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Do You Choose "Car Routes" Or "Bike/Ped Routes"?

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Do You Choose "Car Routes" Or "Bike/Ped Routes"?

Old 04-04-13, 06:18 PM
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Do You Choose "Car Routes" Or "Bike/Ped Routes"?

Rode to buy some groceries after work.

To get home, I didn't ride the direct route which is quiet side streets through all residential neighborhoods, the kind of streets that only have residents who have turned off the busier streets and are driving the last few blocks to their homes. You know, where there's maybe one car every 10 blocks and it is going 20 mph, the sort of streets that you'd choose for a peaceful stroll.

Instead, I backtracked and took a longer route on a busier street that is also in those neighborhoods, but that is the kind of street you'd take to get "through" the area. The kind of street where there are three or four cars per block plus the occasional truck or bus, and they are going 35 mph+ as they pass two feet from you, or stacked up behind you if you're taking the lane.

I wondered, why did I do that?

Was it just "driver instinct", unconsciously taking the same route I'd take in a car? Was it because I'd rather share lanes with cars but be able to ride and keep momentum without stopping, than deal with endless 4-way stop signs and uncontrolled intersections? Was it because I'm arrogant or confident or deluded enough to consider myself and my bike as just like any other vehicle in this city? Or maybe I just wanted to ride a little further on a non-rainy day?

What do you do, and why, in this situation?

(For PDXers, I was at Safeway and Kruger market on SE Hawthorne and headed north and east to Burnside/28th. Instead of riding through the residential streets directly north of there, I backtracked to SE 20th and rode it north to SE Ankeny.)

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Old 04-04-13, 06:38 PM
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There are a couple of places on my daily commute where I can choose between main roads and residential streets (but only a couple since most residential areas out here in the 'burbs are mazes of cul-de-sac developments). In general, I choose the residential streets if they're nearly as direct and don't have a lot of stop signs. I like residential riding better, but not if I have to stop every 500 yards.

I used to live at 27th and Stark, though I didn't bike much back then. I remember not liking to drive along 27th, but it's the way I would have gone if walking. I think I'd be pretty tempted to take the route you did to avoid the stop signs.
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Old 04-04-13, 07:27 PM
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It depends on the route. I try to take the most direct when I have to go somewhere. My daily commute is a combination of path and street. The streets are wide and have bike lanes. There is a more direct route, but it involves a narrow, high speed section of road, or the sidewalk. I avoid sidewalks whenever possible.
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Old 04-04-13, 07:28 PM
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unfortunately me for my to ride from home to school (i teach) i have to take a major road. there are no side roads to take. the majority of it has a sidewalk, but i'm not sure if i will use that or stay in the road. I'm hoping leaving early enough in the morning will allow me to stay on the nicely, newly paved road, and not worry to much. coming home though might be suicide.
do you guys suggest sidewalks if they are there on a very busy road? (i'm talkin 2 lanes each way, main thoroughfare)
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Old 04-04-13, 08:46 PM
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I have a choice between a 4.5 commute in heavy-ish traffic or a 7 miles ride through a park on a bike trail. I normally opt for the latter in good weather as the air is better, it's a better workout and no tailpipe sniffing. In winter, I normally choose the traffic route as it's likely to have better road conditions.
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Old 04-05-13, 06:11 AM
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The least stressful(no-car) route.
My ride in in the morning--despite being in an urban area-- is very easy due to the time.
In the PM, whole 'nother story The longer, more surreptitious route through the park, ally's and one-way streets is how I go.
No interest in making a point 'advocating' to rush hour car traffic
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Old 04-05-13, 06:45 AM
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for my commute to work I ride the main roads, but where I live the main road is not that heavily traveled. When I get closer to where I work the main road is heavily traveled but the road has a shoulder and I feel safe enough in the am. When I ride home due to having no time limits I tend to take the road less traveled as the scenery is prettier and the ride longer.
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Old 04-05-13, 07:25 AM
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Depends. If I'm going somewhere with a time a limit the most direct path be it road or cycle. If I'm going home or simply playing... whatever takes longer and is prettier.
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Old 04-05-13, 07:35 AM
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i stick to the green routes which are cycle-friendly

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Old 04-05-13, 07:35 AM
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For me the direct route is along a semi busy street with a bike lane. I normally take that route because the lights are on a timer not a trigger and it's faster. The real trick is choosing the right time. I could leave work at 5, but traffic feels like a demolition derby if I do. Wait 'til 5:15 or so and it's just fast paced.

My other choices involve less traffic but more stops. Since many of the lights are triggered, you have to go press the "Walk" button. The streets are too busy in the afternoon to find an opening. Sometimes my bike triggers the counter. But then the system then loses that detection, or something. The counter counts down to 0 then doesn't change. Very frustrating the first couple of times.
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Old 04-05-13, 08:30 AM
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When I started cycling, I came from being a bus user. One day it dawned on me that I didn't have to ride the same routes the bus took. It was just the way I was used to having to navigate.

Strangely, my next step was to revert to driver mode, navigating arterials and secondary streets as I would have in a car. Working with bike advocacy groups, I learned about how the road system is designed to subtly yet specifically guide drivers to and along arterials and secondary streets and away from quieter and residential streets. I was heeding those cues.

It took a while, but now, wherever practical, I use quieter, more pleasant routes, mainly so I don't have to listen to the traffic noise. My favorite commute route is over double the distance of the direct route, but rather than following four and six-lane arterials, it runs through three parks, winds through the hillside neighborhood that joins them, meanders through a 200-acre cemetery, the University of Rochester's River Campus, then the New York State Erie Canalway, before joining neighborhood streets again.

Still, I have no qualms whatsoever about dancing with traffic--see also, the Custom User Title over my avatar. Because of geography and the way the city grew up around the river, the canal, the hills, the lake shore, and a ravine or two, plus how the railroad and expressways slice straight through it, it's nearly impossible not to have to use the limited number of heavily trafficked bridges and dugways to cross them.

Add in that the traffic control system seems designed to impede traffic rather than facilitate its flow, and--at least in the city itself--there's not much difference in travel time between busy and quiet streets.

Since I live on a secondary street--specifically because it's both well plowed in the winter and a bus line--there's no way any ride for me can be completely traffic-free. But as soon as practical leaving home, and until the last possible moment coming home, I use usually quieter alternate routes.

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Old 04-05-13, 08:31 AM
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Residentials and MUPS are nice to get out of traffic and wind, but another consideration is hills.

Most of my riding in the city here involves crossing one of the rivers, which means a short hill climb on either side. In the case where there's a bike route to climb up the hill, I favor that above a big straight busy road.

If I'm going downhill, however, I'll normally just take a major road as I can mostly keep up with traffic.

I by no means live in a hilly area, but busting up 75-200ft in a mile or so in traffic kicks my a$$
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Old 04-05-13, 08:39 AM
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Originally Posted by jyl
I wondered, why did I do that?

Was it just "driver instinct", unconsciously taking the same route I'd take in a car? Was it because I'd rather share lanes with cars but be able to ride and keep momentum without stopping, than deal with endless 4-way stop signs and uncontrolled intersections? Was it because I'm arrogant or confident or deluded enough to consider myself and my bike as just like any other vehicle in this city? Or maybe I just wanted to ride a little further on a non-rainy day?

What do you do, and why, in this situation?
Why did you do that? Habit. I call it "looking at the world with car eyes". It's probably a big reason...the other being showers...that people don't bike commute. They look at the world from the seat of a car and can't see the alternatives. It's very difficult to convince the newbie bicycle commuter that there are dozens of different ways to get from point A to point B that don't involve arterial roadways. Since they can't see an alternative, they can't envision bicycle commuting or they are scared to death of the prospect.

I've been bicycle commuting for so long that I see the world through "bike eyes" even when I drive. I may stick to the most direct route -the arterials- when I drive but I always notice routes that might offer a better bicycle route. I remember those for future use. I would have, in your situation, taken the more direct and quiet route if it existed. I have no problem with traffic but I wouldn't go out of my way to ride in it.
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Old 04-05-13, 09:02 AM
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in chicago, i'll use the 1.5 lane arterials for cross-city riding, as not only are they much more bike-friendly than the 2 lane arterials, they're also the streets that tend to get sharrows and bike lanes.

i also love riding on quieter side streets when my route allows, but often times things like the river and railroad/expressway viaducts/trenches don't make side streets viable without a lot of convolusion to the route. time is also a major consideration. if i'm just trying to get some where, then it's major streets the whole way, if i got time on my hands, i'll jump at the chance to roll down a side street i've never explored before (chicago has something like 8 billion side streets) and see a new corner of my city.

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Old 04-05-13, 11:00 AM
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I take the bike/ped routes normally, because I hate stopping. Especially at the hour I go to work (11:30 pm) what few stop signs there are I'm able to roll through (cautiously!) because the streets are deserted. (Unless it's Friday or Saturday night, but then it's not cars, it's drunk students stumbling around that I have to look out for.)
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Old 04-05-13, 11:11 AM
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I choose streets that are wider and quieter whenever possible. In Springfield, crossing the 3 sets of RR tracks going E-W means you have to choose between a few of the arterials, but one of them is fairly bike-friendly. The one traffic feature I avoid if at all possible is 4-way STOP intersections. I've never had a "close call" in traffic yet, but most of the driver mistakes and misunderstandings I see are people at 4-way STOPs having no clue what to do when a bicyclist shows up at one leg of the intersection. Give me a 2-way STOP or traffic light any day over a 4-way STOP!
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Old 04-05-13, 11:12 AM
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My car route is on the Freeways (91 & 110) where bikes aren't allowed anyway, so my only bike route is on surface streets which are car-dense, both in the parked along and driving on sense.

I have no bike specific or ped options (unless I want to ride the sidewalks, which I don't).

This is Whittier, LaMirada, Norwalk, Los Angeles, CA

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Old 04-05-13, 11:16 AM
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Once tried to figure out how to get to work on roads only (snow on MUPs hangs around longer), but it added several miles to my route. 15 miles of MUPs along the Potomac River is the shortest, safest and fastest route. Occasionally hop on the roads to get the benefit of drafting cars if there is a good tailwind and I want to ride at 25-30 mph.
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Old 04-05-13, 11:28 AM
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Yup, habits. A while back I was going to a place to eat by my old office, and started driving my old bike route until I got the MUP and realized that I cannot take my car down the MUP and would have to do some extra driving to get to where I wanted to go.
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Old 04-05-13, 11:29 AM
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You know you're a bike commuter when you hop in your car and take all surface streets instead of the freeway.
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Old 04-05-13, 11:32 AM
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There really are no alternate routes for me. Every available route that goes more than 500 feet from my house is almost all 50 or 55 MPH speed limits. My choice is whether I take the shortest (10.5 mile) route and put up with washboarded and loose gravel (not an option if I'm on the road bike) or the 12 mile paved route, or the 15 mile paved route (if I decide it's nice and I want to ride more.
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Old 04-05-13, 11:42 AM
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Car route.

On what's normally a 2.5 mile trip, I'd have to go a mile out of my way for .5 miles of bike lanes & .5 miles of bike friendly roads. I don't know what defines "bike friendly" on Google Maps, but I don't feel befriended on most of those streets.

I take that longer route on occasion, just to mix it up, but there's not much benefit to it other than the extra mile of riding.
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Old 04-05-13, 02:37 PM
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Originally Posted by caloso
You know you're a bike commuter when you hop in your car and take all surface streets instead of the freeway.

this is so true I have been riding around downtown and then sometimes I have been downtown with my wife in the car and i am taking all these backroads to places. It confuses her but she is impressed how I have biked or ran through many of these roads. (at least near work)
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Old 04-05-13, 03:05 PM
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i actively avoid bike infrastructure unless i am on an uphill slog or vehicle speed is very high. my main criterion for route selection is getting from point A to B as fast as possible.
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Old 04-05-13, 03:22 PM
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I take bike friendly routes even when they're substantially less convenient. I wasn't always that way but I try to kind of monitor how my rides are feeling to me and accentuate the good and minimize the bad. But of course there's a limit to it. Usually I can find a bike friendly route that's not more than 1/3 longer, and that's OK with me.

I live in urban Atlanta and even though I've lived here for almost 40 years I used to take more car routes simply because the quiet routes were so complicated. I don't like finding a bike friendly route if that's going to involve 20 minutes of studying a map and tons more turns on the way. But recently I started using the tomtom app on my iPhone that finds bicycle routes and it has been amazing. I get audible turn by turn instructions so I can think about things besides exactly where the next turn will be. And if I know I don't like the route it calculated, I ask it to find an alternative until I do (knowing ahead of time most of the roads I want to avoid).
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