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View Poll Results: Which option would you choose in my situation?
Highway for 1.5 miles 3 8.57%
Back road for 5 miles 32 91.43%
Voters: 35. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 06-03-11, 08:44 AM   #1
durty
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1.5 miles on a busy 4 lane hwy or 5 miles on a 2 lane road?

This is my daily commute dilemma. I live 1.5 miles away from school via a very busy 4 lane highway or I can go 5 miles down a 2 lane road and over 2 railroad tracks that makes a V shape to school.

Hwy Pros:
-faster commute means less time on the road (read: time in the danger zone where a careless car commuter can hit me)
-4 lanes means 2 lanes going my way and it's easier for cars to safely pass me.
-Call it Bike evangelism: the more people who see someone commuting by bike the more likely they are to feel like they can do it and the more comfortable they'll be driving around bicycles.

Hwy Cons:
-at least 10 times as many cars pass me, I see wrecks on this stretch of road every week.
-morning car commuters don't always respect my right to the road
-not a very long shoulder, maybe 0.4 miles of the trip.

Back road Pros:
-prettier commute, more foliage to look at, more shade.
-more time on the bike
-only 15 cars pass me instead of 200.

Back road Cons:
-more time in SC heat
-less time at home or at school studying (the no studying can be a pro too)
-2 railroad tracks are in poor condition and really jar me and the bike if I go more than 1 mph over them
-cars have only 1 lane so they either pass really close or have to cross a double yellow into oncoming traffic to pass

I'm sure many of us face similar conundrums. What would you choose for me, and what do you choose daily?
Thanks,
-durty

Last edited by durty; 06-03-11 at 09:30 AM.
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Old 06-03-11, 08:46 AM   #2
ZManT
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take the path less traveled by - you'll thank yourself in the long run
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Old 06-03-11, 08:52 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zmant View Post
take the path less traveled by - you'll thank yourself in the long run
x2
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Old 06-03-11, 09:04 AM   #4
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Back road !
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Old 06-03-11, 09:08 AM   #5
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The nice thing is that both options are still relatively short. I'd go with the 5 miler myself. It's a nicer ride all around & still wont' take you very long. You can always use the shorter route if you get out the door late/need to study more/ etc, but as a daily plan, the 5 miler will be infinitely more enjoyable.
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Old 06-03-11, 09:10 AM   #6
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more time/distance on the bike is always a good thing in my opinion. 1.5 miles is almost too short to even bother with a bike, might as well just walk. at least with the 5 mile route you'll make it worth the while to get the bike out and do some rolling.
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Old 06-03-11, 09:14 AM   #7
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I'd say back road because 5 miles isn't very far, and I'd lean towards the safer route. That said, if the 4-lane had decent ridable shoulders, I wouldn't be afraid to use it either. On weekend rides, I feel safer on busy highways with wide shoulders than on 60mph back roads with no shoulders, putting me in the lane. I know not everyone feels the same way.
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Old 06-03-11, 09:19 AM   #8
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does the 4 lane also have a decent paved shoulder, and what's the speed limit? If it has a shoulder and the speed limit is <50, I'd tend to take it just because its shorter. Take the 5 mile route if there is no paved shoulder, the speed limit is >= 50 or you want a nicer ride.
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Old 06-03-11, 09:19 AM   #9
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Backroad. SC summers can be hell, but the view is better and the air cleaner.
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Old 06-03-11, 09:50 AM   #10
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Back road, and double it! That's a short commute!
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Old 06-03-11, 10:42 AM   #11
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It depends- or "both". As with others, I face this daily. I ride the backroads in the morning (when it is normally dark except 1-2 months this time of year), but in the afternoon when I'm more in a hurry to get home and it's daylight, I take the busy road (actually 2 lane in my case but same dilemma). Plus it provides some variety, an important consideration also from my view.
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Old 06-03-11, 10:59 AM   #12
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1.5 miles isn't enough time to get your legs warmed up. 5 miles barely is. I have two reasonable commute options. One is 8 - 9 miles, one is almost 14. The 14 mile commute has a few residential streets, then a 45-55 mph two lane with a nice shoulder the whole way. The 8-9 is 45-55 mph with no shoulder, blind curves, rolling hills. I take the 14 mile option.
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Old 06-03-11, 11:12 AM   #13
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I guess 5 miles on the back roads would be OK if you can't figure out a route that would make it 10 miles.
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Old 06-03-11, 12:20 PM   #14
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Depends on the traffic, visibility, presence and condition of shoulders. My AM commute route uses a 4-lane secondary road (posted speed limit is 40-45 for a few miles) with a reasonable width right lane, no shoulder (hard curb) a semi-usable side path on one side and an older poorly maintained sidewalk on the other. Traffic is light enough to generally not be a problem (at least it hasn't been for 2 months!). For the PM route, I cut my use of this road to a minimum and use roughly parallel subdivision and tertiary roads, including several spots with 2-lane, no shoulder traffic similar to the OP's route (but not light traffic- no such thing around here). The 4-laner PM traffic is much heavier and just as fast. When I work late, I often take the 4-lane road home as well. Post-rush hour traffic is MUCH lighter, and if it near or past dusk, my lights make me very visible to drivers, based on their betetr behavior changing lanes well before they pass me.
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Old 06-03-11, 01:14 PM   #15
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Personally I would choose the 5 miles just to get in a few extra miles.
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Old 06-03-11, 01:22 PM   #16
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The 1.5 mile route sounds like exactly the type of road that you should avoid on a bike. It doesn't take long to cover 5 miles on a bike, less the 30 minutes.
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Old 06-03-11, 01:37 PM   #17
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What I normally chose is the shortest distance. However my 4 lane 45mph road has a shoulder about 6 feet wide but is never taken care of. If it didn't have a shoulder I would consider another route.

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Old 06-03-11, 02:16 PM   #18
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My choice was pretty similar! Six mile ride with about three miles on a 60 mph highway (admittedly with a nice wide shoulder), or 10.5 miles on country roads with about 1/3 mile on the same highway. I chose country roads all the way. It's quieter, I feel safer, and I like going the long way. But it's nice to know if I need to I can take the shorter way for a quicker ride home. I enjoy not feeling the stress of interstate speed traffic around me, especially during the afternoon rush hour.
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Old 06-03-11, 03:28 PM   #19
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5 mile road!
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Old 06-03-11, 04:20 PM   #20
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I vote for the backroad.
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Old 06-03-11, 04:21 PM   #21
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I do like logging extra miles, and I generally feel safer on the 5 mile road so that's what I normally do. However I did get yelled at today on the back road to "get off the road." It's all part of the bike evangelism I guess.
Thanks for the input.
-durty
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Old 06-03-11, 04:59 PM   #22
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go slow on the backroad instead of freaking out on the highway. i like the adrenaline rush of traffic, but when you ride it every day, i just feel freaked-out.
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Old 06-03-11, 05:08 PM   #23
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1.5 miles would be too short for me honestly. Depends if your trying to get a little bit of a workout though. I would take the scenic route and enjoy the road some.
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Old 06-03-11, 06:22 PM   #24
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Longer back road route, no question.

j.
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Old 06-03-11, 06:41 PM   #25
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Depends.. if it's anything like here, (which I doubt) then the 4 lane road is safer because of the extra lane for passing. Most two lane roads here have almost as many cars as the 4 lane, but without that extra passing cushion so it can be a little nerve wracking sometimes.

One local example, fountain ave, is a 2 lane road with sharrows painted on it for miles. I rarely ride on it though because it's also a road that drivers use to get around the busier streets, so it's packed full of cars that are close passing or piling up behind you if you're taking the lane. Often i'll take sunset blvd, which is a 4 lane road, 6 in some spots, (2/3 lanes each side) instead just to avoid close passes.

Last edited by bhop; 06-03-11 at 06:46 PM.
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