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tips on planning a commuting route

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tips on planning a commuting route

Old 02-18-15, 07:51 AM
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qclabrat
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tips on planning a commuting route

looking to change jobs so planning a new route for bike commuting

I currently ride once a week against traffic about 20 miles each way
not many options to work, other than staying off highways

Potential new location is only 10 miles away but with traffic and into an fairly busy office park

What are some tips on planning out a route in a relatively busy suburban area in NJ?
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Old 02-18-15, 08:13 AM
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Helmet, lights, hi viz stuff, of course. Look for routes that increase safety, even if you have to go out of your way such as sidewalks, offroad routes, cutting through neighborhoods, etc.
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Old 02-18-15, 08:41 AM
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If you haven't already, use Google Maps driving directions with the vehicle set to bicycle. It comes up with surprising routes and shortcuts sometimes.

Schedule some time on the weekend for some test rides along the new route, do some exploring. Maybe in a car first. I agree with Alan, and I'd trade several miles extra for an easier route or less traffic.
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Old 02-18-15, 08:58 AM
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In NJ we have a great resource by a gentleman named Dustin Farnum
The guy has been tracking traffic for longer than I can remember, njbikemap.com

Is it safer to ride in a quiet road with no shoulders or a busy road with shoulders?




Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
If you haven't already, use Google Maps driving directions with the vehicle set to bicycle. It comes up with surprising routes and shortcuts sometimes.

Schedule some time on the weekend for some test rides along the new route, do some exploring. Maybe in a car first. I agree with Alan, and I'd trade several miles extra for an easier route or less traffic.
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Old 02-18-15, 09:01 AM
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I use mapquest
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Old 02-18-15, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by qclabrat View Post

Is it safer to ride in a quiet road with no shoulders or a busy road with shoulders?
I can't really generalize that. Less traffic means less chance of an accident, but we are at a greater statistical risk of serious accidents (fatality) on narrow rural roads. I prefer less traffic but a nice shoulder without a lot of intersections is pretty comfortable.
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Old 02-18-15, 09:07 AM
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Don't ride against traffic. Lights on day or night.
I would choose a less used road w/ no shoulder
over a busy road with a shoulder; but it depends
on other factors. Speed limit, road width, etc.

Here's my NJ commute; North Bergen/ Hudson county:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7jf...6zPoymgKaIoDLA
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Old 02-18-15, 09:10 AM
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If you have to ride on busy roads without bike lanes, make you sure you claim the motor vehicle lane. Especially in this weather where there is a ton of snow piled up on the shoulders of the road, claim the lane! Otherwise, just ride how you usually ride.
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Old 02-18-15, 09:14 AM
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Office park roads are often safer (less traffic and wider roads) than arterials. Highways can be good or bad, depending on traffic, lanes, shoulders, etc. Suburban streets are often the best choice, depending on your location and whether the development was old (grid) or new (cul-de-sacs).
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Old 02-18-15, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by 1nterceptor View Post
Don't ride against traffic.
Ditto. But I'm not sure if the OP meant the left side of the road or just against the general flow of traffic (into town in the a.m., back to suburbs in p.m.)
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Old 02-18-15, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by qclabrat View Post
...I currently ride once a week against traffic...
Do some arithmetic and you may change your ways.

If you are riding at 15mph with traffic and motor vehicle operators are traveling 35mph, they effectively have time for their reaction as if they were traveling 20mph.
If you are riding at 15mph against traffic and motor vehicle operators are traveling 35mph, they effectively have time for their reaction as if they were traveling 50mph.

Seems pretty obvious to me. I never ride against traffic.
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Old 02-18-15, 09:46 AM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
Helmet, lights, hi viz stuff, of course. Look for routes that increase safety, even if you have to go out of your way such as sidewalks, offroad routes, cutting through neighborhoods, etc.
Add rearview mirror; I wear two, left and right.

BTW for finding routes in crazy Metro Boston, I use the AAA paper map with a nice scale for cycling, then hone the route with Mapquest.
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Old 02-18-15, 09:48 AM
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yep, that's what I meant, the latter


Originally Posted by mgw4jc View Post
Ditto. But I'm not sure if the OP meant the left side of the road or just against the general flow of traffic (into town in the a.m., back to suburbs in p.m.)
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Old 02-18-15, 09:54 AM
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I like this strategy, maybe a two lane road is a better than single in some cases

I've been trying out some green lanes in NYC, and some of the lanes are in the worst streets, like East Broadway in Chinatown where it's customary to double park the entire length.



Originally Posted by yankeefan View Post
If you have to ride on busy roads without bike lanes, make you sure you claim the motor vehicle lane. Especially in this weather where there is a ton of snow piled up on the shoulders of the road, claim the lane! Otherwise, just ride how you usually ride.
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Old 02-18-15, 10:01 AM
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Don't be worried if you don't have the best route when you start.

In my current commute it took me several weeks of experimenting with one part of the commute to get it optimized. It was through a very hilly residential area. The streets were in a grid pattern over hills. I had to try a lot of ways until I found the route that was optimized for the smoothest descent without having to climb more hills.
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I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.
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Old 02-18-15, 10:03 AM
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Originally Posted by scroca View Post
Seems pretty obvious to me. I never ride against traffic.
I took him to mean that rather than being a salmon, that he rode into town when the major flow of traffic was outbound and vice versa. I assumed he was on the proper side of the street.
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Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
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Old 02-18-15, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by mgw4jc View Post
Ditto. But I'm not sure if the OP meant the left side of the road or just against the general flow of traffic (into town in the a.m., back to suburbs in p.m.)
That's my routine; I call it reverse commuting, i.e. out of town (outbound) in the AM, back into town (inbound) in the PM.

For me that's one of my main arguments to justify the safety of cycle commuting to skeptics and naysayers, especially on our current snow-clogged streets.
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Old 02-18-15, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
If you haven't already, use Google Maps driving directions with the vehicle set to bicycle. It comes up with surprising routes and shortcuts sometimes.

Schedule some time on the weekend for some test rides along the new route, do some exploring. Maybe in a car first. I agree with Alan, and I'd trade several miles extra for an easier route or less traffic.
This is what I did. I had cycled for years but didn't bike commute because my driving route was unsafe. It finally dawned on me that I didn't have to ride to work on the same roads that I drive to work. I used Google maps and city bike routes to come up with a commute route is longer than my driving route by several miles, but avoids the worst traffic and roads.

A good light system is also essential, and with the advancements in LED lights, there is really no excuse for riding with poor lighting. For $100, you can buy a better light system today than one that cost $500+ not too many years ago.
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Old 02-18-15, 10:36 AM
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Commuting and commuters should be a never ending "cycle" of improvement. Not just for you but the community. One learns faster than the other and has more to gain from reacting quickly. That being said keep looking at your options. Clubs ,Google bikes, this board, the government pages on bicycle commuting,the advocacy groups for your state/cit, even People for Bikes. Explore your options and never be detoured to put a foot down if you need to rethink a move.
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Old 02-20-15, 10:13 AM
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I was in a similar boat a few months ago. Old job had a nice quiet commute on a mostly residential street all across town with very little traffic. Not so with New job. I tried to cut through the neighborhoods to stay away from cars but pace was slow and there was a lot of zig zag. In the end I travel the bike lines on the major city streets. Even though there is a crap ton of cars I still feel safer with a bike lane. I also found a route that is completely controlled by signals. I try to avoid stop signs because drivers are horrible about "who should go next" and are very indecisive. Oh, and "against traffic" is crazy talk! LOL. I'll do it for short distances if a left turn is coming up and I happen to be on the left side of the road but otherwise no way!
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Old 02-20-15, 11:59 AM
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I just started commuting and I like going off the main roads and just ride across different neighborhoods. I like the little traffic on the neighborhood roads and find that to be safe. I have been working in this building for about two years and I just started commuting on bicycle, it took me this long due to not knowing how to get here from a different route other than main and busy road.
Because I just started commuting I can't tell if this is the best or not but so far is going well.
I do wear reflective and bright colors clothing and three blinking rear lights one on the bike's rack, one clipped to my backpack and one on the back of my helmet. I have a blinking front light on the fork just about the hub, one bright light mounted on the fork crown and one on the handlebar and another one on the top of my helmet. I also have like six little LEDs (neon blue) battery operated along the down tube and another six on the seat stay.

Better safe than sorry.
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Old 02-20-15, 12:49 PM
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Planning before you start won't be as fruitful as learning from your mistakes, if you can even call them mistakes. Once you start, you'll refine your route as you go.
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Old 02-20-15, 01:03 PM
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Echoing what others have said. Start with Google Maps. Maybe check out Strava. Then start experimenting.
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Old 02-21-15, 05:57 PM
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My ride is 25ish miles - I used Google Maps (phone app) initially, but that was having my ride 26.4 miles, with some tweaking I can have the ride to work down at 24.6 miles and the ride from work an even 25 miles.

Once you've done the ride a time or two you'll opt for changes or not based on your observations, hills, and other input.
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Old 03-12-15, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
If you haven't already, use Google Maps driving directions with the vehicle set to bicycle. It comes up with surprising routes and shortcuts sometimes.

Schedule some time on the weekend for some test rides along the new route, do some exploring. Maybe in a car first. I agree with Alan, and I'd trade several miles extra for an easier route or less traffic.
+1
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