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Route Adjustments

by Chris Cashbaugh

I have been commuting using the same route for about three years.  The ride is about 11.5 miles each way and takes 40-50 minutes depending on many things. Up until recently I have been a fair weather commuter and ridden mainly in the Summer when the days are long and I do not have to worry about darkness.  Having just switched to a year round commuter I am still adjusting to commuting in the dark and still discovering the complexities in this. Riding at night is not a new think to me, I have completed many 24 hours races and used to do weekly mountain bike rides at night. What I have become more aware of is the route that I take effects how safe I feel while commuting.

I used many sources to plan my route. Seattle makes cycling maps available with information on traffic volumes and bike paths.  I also used online mapping services like Google Maps to find parallel roads with less traffic. Finally I found veloroutes to be somewhat helpful in discovering new way to get around.  I have been able to fine tuned my route so that I encounter the minimum of car traffic and typically in the summer I have about 30 – 40 cars total the pass me going in the same direction.  Lately though I have found that this is just too many and I have been adjusting parts of my route so that I can avoid cars even more.  I have found a couple parallel streets that offer brief breaks and have been using the cycling paths more.  These adjustments many add a few minutes to my commute but I feel okay with that if it ensures that I make it to and from work with less risk.

Do you adjust your route depending on the season or weather?

 
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6 Responses to “Route Adjustments”

  1. Jeff Moser says:

    I had to make an adjustment today! Normally I ride through the park, but after a ways into it, the snow was just too deep. The bike paths are low on priority to be plowed it seems. I had to back track and ride along the busy icy street! I’m thinking about investing in some studded snow tires.

  2. drspell says:

    The longer, safer route is always a better choice than the shorter, riskier route.

  3. WheelDancer says:

    It makes sense to choose the safer route and I do just that when I can but I don’t always have a lot of options and have a great bike highway (three lanes, one each way for wheels and one for the foot-bound). I ride full-time and Mpls has a good network of bike lanes particularly in downtown but when the snow piles up, they shrink. My route adjustments in those cases are to take the center of the lane and since I can keep up with downtown rush-hour traffic, it’s rarely a problem. I do ride a beater bike in the bad weather and studded tires anytime it could get below freezing.

  4. Ghost Rider says:

    I’m with drspell…I’d rather take the longer route if it meant safer.

    I have several routes to choose from — the rainy weather route, the exploration route, the car-free route, the “white-knuckler”, etc. It all depends on the conditions and my mood, and none of the routes are more than a 1/2 mile in length difference from my main route.

    Even if conditions are great, it’s nice to mix up your routes, too. You don’t want to burn out on the same sights every day of the week, right?

  5. jason (sd) says:

    I have to cross an interstate highway on my commute. There are two bridges I have taken. The main one is 4 lane divided with what I call heavy traffic. It is probably moderate traffic, but it is the major interchange for our town. Speed limit is 35, recently changed from 45 so vehicles are going any where from 30 to 50mph. This option makes my commute 1.7 miles. The other bridge is 2 lane highway 55mph speed limit with light traffic. This highway is farther out of town and has no lighting. This option would make my commute 4.1 miles. Neither one of them have a pedestrian lane or a ride-able shoulder.

    I have gotten use to riding in traffic, not beside traffic, mainly because I have had to. I know from experience that I am safer on the road than beside the road. I feel safer on a road that I know with heavy traffic than a less traveled route with light traffic. I would not think of going that far out of my way just to avoid cars, or to avoid the honking and idiot comments.

    My experience has taught me that the farther to the right I ride the more often I will get cut off, run off the road, and squeezed by. Even on the divided 4 lane where there are nice shoulders, (in town) I will ride far enough left in the driving lane that they have to cross the line to get around me. They don’t plow the shoulders to dry pavement so I don’t have a choice this time of year. As far as bad weather, fog or slippery stuff on the road, vehicles are required to slow down. I know someone that got a ticket for overdriving the conditions even without being in an accident. Sorry for the rant, I don’t see how avoiding traffic can make you safer.

  6. Brian says:

    I have to switch in the winter do to snow issues (I live in Anchorage). Though about 3-miles (nearly half) is generous bike path, it basically amountis to a 10-foot wide sidewalk immediatly adjacent to a 5-lane 45-mph road. The problem is that when they actually plow the path, it is floowed upon with several road-plowing events per day replacing up to a foot or more of nice snow with impassible road-snot. During the winter, I have to divert to residential streets to get around this. The route is slightly longer, and has a bunch of stop signs, but at least I can actually ride rather than walk.

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