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Bike Route Preferences Thesis Project

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Bike Route Preferences Thesis Project

Old 11-01-09, 04:13 PM
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UVARoutePlanner
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Bike Route Preferences Thesis Project

Our Senior Thesis Project at the University of Virginia is to create an urban bike route planner. We are surveying bikers about their road and route preferences. We ask you to provide as much information and detail as you can.

Do you avoid certain roads or intersections? Why?
What safety factors do you take into consideration when planning a route?
Do you sacrifice time and distance for safety, like roads with less traffic or bike lanes?
What is the speed limit of a preferred road?

We thank you for your time and input.
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Old 11-01-09, 04:48 PM
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Do you avoid certain roads or intersections? Why?

Yes. I often avoid busy, fast, multi-lane streets (mostly to avoid the verbal abuse, they are safe enough to ride on), or stoplights that I can't trigger.

What safety factors do you take into consideration when planning a route?

Traffic volume, width of street, potholes, amount of road debris, neighborhood crime rates

Do you sacrifice time and distance for safety, like roads with less traffic or bike lanes?

Yes

What is the speed limit of a preferred road?

30mph or less.
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Old 11-01-09, 07:20 PM
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Originally Posted by UVARoutePlanner View Post
Our Senior Thesis Project at the University of Virginia is to create an urban bike route planner. We are surveying bikers about their road and route preferences. We ask you to provide as much information and detail as you can.

Do you avoid certain roads or intersections? Why?
What safety factors do you take into consideration when planning a route?
Do you sacrifice time and distance for safety, like roads with less traffic or bike lanes?
What is the speed limit of a preferred road?

We thank you for your time and input.
In what department/discipline are you doing your senior thesis?
What is your survey sample? Only urban riders? Is it a descriptive thesis or do you have a hypothesis?

Answers to your questions:

I am a rural rider


Do you avoid certain roads or intersections? Why?
not really

What safety factors do you take into consideration when planning a route?
how wide the side of the road for bikes is.

Do you sacrifice time and distance for safety, like roads with less traffic or bike lanes?
not really

What is the speed limit of a preferred road?
depends on how much room I have on the side of the road
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Old 11-01-09, 07:52 PM
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Suburban rider:

Do you avoid certain roads or intersections? Why?
Yes, I try and stay away major, fast, thoroughfares. A lot less stress when you don't have to think about traffic too much and worry about getting buzzed by a car going 50.

What safety factors do you take into consideration when planning a route?
Avoiding highways, avoiding fast/congested roads, heading on bike paths whenever I can.

Do you sacrifice time and distance for safety, like roads with less traffic or bike lanes?
Yes, but not to an extreme. If, for example, I can go over one more block to avoid a thoroughfare and rather go into a side street with stop signs, and little traffic. I'll take that 1 or 2 blocks, it's always situational however, if I'm going to be on a major road for a few blocks, then it's fine, but I'm going to be on it for a while, I'll try and work in side streets. Again though, it depends on my mood, weather, traffic, if I'm hungry, etc....

What is the speed limit of a preferred road?
30 would be nice
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Old 11-01-09, 08:08 PM
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Do you avoid certain roads or intersections? Why?
I avoid roads with lots of potholes and plan my route to ,imi,ise the number of intersections where I may have to yield to cross traffic.
What safety factors do you take into consideration when planning a route?
Avoidance of intersections and lane widthe to allow for lane sharing with motor traffic. If the outside lane is wide enough to share or there is a ridable shoulder, the speed of motor traffic does not concern me.

Do you sacrifice time and distance for safety, like roads with less traffic or bike lanes?
Short time is my first priority in route planning.

What is the speed limit of a preferred road?
35 mph
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Old 11-01-09, 08:20 PM
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>Do you avoid certain roads or intersections?
Yes
> Why?
Roads: Narrow or missing shoulders, Heavy, fast traffic, poor visibility around corners or up hills.
Intersections: Multiple-lane while turning left (US), heavy, fast or non-bike-sensitive behavior.

> What safety factors do you take into consideration when planning a route?
Visibility, speed limit, likelihood of adherence to speed limit, traffic volume, presence of other bikers (the more the better).

>Do you sacrifice time and distance for safety, like roads with less traffic or bike lanes?
Yes, but for only a mile or two extra riding.

>What is the speed limit of a preferred road?
35 mph max. NB, that this often doesn't relate to the ACTUAL speed of auto traffic. The main road I commute on has a 35mph limit, but the average speed is closer to 45, meaning actual speeds vary between 35 and 55.

Last edited by Wake; 11-01-09 at 08:21 PM. Reason: bad math
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Old 11-01-09, 08:24 PM
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Originally Posted by UVARoutePlanner View Post
Do you avoid certain roads or intersections? Why?
I avoid high-traffic roads with little to no shoulder (escape route). There is a road that our planners have converted to single-file bike and motor vehicle traffic (no bike lane; bikes in center of road). Speed limit is 50 km/h. We are passed in an unsafe manner while taking the lane as most motorists are used to exceeding the speed limit on that stretch of road. Now I avoid it because I do not enjoy being a human speed bump.

I also try to plan my route so that I turn right at yield/stop signs. Since I have to slow down/stop anyways, I prefer to turn at a stop/yield sign than the next block down where I have the right of way. I like to think it makes me slightly faster, but I suppose overall it's a wash. I also cut through parks and cemeteries. I avoid riding on the arteries that cut around the city; even though the speed limit is the same as the residential or secondary streets, motorists routinely drive at 60-70 km/h and do not expect or appreciate cyclists in the lanes. Also, traffic in this area has a lot of semis and heavy equipment. I also dislike cycling in outlet mall shopping centres; there is little to no cyclist or pedestrian infrastructure and it is easy to get hit in a parking lot. There are a couple of intersections I avoid due to multiple lanes and driver frustration, ie. one where a lot of people turn left; when they perceive a gap in traffic motorists will gun it without seeing the cyclist that has the right-of-way. If the lights are poorly timed, motorists will try to jump the light and pile through long after the light has changed. Also I prefer lights where I can trip the sensor with my bike, or walk over and hit the crosswalk button, instead of waiting passively for the light to change .

Originally Posted by UVARoutePlanner View Post
What safety factors do you take into consideration when planning a route?
See above - I try to avoid heavy concentrations of frustrated drivers. We also have numerous bridges around the city where you have to walk your bike up the pedestrian sidewalk (city bylaw) or risk being hit by motorists who do not want to travel less than the posted speed limit up a bridge. (I'm not slow, but I can't do 50 km/hr on an uphill grade.) There are also no escape routes on the bridge lanes; you will be ground into the concrete barrier wall instead of hopping a curb. Bridges are also a source of congestion and frustration. Arterials are also less desirable as outlined above.

Originally Posted by UVARoutePlanner View Post
Do you sacrifice time and distance for safety, like roads with less traffic or bike lanes?
Yes, but I would rather travel a longer distance uninterrupted at a higher speed than take the shorter route but at a slower (stop-and-go) pace. I will not avoid a road completely because of safety - if it is the only route I will take it. Sometimes you have to get out there and remind people that cyclists belong on the road as well. Bike lanes are not always a major determinant; some around here end abruptly or are ridiculously close to the curb or parked cars. We have sharrows in some lanes, which I prefer to bike lanes as they remind motorists that cyclists are also on the road and not just corralled off to the side.

Originally Posted by UVARoutePlanner View Post
What is the speed limit of a preferred road?
50 km/hr. I will ride on highways, but only on the shoulder and if there is ample room.
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Old 11-01-09, 08:42 PM
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Originally Posted by UVARoutePlanner View Post
Our Senior Thesis Project at the University of Virginia is to create an urban bike route planner. We are surveying bikers about their road and route preferences. We ask you to provide as much information and detail as you can.

Do you avoid certain roads or intersections? Why?
What safety factors do you take into consideration when planning a route?
Do you sacrifice time and distance for safety, like roads with less traffic or bike lanes?
What is the speed limit of a preferred road?

We thank you for your time and input.
I live in Chicago and I do not know how it is in other city's but the only time I have ever been both hit and almost hit are at intersections with 3 streets... Broadway, Clark and Diversey is one and Halstad Lincoln and Fullerton is the other I consistently have problems with.

I absolutely do not sacrifice time for safety... I have been hit a few times though so maybe I should re-evaluate this.

I try to use streets with Bus lanes so I can pass cars with plenty of room... bike lanes are not enough in the city as cars will stop in them and are oblivious to cyclists.

Speed limit is not an issue because in Chicago the posted speed limit is rarely over 30, however if I lived in the suburbs I would certainly avoid roads with a speed limit over 45.

Another thing I try to prioritize is taking 1 ways to my destination, this way I don't have to go against traffiic and cars are much more predictable.

I also try to ride on streets with stop signs rather than stoplights as I don't stop at stop signs and there is generally less traffic on these roads.

Sorry if none of these "Chicago Rules" apply, the three intersection thing is the biggest for me but I am not sure if this is unique to Chicago with its diagonal streets.

Jon

feel free to PM if you have anymore questions and goodluck on the project!
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Old 11-01-09, 08:47 PM
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Do you avoid certain roads or intersections?
Of course.
Why?
Obviously, to minimize the risk of conflict with motorists.

What safety factors do you take into consideration when planning a route?
To me, it's not so much how big a road is, or even necessarily how much traffic on it, that dissuades me from using a road. Sometimes there is an advantage to riding in moderate-to-heavy traffic; if traffic is moving slowly there's a smaller chance of a car coming up from behind and a driver misjudging closing distance.

Do you sacrifice time and distance for safety, like roads with less traffic or bike lanes?
Less traffic- it depends; see above. Bike lanes- They present different different risks than roads without bike lanes. They push the cyclist off to the extreme right and often drivers coming out of sides streets either don't bother to look in the bike lane for approaching bike traffic, can't really see the bike lane too well, or pull forward into the bike lane in order to see the motor traffic. There's also the right hook problem and cyclists are less visible to oncoming cars, increasing the probability of the left cross. Some bike lanes are okay, but not all. They seem to work best on roads that are lightly traveled anyway and aren't necessary really.

Sometimes I do sacrifice distance for safety, but my routes generally become a function of what kind of mood I'm in.

What is the speed limit of a preferred road?

It depends on the road. There are roads with 45 mph speed limits that are less threatening than 35 mph roads I ride regularly.

I may have different answers after Christmas; my office location is moving, roughly doubling my commute. I suspect I'll be more of a "shortest possible distance" guy then.

When I first started commuting, I tried very had to find less-traveled streets to ride. I preferred to ride through neighborhoods and cross arterial roads at traffic lights, than to travel on the major roads themselves. Oddly, the shortest route to my current office is to cut through neighborhoods like that; the driving route is longer (even though it takes less time than the more direct route).

There is a word I've heard tossed around- permeability. This means recognizing that bicycles can flow through routes that are inaccessible to motor traffic. Cyclists can follow trails, for instance, that are not wide enough for cars. In urban cycling, there are often little short cuts that cyclists take to avoid longer or more dangerous routes.

For instance, where Route 183 crosses Vickery Boulevard in Fort Worth, TX. Route 183 (aka Southwest Boulevard) is a limited-access highway with a frontage road. Many cyclists use the frontage road, but it does not cross the train tracks adjacent to Vickery. There is a grassy area between the frontage road and Riverwood Drive, which does cross the tracks. There are two cable fences, about 2 feet tall, that block the crossing from the access road to Riverwood. Still, many cyclists go through there by lifting their bikes over the cable fences. Rumor has it the city is considering increasing "bicycle permeability" by putting in a short bike/pedestrian path between the 183 access road and Riverwood.

I think major improvements can be made at minimal cost by polling cyclists and increasing local permeability by putting in little access points like this.
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Old 11-01-09, 08:56 PM
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When creating a route, I try to optimize for minimizing the route length, traffic conditions, road conditions, neighborhood conditions and weather conditions. I often take advantage of a situation that with a little walking, some stairs or riding offers a significant short cut unavailable to motor vehicles.

My current route is a study in these. It is 9.6 miles going, and 10.2 miles returning. I take main streets except for one section, where an MUP that runs behind an industrial district and into a parkthat allows me to cut out the section of main streets that would otherwise be very dangerous. The omitted section is dangerous because there is a section of highway that has narrow, deeply potholed, heavily traveled lanes that go through hilly terrain, and don't have an option of a sidewalk, pedestrians must walk in the street as well.

The MUP allows me to avoid that, at the expense of a section that is isolated and very dark and the path is quite sensitive to the weather and has enormous puddles and rivers running across it during and after the rain. Since it rained on 21 days this month, its a strong consideration. This morning, after a week of rain, I rode along only to find the MUP completely blocked with large rocks and logs and a sign warning about sewage overflow. I had to detour around it through wet mud and plants and (sewage?) and was hoping that I wouldn't have to put a foot down

After the MUP, I go up an extremely steep hill into a surbuban neighborhood that dumps me out onto the dangerous street, but with only a couple of stoplights to go. I avoid the worst of the street.

Oddly, that street, after the second light suddenly widens out and I have an 8 foot wide shoulder for a couple of miles of smooth, almost level hassle free riding until I turn onto another street to maintain a course for work. People, cops included, have looked aghast when I tell them the route I take, but I haven't had any troubles like I have on other routes.

On the way home, I take a detour through the park that the MUP goes into, this is so I can avoid the suburban hill, and because the park is a beautiful break. It takes longer than my morning route. But it requires that I take another narrow,heavily traveled road. It is bad, but it is not quite as bad as the section I avoid, and it has the payoff of the park.

One important point that your survey didn't seem to address is timing. Timing is a definite consideration.

The first 3-4 miles of my ride are busy streets with just barely room enough for me and the cars. Because of this, I go to work an hour and a half early to avoid the rush hour. That makes it easier to take the lane, and offers me much cleaner air to breathe. My work lets out later than most, but I still do not rush home and avoid the worst of the traffic.

A curious bit of my route is that I ride through the parking lots of two hotels next to where I work and then walk across a 7 foot wide grass strip into another parking lot. This is because my employer is on a one way street going away from my home that fronts on a freeway. So I avoid having to go all the way to the next interstate exit to cross over the freeway and begin towards home. It's important that I do this legally and not ride salmon-like against traffic because just behind my employer is the headquarters of the state police. Taking the short cut into the police parking lot allows me to head directly towards home and avoids them ticketing me for wrong way riding.

I never notice the speed limits as I never break them. But historically, my ride has included a variety of road conditions from paths down the center of nature preserves to legally riding on the shoulder of the freeway. So I guess that's not as much of a consideration as the "elbow room" I have on any particular route.
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Old 11-01-09, 09:08 PM
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Do you avoid certain roads or intersections?
I'll always opt for quieter streets.
Why?
To maximize the distance between me and cars.

What safety factors do you take into consideration when planning a route?
Marked bike lanes, road width, speed limit, traffic density. These are all floating variables. A marked bike lane with a wide road will mean I have little to no issue with a dense, high speed road, and I will avoid a thirty mile per hour street if it's narrow, packed with cars, and has no bike lanes if there is a faster/less stressful alternative.

Do you sacrifice time and distance for safety, like roads with less traffic or bike lanes?
No, I find comparable low-density routes.

What is the speed limit of a preferred road?
See the safety factor question. If I have enough room, I'm comfortable on a fifty or sixty MPH street. If there's less room, I can get nervous on a thirty MPH street.
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Old 11-01-09, 09:11 PM
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Originally Posted by UVARoutePlanner View Post
Do you avoid certain roads or intersections? Why?
Basically, every route I plan is somewhat of a compromise between safety, comfort and efficiency. I try to avoid some roads or intersections for a whole number of reasons: width of curb lane (on arterial roads), traffic volumes, traffic light priority (I don't want to sit there for five minutes every morning waiting for a light to change), terrain (would rather avoid big hills), condition of pavement and so on. It's a bit of a balancing act. Often local idiosyncrasies come into play: for example, if I know that a particular road intersection has lots of right-turners, or bad sightlines, or a traffic light working off detector that does not detect my bike, or a really annoying stop sign at the bottom of a hill, or a lot of horse turds (from mounted police patrols) - I'll try to avoid it.

What safety factors do you take into consideration when planning a route?
See above. I personally feel happiest on roads that have a wide curb lane (or a bike lane - as far as I am concerned, the difference is negligible; wide lane with no extra markings is actually preferable). I also don't mind too much some roads that have extremely narrow lanes - when they are 9 feet wide or under it's clear to pretty much all, even the dumbest, motorists that those lanes are not shareable.

Do you sacrifice time and distance for safety, like roads with less traffic or bike lanes?
To some extent. If an alternative route adds 10 or 15% of time/distance and increases my comfort level substantially, sure, I'd go for it. But not if it starts getting ridiculous. But that also varies a lot and depends on what I'm after. I want a nice leisurely ride? Then I might deliberately seek out a longer route. I am in real hurry? Screw the nice little sidestreets, I'm taking the quickest route possible!

What is the speed limit of a preferred road?
I find that it does not really matter to me all that much. I've felt pretty comfortable riding on superhighways as long as they had wide shoulders. But the higher the speed limit, the more space cusion I'd prefer to have. In fact, my ideal road would be a major one (for priority at intersections) and would have a wide curb lane (urban/suburban scenario) or a wide shoulder (country setting). And smoooooooth pavement. And no hills (yeah, I'm a lazy b-tard!)
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Old 11-01-09, 10:31 PM
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Do we get to read the paper?

So many float away.
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Old 11-01-09, 10:54 PM
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>Do you avoid certain roads or intersections? Why?

Of course. Busy or complex roads/intersections that are dangerous...why wouldn't I avoid them?

>What safety factors do you take into consideration when planning a route?

Traffic speed and flow. 60 kph traffic heading in a straight line with minimal lane changing is one thing. 60 kph with lots of people coming in and out is another. Narrow roads with not much space between the traffic and parked cars are bad.

>Do you sacrifice time and distance for safety, like roads with less traffic or bike lanes?

Sure, up to maybe 20%. Less so if the route is long.

>What is the speed limit of a preferred road?

50kph. 60 is ok. I avoid anything faster.

(I second the call for you to post your finished paper.)
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Old 11-01-09, 11:38 PM
  #15  
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Originally Posted by UVARoutePlanner View Post
Do you avoid certain roads or intersections? Why?
Perhaps not AVOID, but I will select some routes over others. I try to avoid roads with faster moving traffic, with lots of lights, and with poor surface conditions. I also take into account hills and will go a bit further to avoid nasty climbs.

Originally Posted by UVARoutePlanner View Post
What safety factors do you take into consideration when planning a route?
See above, my primary motivation for most of my route selection choices is safety.

Originally Posted by UVARoutePlanner View Post
Do you sacrifice time and distance for safety, like roads with less traffic or bike lanes?
What is the speed limit of a preferred road?
To an extend I will sacrifice time and distance for safety, but I will also sacrifice time and distance for a prettier ride, or go by a bakery that smells particularly good in the morning. I truly enjoy my commute, and some of my route selection is to enhance that enjoyment.

Speed limits on roads are totally irrelevant since there is little or no enforcement of speed limits. A better question would be to ask the prevalent speeds on the roads. I prefer roads where the motor vehiclle traffic is moving slowly enough to react - typically these are roads which have a lot of twists and turns and narrow sight lines. Wider lanes tend to make cars go faster.

One of my complaints with the bicycle infrastructure that has been built locally is that it is intended as recreation, not transportation. I do not own a car, so I need to be able to plot routes from anywhere to anywhere on a bicycle. Interstates act like huge walls. For the most part the only places to cross the path of an interstate is on a very busy street, while negotiating the on and off ramps for the highway which were not designed for cyclists. When plotting a route, one of my first questions is where am I going to find a crossing to get across the highways and rail lines that intersect my path.
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Old 11-01-09, 11:40 PM
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Old 11-02-09, 07:40 AM
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Originally Posted by tballx View Post
Agreed, plus its much easier to translate into actual data than listening to people ramble on about their commutes...
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Old 11-02-09, 07:50 AM
  #18  
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Originally Posted by UVARoutePlanner View Post
Our Senior Thesis Project at the University of Virginia is to create an urban bike route planner. We are surveying bikers about their road and route preferences. We ask you to provide as much information and detail as you can.

Do you avoid certain roads or intersections? Why?
I avoid roads without a shoulder or bike lane. I also avoid congested roads. I also avoid faster traffic, above 40 mph.
What safety factors do you take into consideration when planning a route?
I seek out wider roads with light traffic and slower vehicular speeds.
Do you sacrifice time and distance for safety, like roads with less traffic or bike lanes?
Yes
What is the speed limit of a preferred road?
Less than 40 mph.

We thank you for your time and input.
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Old 11-02-09, 07:58 AM
  #19  
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http://www.mapmyride.com/

Saw this a few weeks ago, havent mapped any yet, but this would allow you guys to look at peoples commutes and maybe see some trends. I rode to the city on the Lakeshore path for Sh*tz and giggles today and I was suprised it was virtually empty... my morning commute through city streets here in Chicago is usually packed with bikes which to me means that people here opt for speed and short distance, rather than the much much much much much much safer but also much longer Lake Shore bike path (It's a lot safer and longer).
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Old 11-02-09, 08:13 AM
  #20  
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[QUOTE=UVARoutePlanner;9964283]Our Senior Thesis Project at the University of Virginia is to create an urban bike route planner. We are surveying bikers about their road and route preferences. We ask you to provide as much information and detail as you can.

Do you avoid certain roads or intersections? Why?
I try to avoid roads that are lined with lots of business driveways... each driveway is an uncontrolled intersection where motorists are often too busy looking for a gap in traffic to look for a cyclist. Roads lined with strip malls are a prime example of this situation.

I also prefer to avoid intersections of 6 or more lane roads... it becomes difficult to keep track of all the motorists that may cross my path.

What safety factors do you take into consideration when planning a route?
Intersections, road speeds, and traffic density. When all three come together in large numbers, it is not a good thing.

Do you sacrifice time and distance for safety, like roads with less traffic or bike lanes?
Yes and no. I do chose roads with less traffic and bike lanes and lower speeds when possible, but I also chose to go longer distances just for the ride... and due to the nature of my area (nothing but high speed roads) I end up going down less desirable roads just to get in a longer ride for fun.

What is the speed limit of a preferred road?
30MPH.

But there is not one single road in my local area, (once I leave my 5 block neighborhood) that is under 35MPH. In fact, most of the local roads have speeds closer to 50MPH, and one of my favorite flat fast roads is marked at 65MPH. I would prefer isolated well designed bike paths. But I have to get from A to B, and the only roads out there are high speed multi-laned arterial roads.
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Old 11-02-09, 08:14 AM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by wheel View Post
Do we get to read the paper?

So many float away.
Yeah, post the paper for us to read... let us see your conclusions.
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Old 11-02-09, 08:35 AM
  #22  
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As with the others, my primary concern is choosing roads to minimize cars • miles / hour^2. I'll go up to 10-15% out of my way (in terms of distance) to do so. As for avoiding intersections, I'd prefer to avoid lights, as they take forever to turn here, but that's about it... We don't have any particularly funky intersections around where I ride, so that never comes into consideration, but it likely would if I had any to think about.

Finally, regarding speed limits, again it's more about the volume of traffic, times the speed of traffic that I worry about. 1 car/hour @ 75 miles/hour bothers me far less than 100 cars/hour @ 35. Of course all of this is affected my mean distance from me to the center of the curbside lane, if I'm on a superwide shoulder, then heavy traffic can be buzzing by at 55 mph (like I had while riding along Coors Ave. in Albuquerque. Here in Plano, where I have no shoulder and actually have to ride in the lane, things are different, that kind of traffic would have me dropping loaves my whole ride.
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Old 11-02-09, 08:38 AM
  #23  
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Do you avoid certain roads or intersections? Why?


I avoid very busy roads with no bike lanes, I just don't like getting "buzzed" by traffic. Someone else mentioned avoiding busy shopping areas with lots of driveways, I agree, I do ride in some of those areas at times, but I don't like it. I don't mind crossing busy streets as long as I can trip the lights.

What safety factors do you take into consideration when planning a route?


bike lanes, traffic density and speed, lights
Do you sacrifice time and distance for safety, like roads with less traffic or bike lanes?


Yes

What is the speed limit of a preferred road?


30MPH. Many of the streets I ride on have posted speed limits of 30 mph, but many drivers do not come close to following that, so enforcement of speed limits is really important.

Austin has quite a few bike lanes in town and I generally feel pretty safe using them. But Austin still allows parking in many of the bike lanes and that is extremely dangerous! It forces cyclists to "weave" in and out of traffic and frustrates drivers.

City of Austin just passed a new bike plan for increased safety, education, infastructure, you may want to check it out http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/bicycle/update2008.htm
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Old 11-02-09, 10:57 AM
  #24  
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I ride in the city of Richmond (only 50 miles away from you!), so I'm going to be very specific about street names and such, so that you can see for yourself why I answer the way I do.

Do you avoid certain roads or intersections? Why?
Yes. I avoid streets which combine the traits of high traffic, high average speed, and narrow lanes or shoulders. For example, I will favor Floyd or Grove Ave over Main Street in the Fan, as the parked cars on the sides of Main St. narrow the bikeable lane area significantly, and Main St is highly trafficked. On the other hand, Monument Ave between Boulevard and Willow Lawn is highly trafficked and the cars move at 30mph+, but the right lane is very wide so I consider it safe. West of Willow Lawn on Monument, the shoulder area drops to nothing, and I avoid Monument as much as I can.

What safety factors do you take into consideration when planning a route?
The big ones are traffic related - volume and average speed. The other big consideration is shoulder width (no bike lanes anywhere on my route). My route doesn't really take me past any areas where personal safety comes into play.

Do you sacrifice time and distance for safety, like roads with less traffic or bike lanes?
Yes. My alternates to Main Street and Monument Ave add about a mile collectively to my one-way commute. Also, Main Street has nearly no four-way stops (only two lights between VCU campus and Strawberry where I turn off of it).

What is the speed limit of a preferred road?
As long as I have space to ride, this doesn't matter as much to me. Under 40mph is probably best, but I am most comfortable when there is a bike lane, or there's at least 3-5 extra feet of width in the shoulder/right lane.
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Old 11-02-09, 11:07 AM
  #25  
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I'm not crazy about hills. Every downhill in one direction becomes an uphill in the other. If I must have hills, I wish it was up in the morning when I'm fresh, and down in the evening when I'm tired after a long day's work. Naturally, my commute has the opposite - a hill that is a real hoot in the morning, but in the evening I wind up off the bike and walking.

As for speed limits - the actual speed is more important than the posted speed. I know a stretch that is posted at 25MPH, but the street is four lanes wide, and straight so that it is hard for the best drivers to actually go that speed. I know another street where the posted limit is 35MPH, but is wooded and a bit winding, so drivers actually go slower than that.
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