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Old 08-31-10, 07:47 PM   #1
Noobtastic
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Should I avoid rush hour?

Fall semester has begun and I want to keep on riding to school. My first class is always around 11am so I have a lot of time to sleep, eat breakfast, ride to school and change out of cycling gear. My classes generally end before 3pm too but I prefer to stay on campus to finish the harder work that I'm sure I won't be doing at home with all the distractions. Because of this I don't leave school till about 4pm to 5pm and my ride home is roughly an hour long.

My planned route has hills all over the place (can't be avoided in Tally) and two one-way roads on which I prefer to take a whole lane, on some uphill parts of the one-ways I'm going really really slow. Though no road I'll be riding has a limit above 35mph, the city explodes with cars at 5pm; the police are out and about but there are still traffic jams all over town and aggressive drivers trying to get home asap.

I'd prefer to go home as soon as I'm done because I'm tense, hungry and ready to lie down where I feel comfortable but I don't want to risk my life to get home early. I'd appreciate some input from big city riders here because you guys get traffic during all daylight hours. Is there any technique to riding among many cars? Will all the drivers be stacked behind me going at 5mph and honking like crazy? Should I just stop at a cafe or something to wait until 6pm?
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Old 08-31-10, 08:03 PM   #2
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I'd pack a dinner and do more homework on campus before heading home. Or ride to a cafe closer to home to do the "harder work"... I don't like to ride on busy roads during rush hour, but have no problem on even busier roads outside of that rush. People are extra-jerky until the work stress unwinds
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Old 08-31-10, 08:14 PM   #3
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No alternate routes? If you don't feel confident riding with your situation then maybe stay on campus and keep working or relax until traffic clears a bit. I try to avoid major roads in rush hour, I'm out there twice a week and the drivers are just too impatient and dangerous even though traffic is barely faster than I am.
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Old 08-31-10, 08:57 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Noobtastic View Post
Fall semester has begun and I want to keep on riding to school. My first class is always around 11am so I have a lot of time to sleep, eat breakfast, ride to school and change out of cycling gear. My classes generally end before 3pm too but I prefer to stay on campus to finish the harder work that I'm sure I won't be doing at home with all the distractions. Because of this I don't leave school till about 4pm to 5pm and my ride home is roughly an hour long.

My planned route has hills all over the place (can't be avoided in Tally) and two one-way roads on which I prefer to take a whole lane, on some uphill parts of the one-ways I'm going really really slow. Though no road I'll be riding has a limit above 35mph, the city explodes with cars at 5pm; the police are out and about but there are still traffic jams all over town and aggressive drivers trying to get home asap.

I'd prefer to go home as soon as I'm done because I'm tense, hungry and ready to lie down where I feel comfortable but I don't want to risk my life to get home early. I'd appreciate some input from big city riders here because you guys get traffic during all daylight hours. Is there any technique to riding among many cars? Will all the drivers be stacked behind me going at 5mph and honking like crazy? Should I just stop at a cafe or something to wait until 6pm?
How much effort have you put into route finding? Sometimes, if you do some Sunday morning riding, you can find interesting routes that beat a lot of the traffic. If that doesn't work, try using Google Maps to see if you can locate some interesting series of side streets and alleys.

I realize this is sometimes next to impossible to find, depending on your city and where you live in it, but I'm amazed at how often I find new routes I never thought existed.

One idea would be to throw up a Google Map with your current route and let us see what we can find.
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Old 08-31-10, 09:36 PM   #5
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In the city I work in there are typically multiple lanes going in any given direction so people can pass me by changing lanes. Also when traffic is at it's worst I can move as quickly as the cars. I don't have much for hills to worry about downtown though.

I'd not be comfortable either if I was going 5 mph uphill with a bunch of angry drivers behind me. If there wasn't room for me to stay far enough to the right for them to pass, I'd be looking for another way home.
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Old 08-31-10, 10:19 PM   #6
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If you only need to stay on campus to avoid distractions at home then I'd look into alternate locations to get your afternoon work done. Is there a neighborhood library closer to home or a friendly cafe where you could get your work done? I'd prefer getting most of the commute done in the early afternoon instead of waiting around until 6 in hopes that traffic will ease. If there's an accident or other tie-up you could still end up in heavy traffic - and many drivers would be even more impatient than usual due to the delay.
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Old 08-31-10, 10:23 PM   #7
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Right now I'm leaning on the pack your dinner for school suggestion, I already pack lunch and plan to buy a rolltop backpack that'll carry a bbq grill if I need it to. I just traced my new route on mapmyrun and it looks like I might be able to do it in about 45 minutes or less, my commute used to take 1hr and 10 mins because I took a mountain bike trail downtown for safety (rethought after I slammed into a tree after trig class this summer) but the road route is miles less. Miccosukee rd (county rd 146) has bike lanes for the most part and west pensacola is mostly downhill, though going back home on the opposite one-way street is an entirely uphill ride.

http://www.mapmyrun.com/route/us/fl/...28331424170274

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Old 08-31-10, 10:48 PM   #8
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Rush hour is my favorite time to ride. Traffic in L.A. is close to a standstill, or close enough that I can keep up with it for most parts. That means less close passes and more of me passing the suckers... I mean drivers.

examples




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Old 08-31-10, 11:05 PM   #9
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I can't tell where the hills are from the google map but it looks like there are TONS of alternate routes. I would try and find something that does not have much traffic or at least has slow moving traffic or bike lanes. Try cutting through places that cars can not go like big apartment complexes, pedestrian bridges, ect... It seems that the route you have picked is the same route that a car driver might choose. Change your thinking. Find residential neighborhoods to ride through.

Even if your alternate route is a little out of the way it beets sitting on campus for an extra few hours a day! Also, just buy an additional grill so you don't have to lug it to and from school everyday!
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Old 08-31-10, 11:34 PM   #10
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Well, nobody has said it yet, and no offense, but the obvious answer is you've got to develop more discipline to do your work at home in spite of potential distractions. That lets you get home with a safer ride and prepares you for the remainder of life when you'll have other "opportunities" to do work of some sort in the midst of distractions. Good luck.
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Old 09-01-10, 04:23 AM   #11
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My schedule takes me to work around the same time at mid-day. Depending on the day, I leave work at 6 or 7pm. My schedule is a complete luxury. I'm glad that I miss rush-hour in each direction.

That said, there are times I have to ride in rush hour on my days off. Those days I have the same experience bhop does. I'm never slower than car traffic. I'm either the same speed or faster.

I echo the routing suggestions above. It took me a couple of years before my first thoughts in routing weren't the major arterials. Traffic design subtly guides our behavior to use collectors and arterials preferentially. It takes observation and practice to go against it.

Finally, There are tons of skills and techniques you can use to work cooperatively with other traffic. In book form, I like Art of Cycling by Robert Hurst. It focuses on urban riding skills, mixing and blending with traffic, rather than fighting it. Sort of the Zen of urban cycling,

Online, the folks at CommuteOrlando have several resources. Smart Moves: You Lead the Dance is a good jumping off point. There's a companion video too, Bicycling in traffic is a dance you lead.

Where I ride, there's seldom a need to actively avoid cycling in traffic or rush-hour, especially when after developing good traffic skills. It may be different in Tally, but I'm sure that much of any problem can be fixed by changing your perception and developing traffic skills.
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Old 09-01-10, 04:40 AM   #12
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I have similar experiences to other posters - rush hour means slow moving traffic. Sure there can be some dodgy driving, but not really that much more than usual. I always ride in the rush hour, morning and afternoon, due to my schedule. I like night riding though that is fun - worse driving though!
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Old 09-01-10, 04:26 PM   #13
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Rush hour is my favorite time to ride. Traffic in L.A. is close to a standstill, or close enough that I can keep up with it for most parts. That means less close passes and more of me passing the suckers... I mean drivers.
I would say the same in DC area, but it doesn't sound like that works in Tallahassee. I'd go with the crowd - find a way to stay later.
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Old 09-01-10, 07:30 PM   #14
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Big city rider here. I've ridden just at just about every time of day in traffic all over Chicago in just about every type of weather condition over the last 3.5 yrs and I'd have to say rush hour traffic is the most fun ever!

I can't say I am familiar with what constitutes rush hour for you down there, but up here there is gridlock and slow moving cars (<25-30 mph most of the time) and the beauty of this is you can exploit gaps between cars and split lanes as well as being able to take the lane fully while keeping up with traffic without pissing people off, just as if you where on a motorcycle (watch that following distance).

Granted there is alot going on; people switching lanes, trying to make gaps, pedestrians, cabs dipping to the curb to get fares and car doors opening. So as with all traffic riding; scan ahead, use your brain, be assertive, be aware and be responsible.

To some it may sound a little too intense, but its really just plain old good fun and once you try it out chances are you will love it and you will soon get used to spotting the hazards and potentially dangerous situations even before the driver(s) in question know what sort of dumba** sh*t they are about to pull.

I lead brother and some of his friends from Union Station in the Loop (Chicago Central Business District) to a Critical Mass ride meet once (flame off please, they really wanted to go) less than a mile away during rush hour traffic and they proclaimed it was awesome and "like a video game!" (although one of the girls wasn't so keen on it and kept yelling "I feel like I'm going to die!")

Whatever you do eat a snack before you ride; getting into any traffic situation hungry and/or dehydrated is a bad news bears idea.
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Old 09-06-10, 09:40 PM   #15
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My schedule takes me to work around the same time at mid-day. Depending on the day, I leave work at 6 or 7pm. My schedule is a complete luxury. I'm glad that I miss rush-hour in each direction.

That said, there are times I have to ride in rush hour on my days off. Those days I have the same experience bhop does. I'm never slower than car traffic. I'm either the same speed or faster.

I echo the routing suggestions above. It took me a couple of years before my first thoughts in routing weren't the major arterials. Traffic design subtly guides our behavior to use collectors and arterials preferentially. It takes observation and practice to go against it.

Finally, There are tons of skills and techniques you can use to work cooperatively with other traffic. In book form, I like Art of Cycling by Robert Hurst. It focuses on urban riding skills, mixing and blending with traffic, rather than fighting it. Sort of the Zen of urban cycling,

Online, the folks at CommuteOrlando have several resources. Smart Moves: You Lead the Dance is a good jumping off point. There's a companion video too, Bicycling in traffic is a dance you lead.

Where I ride, there's seldom a need to actively avoid cycling in traffic or rush-hour, especially when after developing good traffic skills. It may be different in Tally, but I'm sure that much of any problem can be fixed by changing your perception and developing traffic skills.
N+1 on the Orlando videos - they are excellent.
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Old 09-07-10, 09:41 AM   #16
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my route has about 1.5 miles on a highway with a nice wide shoulder. other than that i'm on bike trails. google maps is good about showing you good bike routes.
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Old 09-07-10, 12:32 PM   #17
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Noob -- I ride in Tallahassee traffic everyday and mix it up with the cars at rush hour on my commute from downtown to the northeast.

Not bad in Tallahassee -- route selection makes all the difference. I enjoy the hills. Miccosukee is a good route, because of the bike lanes (part of my route). So are Park Avenue's bike lanes, from Magnolia to Capital Circle, and Capital Circle itself is good as well (part of my route, too). Blairstone is excellent if you are on the sections that have bike lanes.

Just stay off Tennessee Street -- that's the bear for you, coming from TCC.

Send me an e-mail and we can talk about alternative roads and routes.
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Old 09-10-10, 11:50 AM   #18
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rush hour is actually not bad cuz it has experienced car commuters who are stuck in traffic. before and after rush hour you have desperate distracted people or are more dangerous to you. if you ride a regular route at a regular time - the car commuters will get used to seeing you - instead of always having to deal with drivers who aren't experienced interacting with a cyclist on the shoulder, etc
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