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Cycling Quality--Charlotte vs DC vs Houston vs Detroit?

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Cycling Quality--Charlotte vs DC vs Houston vs Detroit?

Old 04-05-24, 05:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak
I commuted from Baltimore to DC for 20 years, until 2020. One 5-mile bike ride in Baltimore, lock up at the train station, take train to DC, unlock bike 2, ride 5 miles to office, back in the afternoon. Many, maybe most employers in DC subsidize commuting costs - I think my train fares were entirely paid for by the .org I worked for.

If you find a place to live outside the city, you might find it convenient to ride to the Metro subway station and bring your bike onto the train. From a quick search:

Bicycles and scooters are welcome on Metro at no additional cost! What Can I Bring? Your bicycle or electric scooter must be smaller than 80" long, 48" high, 22" wide. Gas powered vehicles are not permitted.
I do this commute now except I take the bike on the train so I donít have to worry about lock up at the Baltimore end. It is one way to make DC money without paying DC housing. The last house on my block (attached rows, quiet, tidy, walk to lots of amenities, not great k-5) sold for $250k. DC has added a lot of bike infrastructure in recent years; a lot of my colleagues bike commute from around the region. One rides in his racing bike and then takes it on metro out to that Greenbelt racing series you asked about. Baltimore has also added infrastructure but not as fast as DC. Thereís a big cyclocross race in one of the Baltimore parks every year. There are a lot of active rides and cycling groups of various sorts, and access to decent rail trail rides of the east coast greenway is allegedly going to come right into the city.

Baltimore isnít The Wire, but def get to know the neighborhoods first. The schools are mixed at best (my kid went to one of the best high schools in the state academically but the facility was in terrible shape), but there are lots of private options. Four seasons like a storybook; weather is good enough to commute year round but long rides are cold and sad for three months for sure.

i am sorry to imply politics but I have friends leaving the Deep South city where I grew up because their kids are gay or not especially gender conforming, and they donít feel like the environment is super safe for them. Something to think about with kids.
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Old 04-05-24, 06:24 AM
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I know the OP mentioned 4 cites in the original post and I don't want to hijack the thread so I will simply say central Ohio (Columbus and surrounding areas) is worth considering. Very bike friendly, reasonable (but tight) housing, and booming high tech economy. Intel plant in New Albany (northeeast of downtown) is looking to open in 2026 and will futher the growth in this area. Major employers include the State of Ohio, Ohio State University, Nationwide Insurance, JPMorgan Chase, and Cardinal Health to name a few. Others include DCSC, OCLC, a fair amount of biotech, and Honda has a huge presence in Marysville.

Good luck in your research and let me know if you have any questions.
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Old 04-05-24, 06:28 AM
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I am somewhat under a different frame of mind. My only advice is: Figure out the places you want to live and see if you can make a living/prosper at that place. Make a list of those and go from there. Commuting could be the key.
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Old 04-05-24, 08:06 AM
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Originally Posted by seypat
I am somewhat under a different frame of mind. My only advice is: Figure out the places you want to live and see if you can make a living/prosper at that place. Make a list of those and go from there. Commuting could be the key.
Enh, BTDT. Every time I pick location over job I end up with a **** job. We spend almost as much time at work as we do sleeping, got to make sure the job doesn't suck.

Originally Posted by milesfromhome
I do this commute now except I take the bike on the train so I donít have to worry about lock up at the Baltimore end. It is one way to make DC money without paying DC housing. The last house on my block (attached rows, quiet, tidy, walk to lots of amenities, not great k-5) sold for $250k. DC has added a lot of bike infrastructure in recent years; a lot of my colleagues bike commute from around the region. One rides in his racing bike and then takes it on metro out to that Greenbelt racing series you asked about. Baltimore has also added infrastructure but not as fast as DC. Thereís a big cyclocross race in one of the Baltimore parks every year. There are a lot of active rides and cycling groups of various sorts, and access to decent rail trail rides of the east coast greenway is allegedly going to come right into the city.

Baltimore isnít The Wire, but def get to know the neighborhoods first. The schools are mixed at best (my kid went to one of the best high schools in the state academically but the facility was in terrible shape), but there are lots of private options. Four seasons like a storybook; weather is good enough to commute year round but long rides are cold and sad for three months for sure.

i am sorry to imply politics but I have friends leaving the Deep South city where I grew up because their kids are gay or not especially gender conforming, and they donít feel like the environment is super safe for them. Something to think about with kids.
Hm, didn't realize there was commuter rail, that's cool. My Dad did the Columbia to Bethesda commute for 40 years and that looked brutal, it would be great to avoid that.

As far as politics goes, we (my wife and I) are pretty moderate and don't really have trouble with people on either side of the spectrum. With that said, my family in Maryland is merciless with my wife's Southern accent, she would be way more comfortable somewhere in the southern part of the US. The reproductive health stuff in Texas is concerning, but I wonder how big of a deal it is in practice. Maybe a big deal? Its pretty early on and I think its too early to judge.

Originally Posted by Vintage Schwinn
(1) CHARLOTTE, NC

Number one by a long shot over, HOUSTON, and WASHINGTON DC.

You would have to be an idiot in my opinion to even consider DETROIT!
I appreciate the post Vintage Schwinn , you're the first to endorse Charlotte which is surprising because its my frontrunner so far for the not-bike related stuff you mention. For cycling stuff, is it better to live on the north or the south side of the city?
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Old 04-05-24, 08:19 AM
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"The reproductive health stuff in Texas is concerning, but I wonder how big of a deal it is in practice. Maybe a big deal? Its pretty early on and I think its too early to judge."

That's really funny ! But, I'll refrain from future comments.

Best of luck in your quest
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Old 04-05-24, 08:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Steel Charlie
"The reproductive health stuff in Texas is concerning, but I wonder how big of a deal it is in practice. Maybe a big deal? Its pretty early on and I think its too early to judge."

That's really funny ! But, I'll refrain from future comments.

Best of luck in your quest
Yeah, I don't really want to derail my own thread. Lets stick more to cycling related topics, I'll make my decision on the other factors with information not from a bike forum.
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Old 04-05-24, 09:42 AM
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Sorry for contributing to derail. It's just come up in more move decisions I have heard about lately from folks with kids. Also sorry your parents are mean to your wife, that would move a place up here down my list if it's more than the odd joke about y'all and ice tea! If she wants to be in the south I would vote Charlotte over Houston any day, your prefs of course may vary. Easy move from Asheville too. Not quite as pretty of a place but some infrastructure, tolerable weather, things to do. DC is technically the south but most of it doesn't feel very much like it (Baltimore feels more southern than DC to me, probably why it's more like home to me).

Columbia to Bethesda by car is indeed a nightmare trip, probably worse than when you were here. Driving commutes to DC are uniformly terrible, so if you are coming in more than once a week or so you want to be on a rail route or in town proper. My MARC ride is long, but it is low stress, it gets me a nice early morning ride on a nice separated bike lane, and I don't do it every day so it's overall worth it for my family (cheap house == more bike money).
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Old 04-05-24, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Phatman
I appreciate the post Vintage Schwinn , you're the first to endorse Charlotte which is surprising because its my frontrunner so far for the not-bike related stuff you mention. For cycling stuff, is it better to live on the north or the south side of the city?
I'm familiar with the road cycling South of Charlotte Although there is a lot of suburban sprawl occurring in Union County the cycling is still good south of and around Waxhaw and Monroe. I've encountered large group rides originating in Ballantyne and Waverly as far south as the Pageland, SC area. Most drivers seem to be aware of and polite to cyclists although there is the occasional butt hole. The NC pavement is not as well maintained as it once was due to tax cuts but compares favorably to what I've seen in some other states, including SC. I live and ride between Monroe, Waxhaw, and Pageland. I believe Cane Creek Park has Mountain bike trails.
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Old 04-05-24, 03:11 PM
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I take it your kids are not daughters. Not that it should matter. And now, I too will refrain from further comments so as not to bring the thread even further off track.
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Old 04-07-24, 02:26 AM
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Originally Posted by MarcusT
When you say Detroit, I do not believe you're talking Detroit city but rather one of the suburbs. In the city proper, they are trying to make it bike friendly but it is slow going,. In the outer parts it is flat with many side roads and farm areas. To get to more natural areas you'll need to ride a fair bit
I haven't been to the area in decades. When I was, the whole of "greater Detroit area" is set up for cars. Period. I-75 and I-696 is the mass-transit system. Out in the 'burbs, even if well within commuting distance, forget it because the roads you would ride have no paved shoulder, and cars and heavy trucks are whizzing by inches from your left shoulder. It is sometimes possible to set up a known course that winds through suburban neighborhoods to transit long distance, especially with phone navigation, but too many subdivisions are dead-ends and not thru, with the intention of preventing cars from cutting through to shortcut around rush-hour traffic.

Now for recreation, two metroparks in particular, Stoney Creek and Kensington, have paved bike paths around each lake, great for both biking or inline skating. Biking I actually did on the road loop because my speed was so high (for a bike) and car speed limit is low and enforced.

Plus winter weather is an issue, ice or salted-slush, though a lot less of that in recent decades with climate change. I didn't bike in winter, I nordic-tracked inside.

I've heard Detroit downtown is a lot better than in past decades, even the Detroit Lions moved back there from 20 miles out in Pontiac. But I would be astonished if bikeability in downtown or in any suburb, outside of small sidestreets, is safe. I will say, the summer I bought my first good road bike, I rode from Auburn Hills to Ann Arbor via Pontiac Trail, that was an epic ride, about 50 miles, and traffic on the roads was sparse being a Saturday, but still I was riding on the edge of roads, I was more daring then than I am now.
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Old 04-10-24, 07:28 PM
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Been to Greenville a number of times on business. Nice town, some good restaurants, but sounds similar to Charlotte are -->

Moved to Greenville, SC. Follow-up report on cycling road conditions.
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Old 04-10-24, 09:01 PM
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I lived in the Charlotte area for 26 years, it's a nice city, nice restaurants and plenty of jobs and a good housing market.

When it comes to cycling it really depends where you are in town. I was down in Monroe and there was nowhere to ride, roads without shoulders and speeding SUVs County parks that charge parking fees.

Charlotte itself has a greenway that may provide some fun and the parking is free but the streets have heavy traffic and IMHO the drivers don't seem to pay attention to their surroundings.

The good news is Charlotte is not far from Asheville, so go check it out

Jeff
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Old 04-10-24, 09:17 PM
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Originally Posted by MarcusT
Yes, It's been a while since I lived there, but at one time, once one went past 14 mile, it was farm country, now I believe it goes to 22 mile
east side regarding 23 mile rd is the "new" 8 & 11 mile area in a sense.
A large portion of the vast land around Bruce twp (& alike areas near it) have subs with HOAs now.

It's getting bad imo.
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Old 04-10-24, 09:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Duragrouch
I will say, the summer I bought my first good road bike, I rode from Auburn Hills to Ann Arbor via Pontiac Trail, that was an epic ride, about 50 miles, and traffic on the roads was sparse being a Saturday, but still I was riding on the edge of roads, I was more daring then than I am now.
that had to been 20+ years ago! idk if that route is even possible on any day of the week now. if careless drivers don't getcha, crime wont miss an opportunity.
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Old 04-10-24, 11:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Troul
that had to been 20+ years ago! idk if that route is even possible on any day of the week now. if careless drivers don't getcha, crime wont miss an opportunity.
Wow. The southwest end of that route back then was lightly populated, after going through Pontiac and then through a really fancy area southwest of it. Summer of 1989. A year of college still in front of me, but had enough money for a new '89 Cannondale criterium racer. Over the next 15 years or so I estimate I put 70,000 miles on that bike, was on third set of wheels (heavier double-socketed touring wheels, others always fatigued at the spoke holes, and biggest tires I could fit, I think 28mm) when it was retired for a townie with panniers. Before that, when I relocated outside of MI to a hilly place, put a triple crank on it and cartridge BB. Still have that bike in storage, looks like new.
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Old 04-11-24, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by JeffAP60
I lived in the Charlotte area for 26 years, it's a nice city, nice restaurants and plenty of jobs and a good housing market.

When it comes to cycling it really depends where you are in town. I was down in Monroe and there was nowhere to ride, roads without shoulders and speeding SUVs County parks that charge parking fees.

Charlotte itself has a greenway that may provide some fun and the parking is free but the streets have heavy traffic and IMHO the drivers don't seem to pay attention to their surroundings.

The good news is Charlotte is not far from Asheville, so go check it out

Jeff
Good to know about Monroe, one of the job openings right now is located there. Another one is nearby the airport on the southwest part of town, how's that area?
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Old 04-11-24, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Phatman
Good to know about Monroe, one of the job openings right now is located there. Another one is nearby the airport on the southwest part of town, how's that area?
The southwest is nice, (northwest no) but you want to find housing also over there, because RT485 (the beltway) is horrible to commute on.
There is a pleasant mix of condos through mansions to be found there, and you wouldn't be far from uptown.

If you want the job in Monroe I would look for housing in Mathews or Indian Trail area because you would be driving the opposite of rush hour traffic and there are nice neighborhoods there that are bike friendly.

While I'm not a fan of the NW, the town of Mt Holly is quite nice, and even has an Asheville feel.

Good Luck,
Jeff
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Old 04-11-24, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Phatman
Good to know about Monroe, one of the job openings right now is located there. Another one is nearby the airport on the southwest part of town, how's that area?
It's odd. I think the road cycling outside of Monroe is ideal. I suppose it depends upon ones comfort with riding on rural roads.
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Old 04-11-24, 06:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Phatman
Considering a move in the next year or so, my job in Asheville looks like its going to be ending and there's not much in my field available in the area. I love cycling--road, mtb and gravel and Asheville mostly provides, but for an engineer with an odd specialization there's not much here for me to make money with outside of my current job. So with that in mind, I'm targeting a city with a better job market and the four cities I've ID'd above have a really great concentration of jobs for me. Schools, COL, weather are big factors that I'm considering, but I wanted to post on this site to see how the cycling is in these places. So if you love riding bikes, which of these places would you choose? Charlotte vs DC vs Houston vs Detroit?

Charlotte and DC has a good cycling scene. Have cycled in both areas and can get you names and groups to look for. Drivers in CLT are pretty cycling friendly, you are 30 mins away from Pilot mountain and other elevation. Spartanburg is only 90 mins away which also has some awesome Cycling, and Asheville is only 2 hours away.

Houstin, I have frequented but didnít get a feel for a cycling culture. They do have USAC sanctioned races vs Dallas, who has none.


Detroit. I overnight frequently there too, canít say I have any interest ever riding a bike there.
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Old 04-11-24, 09:57 PM
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I've been in NOVA for three years now and car free for nearly 10 years. This is my third stint in NOVA. DC has better public transportation than some other cities, but people in the suburbs have the boot heels of Big Oil and Big Auto firmly on their throats. Most major highways lack a paved shoulder and there are a lot of egotistical or even narcissistic drivers on the roads in grotesquely-sized SUVs. It's a wealthy area, and unfortunately a lot of people have their egos wrapped up in their princess carriages abd disentangling the two would require a witch doctor. There is a bit of infrastructure if you're inside the beltway or at least within close reach of the Metro. Expensive, though.

As far as Detroit...

I've never been, but I spent five years in nearby Indy car free. You really have to like the cold because winter is seemingly unending. You couldn't pay me enough to go back there in winter. The summers are beautiful and the roads are flat, but the SIX MONTHS of freezing cold and bare trees becomes intolerable. I would only choose this if you also buy a home in Houston for overwintering.

I'm from Louisiana myself, and I don't think I would want to deal with the heat in Houston. I began my car free journey in FL, and it's crazy how much sweat can come pouring out of your body on a short 5-mile commute to class at 8 in the morning. I would only choose this if you're okay with showering and changing 4 or 5 times a day. I can tolerate the heat, but it's no fun showing up everywhere feeling gross. Granted, Houston is a little drier than Louisiana or FL. And, you don't seem to be commuting, so maybe Houston would be ideal for you.

Charlotte seems like a similar choice to DC, but with slightly shorter winters and cheaper housing.

If you want another option for a thriving city, consider Nashville. It maybe isn't the most bike-friendly city either. I can't really attest to that. But, having spent decades in the area, I can attest to the fact that TN has arguably the most well-maintained highway system in the country. All major highways have wide, paved shoulders, and seem to get re-paved before they even really need it. All the time, I pine for those shoulders as I ride the dangerous highways here in VA. The motorists tend to be a lot more relaxed than somewhere like DC, too. It also provides a good mix of steep hills and flats, if that's your thing. Mountainous to the east, flat to the west. Good balance. It's another place to consider.
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Old 04-11-24, 10:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Jameth
I've been in NOVA for three years now and car free for nearly 10 years. This is my third stint in NOVA. DC has better public transportation than some other cities, but people in the suburbs have the boot heels of Big Oil and Big Auto firmly on their throats. Most major highways lack a paved shoulder and there are a lot of egotistical or even narcissistic drivers on the roads in grotesquely-sized SUVs. It's a wealthy area, and unfortunately a lot of people have their egos wrapped up in their princess carriages abd disentangling the two would require a witch doctor. There is a bit of infrastructure if you're inside the beltway or at least within close reach of the Metro. Expensive, though.

As far as Detroit...

I've never been, but I spent five years in nearby Indy car free. You really have to like the cold because winter is seemingly unending. You couldn't pay me enough to go back there in winter. The summers are beautiful and the roads are flat, but the SIX MONTHS of freezing cold and bare trees becomes intolerable. I would only choose this if you also buy a home in Houston for overwintering.

I'm from Louisiana myself, and I don't think I would want to deal with the heat in Houston. I began my car free journey in FL, and it's crazy how much sweat can come pouring out of your body on a short 5-mile commute to class at 8 in the morning. I would only choose this if you're okay with showering and changing 4 or 5 times a day. I can tolerate the heat, but it's no fun showing up everywhere feeling gross. Granted, Houston is a little drier than Louisiana or FL. And, you don't seem to be commuting, so maybe Houston would be ideal for you.

Charlotte seems like a similar choice to DC, but with slightly shorter winters and cheaper housing.

If you want another option for a thriving city, consider Nashville. It maybe isn't the most bike-friendly city either. I can't really attest to that. But, having spent decades in the area, I can attest to the fact that TN has arguably the most well-maintained highway system in the country. All major highways have wide, paved shoulders, and seem to get re-paved before they even really need it. All the time, I pine for those shoulders as I ride the dangerous highways here in VA. The motorists tend to be a lot more relaxed than somewhere like DC, too. It also provides a good mix of steep hills and flats, if that's your thing. Mountainous to the east, flat to the west. Good balance. It's another place to consider.
TN must have upped their biking game since I was last there a couple decades ago. Then, no wide paved shoulders, except in one place where the freeway, which you can't bike on, suddenly transitioned to a state parkway, with wide paved shoulder, lower speeds, and biking allowed.

I've heard that Chattanooga is a good town, I think also for biking. Litespeed titanium bikes was started there and I think is still their headquarters and manufacturing.
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Old 04-12-24, 05:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Jameth
I've been in NOVA for three years now and car free for nearly 10 years. This is my third stint in NOVA. DC has better public transportation than some other cities, but people in the suburbs have the boot heels of Big Oil and Big Auto firmly on their throats. Most major highways lack a paved shoulder and there are a lot of egotistical or even narcissistic drivers on the roads in grotesquely-sized SUVs. It's a wealthy area, and unfortunately a lot of people have their egos wrapped up in their princess carriages abd disentangling the two would require a witch doctor. There is a bit of infrastructure if you're inside the beltway or at least within close reach of the Metro. Expensive, though.
I'm in western FFX. If you're car free, I would assume you're closer in in Arlington or Alexandria? If so, that would provide more context to your concerns but I wouldn't go that far in the assessment of this area. Yes, you will find what you describe but I don't think it should be a blanket statement. Where I live (Clifton/Centreville), I have plenty of roads with no shoulder (2 lanes) that have respectful drivers. Often those roads have very little traffic. Again, you have to know where to ride. I actually find the people w/ the large trucks provide me with the most space. It's the BMW's, Teslas and Pruis' that don't. Go figure.
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Old 04-12-24, 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by JeffAP60
The southwest is nice, (northwest no) but you want to find housing also over there, because RT485 (the beltway) is horrible to commute on.
There is a pleasant mix of condos through mansions to be found there, and you wouldn't be far from uptown.

If you want the job in Monroe I would look for housing in Mathews or Indian Trail area because you would be driving the opposite of rush hour traffic and there are nice neighborhoods there that are bike friendly.

While I'm not a fan of the NW, the town of Mt Holly is quite nice, and even has an Asheville feel.

Good Luck,
Jeff

Good to know about the 485--there seems to be some nice houses/neighborhoods in the south part of Charlotte, but if that makes it an awful commute to go west, that adds a factor. I'd ideally like to bike commute but I know that it might not be possible.

Originally Posted by bampilot06
Charlotte and DC has a good cycling scene. Have cycled in both areas and can get you names and groups to look for. Drivers in CLT are pretty cycling friendly, you are 30 mins away from Pilot mountain and other elevation. Spartanburg is only 90 mins away which also has some awesome Cycling, and Asheville is only 2 hours away.

Houstin, I have frequented but didnít get a feel for a cycling culture. They do have USAC sanctioned races vs Dallas, who has none.


Detroit. I overnight frequently there too, canít say I have any interest ever riding a bike there.
Are you in Charlotte? If so, what part? Anywhere you'd recommend/not recommend?

Originally Posted by Jameth
I've been in NOVA for three years now and car free for nearly 10 years. This is my third stint in NOVA. DC has better public transportation than some other cities, but people in the suburbs have the boot heels of Big Oil and Big Auto firmly on their throats. Most major highways lack a paved shoulder and there are a lot of egotistical or even narcissistic drivers on the roads in grotesquely-sized SUVs. It's a wealthy area, and unfortunately a lot of people have their egos wrapped up in their princess carriages abd disentangling the two would require a witch doctor. There is a bit of infrastructure if you're inside the beltway or at least within close reach of the Metro. Expensive, though.

As far as Detroit...

I've never been, but I spent five years in nearby Indy car free. You really have to like the cold because winter is seemingly unending. You couldn't pay me enough to go back there in winter. The summers are beautiful and the roads are flat, but the SIX MONTHS of freezing cold and bare trees becomes intolerable. I would only choose this if you also buy a home in Houston for overwintering.

I'm from Louisiana myself, and I don't think I would want to deal with the heat in Houston. I began my car free journey in FL, and it's crazy how much sweat can come pouring out of your body on a short 5-mile commute to class at 8 in the morning. I would only choose this if you're okay with showering and changing 4 or 5 times a day. I can tolerate the heat, but it's no fun showing up everywhere feeling gross. Granted, Houston is a little drier than Louisiana or FL. And, you don't seem to be commuting, so maybe Houston would be ideal for you.

Charlotte seems like a similar choice to DC, but with slightly shorter winters and cheaper housing.

If you want another option for a thriving city, consider Nashville. It maybe isn't the most bike-friendly city either. I can't really attest to that. But, having spent decades in the area, I can attest to the fact that TN has arguably the most well-maintained highway system in the country. All major highways have wide, paved shoulders, and seem to get re-paved before they even really need it. All the time, I pine for those shoulders as I ride the dangerous highways here in VA. The motorists tend to be a lot more relaxed than somewhere like DC, too. It also provides a good mix of steep hills and flats, if that's your thing. Mountainous to the east, flat to the west. Good balance. It's another place to consider.
Originally Posted by Duragrouch
TN must have upped their biking game since I was last there a couple decades ago. Then, no wide paved shoulders, except in one place where the freeway, which you can't bike on, suddenly transitioned to a state parkway, with wide paved shoulder, lower speeds, and biking allowed.

I've heard that Chattanooga is a good town, I think also for biking. Litespeed titanium bikes was started there and I think is still their headquarters and manufacturing.
Hm, Nashville, eh? I've visited for a wedding but didn't get a chance to ride. I've spent some time in Chattanooga too and its nice, but there's not much in the way of work for me there. I haven't investigated Nashville though.
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Old 04-12-24, 09:36 AM
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I used to live in the North Lake mall area. There are two group rides that I did when I lived there. Caboose, which is pretty fast paced. I actually got dropped. Shocking.

Cannonball is another group ride. A little slower paced. Both meet in the Northwest area Huntersville.

I rode solo shuffletown, white water area, as well as over in Gastonia.
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Old 04-12-24, 02:22 PM
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My experience is that Detroit is sort of a wasteland, except for the Metroparks that encircle the metropolitan area. Around Detroit - maybe (there is winter to worry about still), but in the mess -- no way!
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