Advertise on Bikeforums.net



User Tag List

Results 1 to 8 of 8
  1. #1
    Newbie
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    3
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    6 blocks of sidewalk in a 23 mile commute

    Hello,

    I'm new to commuting. Earlier this year I started to drive part way to work and bike the rest. After looking up the distance with out driving I decided to try commuting without driving part way. I think I've found a good route without much traffic except for one six block section. The six block section that I'm concerned about is 2 or 3 lanes each way and is very busy and intersects with another major street. I'm not confident enough to ride on the street in the right lane. Is it completely stupid to ride on the sidewalk for the six blocks? I did try and find other options, but unfortunately there are no neighborhood streets that would get me from point A to B. If anyone is familiar with Alexandria, VA, I'm trying to cross Franconia and Van Dorn streets on my way to Eisenhower.

    Loren

  2. #2
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    NE OK
    My Bikes
    '06 Kona Smoke
    Posts
    7,291
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    It's stupid to ignore your limitations. If you lack the confidence to take the lane for that 6 block stretch, then don't worry about it. As your confidence grows, you'll be less inclined to opt for the sidewalk.
    Last edited by no1mad; 07-02-12 at 07:46 PM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member degnaw's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Longmont, CO
    Posts
    1,575
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    No problem with it. Just yield to pedestrians, and use extreme care at intersections (at a minimum, slow to walking speed and check both ways).

    Also, perhaps I'm looking at the wrong spot, but google maps is giving me a 'suggested' on-road/MUP bicycle route across Franconia and Van Dorn: http://goo.gl/maps/WkH3 - it winds through the neighborhoods just west of Van Dorn.
    Last edited by degnaw; 07-02-12 at 09:34 PM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member terrapin44's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Southern Tier of New York
    My Bikes
    2012 Specialized Sirrus Sport, 199x Canondale M800
    Posts
    389
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by degnaw View Post
    No problem with it. Just yield to pedestrians, and use extreme care at intersections (at a minimum, slow to walking speed and check both ways).
    ^ This.

    If you aren't confident to take the lane it that stretch you are better off not doing it IMHO. Just go slow and be extra-cautious during that 6 block stretch. Use it as kind of a physical (but not mental) break. If there are a lot of pedestrians you could always get off and walk the bike.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Arlington, VA
    My Bikes
    Citizen Tokyo
    Posts
    297
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I'm familiar with the Franconia and Van Dorn intersection, but I've never biked through there. I can understand your apprehension - wide streets with lots of traffic. You're heading for Eisenhower (which I have ridden) - a pretty good road for bikes, particularly after you get on the MUP. Are you coming from the Springfield direction on Franconia, or from Kingstown on Van Dorn? If I'm not mistaken, there is a MUP on Van Dorn after you get through the intersection - it's getting there that is the problem.

  6. #6
    Newbie
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    3
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by degnaw View Post
    No problem with it. Just yield to pedestrians, and use extreme care at intersections (at a minimum, slow to walking speed and check both ways).
    I do slow down a lot (good opportunity to give my legs a rest). Of course try and stay out of the way of the pedestrians.

    Quote Originally Posted by degnaw View Post
    Also, perhaps I'm looking at the wrong spot, but google maps is giving me a 'suggested' on-road/MUP bicycle route across Franconia and Van Dorn: http://goo.gl/maps/WkH3 - it winds through the neighborhoods just west of Van Dorn.
    Yes the problem is that then I have to ride a fairly long part of eisenhower either on the sidewalk (not crazy about) or on the road along with some traffic, but the street isn't that good. This is actually the route I tried the first time I rode from home.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCFlack View Post
    I'm familiar with the Franconia and Van Dorn intersection, but I've never biked through there. I can understand your apprehension - wide streets with lots of traffic. You're heading for Eisenhower (which I have ridden) - a pretty good road for bikes, particularly after you get on the MUP. Are you coming from the Springfield direction on Franconia, or from Kingstown on Van Dorn? If I'm not mistaken, there is a MUP on Van Dorn after you get through the intersection - it's getting there that is the problem.
    I'm actually riding from Lorton. I take Telegraph to Beulah and then Kathmoore to Em. Once I'm across Van Dorn I take Brookland and head for the entrance to Eisenhower through the residential area. This worked really well yesterday except I felt a little uncomfortable taking up the sidewalk.

    Thanks for the encouragement!

    Loren

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    560
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    If you feel that riding the sidewalk is safer than riding the street at any point then there's no shame in catching the sidewalk. I've done it quite a few times. One thing I'm mindful of, though, is that pedestrians shouldn't be inconvenienced because I opted to ride. When I approach a pedestrian I dismount and walk my bike past the pedestrian. I know some might feel that's unnecessary, but I think of it as being common courtesy.

    There's a difference between a sidewalk and a MUP.

    I also have a commute that took me down some fairly busy roads. I used mapmyride.com to chart out an alternative route that allows me to ride roads the entire way. I spend most of my time riding through industrial areas before and after business hours (less traffic) and residential roads. The cool thing about mapmyride.com is that it keeps a running tally of distance, so you can adjust the route and see immediately how it effects distance - allowing you to tailor the ride to make the route as efficient as possible.

    Good luck, be careful and enjoy the ride (and the benefits of riding)!

  8. #8
    Senior Member nashvillwill's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    East Bay
    My Bikes
    Globe Vienna 3 Disc
    Posts
    268
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    First- I'll side with the rest here and say definately ride within your confidence level. If you're not comfortable to take the lane, then don't do it. You've got nothin to prove, so who cares. Just be careful on those sidewalks.

    Second- I deal with a similar stretch myself. When/if you do decide to take the lane, the safest way to take it is WELL before this stretch. Let me illustrate. The wrong way to do this is as such; You're approaching this stretch and you notice heavy traffic (several fast moving cars, big trucks etc) coming up behind you. You think to yourself "I'll let this group pass and then "jump" into the lane when it's clear. By doing this, you're not giving much warning to any second wave of traffic that may come and you're not establishing any traffic "flow control" that you need to navigate a stretch like this. What happens is the first wave moves through at regular speeds. When you "jump" into the lane, any second wave must slow to your speed rather quickly. This encourages cars to switch lanes quickly and do that famous "swerve around" (switching lanes around a slowing car and quickly returning to original lane of travel) that drivers love to do. This just makes it hectic and dangerous for everyone. "Jumping" out in front of drivers just pisses them off, even if you do it with room to spare.
    The best way I've found to do it is to claim the lane (when you safely can) well before a stretch like this and hold your lane well through the segment. Don't yield at any point. At first, it makes you nervous and you may feel like an a**, but this is why it works. By holding your line even with traffic, you are forcing that lane to slow and cars to switch lanes to pass. By doing so, you are essentially reducing the speed limit in one lane for a small stretch and raising driver awareness (for all lanes). This makes all drivers (even 3 or 4 cars back who cant see you) realize that there is something ahead they need to be aware of. People don't do the "swerve around", or at least do it more cautiously. If a driver is impatient, they can switch lanes, but have already slowed enough to have focus. It works and people are generally patient about it since you make your intentions clear.

    Do what makes you comfortable. Just be safe!

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •