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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 03-25-08, 08:21 AM   #1
gwd
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Short Cuts

I've been riding Shank's mare lately and discovering new routes. Last weekend I talked a suburban friend into walking to the mall. The obvious route provided by our urban planners for pedestrian access seemed so round about that I kept my eyes peeled for alternatives. Yes. Other pedestrians had blazed a trail. I noticed a chain link fence with a man sized cut and a worn path. Then I noticed some conveniently placed stepping stones in a drainage ditch in front of a storm sewer culvert. Yes. If graffiti vandals can get in there we can too. The pipe led under the train and metro tracks. I think the short cut saved about 15 minutes each way over the urban planned route. The straddle legged walk needed to keep the feet dry wasn't so bad. I think storm sewer routing would be good to keep in mind when you're walking somewhere and faced with a car centric obstacle.
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Old 03-25-08, 09:13 AM   #2
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Good scouting, gwd. Watch out for cops if you're trespassing. I have my own shortcuts. One involves taking a path through a woodlot, crossing an unused RR track, and "sneaking" through the parking lot of a little factory. It takes more than 1/2 mile off my commute to work. When it's not real muddy or snowy, I can do it without getting off my bike.
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Old 03-25-08, 09:55 AM   #3
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This kinda reminds me, a long time ago I was working for this company where the train would stop right down the block from the building. Unfortunately, the way to the building was fenced off and you had to climb a ditch to get to work. OR, you can go the "legal" route and walk all the way around the chain fence, and then back two blocks. Everyone just climbed over the fence when security weren't watching.

I don't work there now, but I have noticed that nowadays there's an awesome pedestrian access to that area.

If enough people travel it enough, a way will be made.
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Old 03-25-08, 01:16 PM   #4
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Most people would feel helpless without a car, but it can actually open up all sorts of new and clever routes for those on foot or bike. Sometimes, that's half the fun!
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Old 03-25-08, 01:37 PM   #5
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The best shortcut I ever had was going through the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve in San Diego. It was 6.5 miles of wide dirt road down the center of the preserve. I saved 1.7 miles by going through it, but when you get to commute among coyotes, skunks, bobcats, deer and other creatures, the mileage saved is almost secondary.

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Old 03-25-08, 02:39 PM   #6
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On our walk to school in my youth, we would cut across a strawberry field so often , we wore a path into it.

Naturally, we called it our strawberry shortcut!
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Old 03-25-08, 03:33 PM   #7
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The roadies I ran with during my days in The Orange (CA) County Wheelmen wondered where I found all the short-cuts I dragged them through. Easy, I am always wondering where little bits of pavement and bare dirt disappear to and I go out of my way to check them. I do not mind having to turn around and retrace my steps if it does not work out.
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Old 03-25-08, 03:36 PM   #8
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The best shortcut I ever had was going through the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve in San Diego. It was 6.5 miles of wide dirt road down the center of the preserve. I saved 1.7 miles by going through it, but when you get to commute among coyotes, skunks, bobcats, deer and other creatures, the mileage saved is almost secondary.
It is fun to find the wild spaces that are left, sometimes right in the heart of the city. A couple years ago there was a discussion here about the many paths in San Diego that go under freeways, and can often save many bicycle miles. The guy who "discovered" those paths said they were clearly visible in Google Maps photos, but nearly invisible from the ground.

This whold thread is a good illustration of why a mountain bike can be the best city bike.
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Old 03-25-08, 04:21 PM   #9
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I had a competition today with a friend from my volunteer job. We had to go the another location for a certification test. We left at the same time, she went on the road. I walked my bike throught the back, tossed it (thank God its a strudy single speed) over a fence, and into the parking lot of our destination. By car it takes about 4 minutes to get there. I got there in about 45 seconds, without even riding. I did get a little muddy.
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Old 03-25-08, 06:02 PM   #10
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Most of my "short" cuts are little more than "Scenic" cuts. I don't care much about saving mileage. I don't measure my biking progress in such a manner. I want to stay off the main roads and get away from cars. They don't look out for bikes/pedestrians in this county and I can usually find wildflowers or a nice grassy place that would be good for a future picnic.

Yesterday, when I went to the airport, I pushed my bike up a grassy knoll instead of using the half-suburb style road to go around. On my way back out of the airport, I passed a Prius on my bike. She looked surprised.
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Old 03-25-08, 06:35 PM   #11
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I ride a touring bike with a lot of cyclocross elements in it so I can get just about anywhere as long as there's a trail.

There's an old railway bed I can use to get into Penticton. It takes just as long as the highway but it's a lot more pleasant, just for the scenery. Also, because the railway grades are never more than 2.2 per cent, it's a nice way for me to avoid a huge hill.
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Old 03-25-08, 06:56 PM   #12
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I ride a touring bike with a lot of cyclocross elements in it so I can get just about anywhere as long as there's a trail.

There's an old railway bed I can use to get into Penticton. It takes just as long as the highway but it's a lot more pleasant, just for the scenery. Also, because the railway grades are never more than 2.2 per cent, it's a nice way for me to avoid a huge hill
.
I bet there's wild raspberries in the summertime too. MMMM.....

(Of course, in BC where there's berries, there's usually bears!)
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Old 03-25-08, 07:05 PM   #13
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I think of Google Earth as one of the more interesting ideas in the last few years! Many times I will look at just my neighbourhood, and think:

"Oh! So that's where that goes"!

And yet, when I get out and explore on bike, I realise that if I hadn't seen it in Google Earth, I would have never known about the shortcut.

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Old 03-25-08, 07:17 PM   #14
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Always search for the road less traveled

Here is a group in the UK that does that and has been since the 50's. Check out the ride reports and the awesome pictures.

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Old 03-25-08, 07:24 PM   #15
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I don't know if you would call it a shortcut, it's the only "safe" way to my work. Off the Alum Creek MUP you can see the "private bridge-no access" marker. As I looked at the map, it looked like it came right behind where I work. Sure enough. Got permission to use it and it's wonderful. http://www.jnybny.com/liv_3cm_aerial.htm
You can see that I would have to go to Livingston and make a right down a bad road with many, many driveways for fast food.
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Old 03-25-08, 07:30 PM   #16
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There are some really funny posts in this thread, loving the way you all
keep beating your friends and colleagues.
It has reminded me that when the snow was gone and before the greenery
gets out of hand, I was going to explore a possible shortcut that will save a
bit on distance and avoid some traffic, I have a half day this Saturday, if it's
dry enough, I'm going to go exploring on the way home.
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Old 03-25-08, 09:17 PM   #17
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We have found some fun short cuts through parks and rights of ways in this town. I just have to be careful that when I'm out driving the car not to try to go those ways!
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Old 03-25-08, 09:34 PM   #18
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We have found some fun short cuts through parks and rights of ways in this town. I just have to be careful that when I'm out driving the car not to try to go those ways!


I have done that on several occasions--which is one reason why I have all but ceased to drive. It's much easier for me to ride my bike.

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Old 03-26-08, 05:46 AM   #19
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Good scouting, gwd. Watch out for cops if you're trespassing. I have my own shortcuts. One involves taking a path through a woodlot, crossing an unused RR track, and "sneaking" through the parking lot of a little factory. It takes more than 1/2 mile off my commute to work. When it's not real muddy or snowy, I can do it without getting off my bike.
Please be careful crossing railroad tracks, even if they look unused. Many tracks that people think are abandoned are actually used once or twice a week. Plus there are inspection and work trains.
Train traffic is predicted to go up 88% by the year 2035, so be prepared to see trains on tracks you thought were abandoned.
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Old 03-26-08, 08:44 AM   #20
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Please be careful crossing railroad tracks, even if they look unused. Many tracks that people think are abandoned are actually used once or twice a week. Plus there are inspection and work trains.
Train traffic is predicted to go up 88% by the year 2035, so be prepared to see trains on tracks you thought were abandoned
.
This is a spur and it is used sometimes--maybe twice a year. Another thing to be careful of is the RR security force. In many areas, trespassing on RR property is a worse offense than ordinary trespassing, and the RR forces are pretty vigilant. I saw a guy in court get sentenced to 60 days for trespass on RR tracks.
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Old 03-26-08, 10:56 AM   #21
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This is a spur and it is used sometimes--maybe twice a year. Another thing to be careful of is the RR security force. In many areas, trespassing on RR property is a worse offense than ordinary trespassing, and the RR forces are pretty vigilant. I saw a guy in court get sentenced to 60 days for trespass on RR tracks.
Using the storm water culvert under the tracks didn't FEEL like trespassing. At that point we were going below freight tracks and metro tracks. Metro puts up fences I think because of the extra hazard of the electrified third rail. Thinking about that 700 volts or so in the third rail makes me shy away from skipping across metro tracks.
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Old 05-18-08, 09:00 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by coldfeet View Post
There are some really funny posts in this thread, loving the way you all
keep beating your friends and colleagues.
It has reminded me that when the snow was gone and before the greenery
gets out of hand, I was going to explore a possible shortcut that will save a
bit on distance and avoid some traffic, I have a half day this Saturday, if it's
dry enough, I'm going to go exploring on the way home.
So I just remembered I never reported back, the short cut takes me through 2 fences, with very old holes,
and right behind the water treatment works, between them and the river, it is used a fair bit by fishermen.
It is quite rideable on a rigid MTB, at a slow pace, so it doesn't save me more than a half minute or so,
but it cuts about a km off the distance and cuts out some of the more unpleasant roadway. All in all, a win.
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Old 05-18-08, 09:16 PM   #23
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One of my favorite shortcuts is gone now. This was an abandoned bridge over a four-track railway. It was beautiful, and the only access within 1/2 mile. I was there recently and the bridge was blocked off. There was a sign that said something like "This bridge is closed. It will be reopened as part of a planned extension of the city trail system when funds are available." But it already was a perfect pedestrian and bicycle bridge! They probably plan to plant petunias and put in a park bench, but until then they're not going to let anybody use it.
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Old 05-18-08, 09:17 PM   #24
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Using the storm water culvert under the tracks didn't FEEL like trespassing. At that point we were going below freight tracks and metro tracks. Metro puts up fences I think because of the extra hazard of the electrified third rail. Thinking about that 700 volts or so in the third rail makes me shy away from skipping across metro tracks.
not talking about Gaithersburg are you by any chance??
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Old 05-18-08, 09:19 PM   #25
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I have done that on several occasions--which is one reason why I have all but ceased to drive. It's much easier for me to ride my bike.

East Hill
Yea, it's sometimes a bit odd when I have to drive, like actually paying attention to "do not enter" "wrong way" and the like
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