best part is that not only does the unit come in handy when I am on my touring bike, but I also use it on my racing bike for training purposes. It comes with a heart rate monitor, and records all the important data on my rides so that I can track my progress. I can even record group rides I’ve done and then repeat them without memorizing all the turns I took. In this way I’ve found lots of new routes, and I never worrying about getting lost.
Making it Easier to Ride
I get excited about these kinds of technologies because I’m always looking for things that make choices that are healthy for me and for the planet easier and more fun. The fact of the matter is that it’s just plain easier to get into an air-conditioned car and drive places, and it doesn’t take much for most people to find an excuse not to ride their bikes. A handlebar mounted GPS unit is certainly a cool gadget, but it also serves a function that increases safety and efficiency. It’s not exactly cheap (yet), but it’s a worthwhile investment, especially for people thinking about leading the car-free life (e.g., canceling their insurance and selling their car).
Quote Via: Geocaching.com
More on Cycling
Why Cycling is to Transportation What Efficiency is to Energy
Cyclists, Motorists and the Law
Lance Armstrong Says: Commute by Bike!
The Bicycle is the World’s Most Popular Vehicle
Car? What Car?. . .Hauling Furniture By Bicycle