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New Commute Woes

by Bike Shop Girl

Recently I moved to a new location outside of Charlotte, NC.  My original commute was 25 miles of a bi-modal commute, utilizing the bus for 19 miles and my bike for 6.  The commute normally took 45 minutes to an hour and was a wonderful ride on my bike through Davidson, NC.  On the weekends the bus didn’t run so I would ride my bike the total length of the commute.

Recently my shop opened a second location in Charlotte and, personally, I moved 17 miles north of the shop to rural Mooresville. Here’s the down fall, the bus runs but not when I need it to.  I often work until 7-8pm and the bus to Mooresville does not run that late.  Riding down a rather busy 2 lane road through Huntersville, NC is a death wish.  There are no cut thrus, bi passes or beaten paths to find for safety.

This has run me into many issues.  Currently we are a one car household, with two children and a spouse I would rather be riding to leave the car for them and my commute is often my hour or two to myself during the day.

What are your recommendations.  I’ve found that I will be able to ride in to work as the roads are not that busy, but to get home I’m going to catch a ride with friends or coworkers that live near me.  This isn’t my preference and I hope to figure something else out that means riding more.

 
The Chariot Summer Sale - 2013

15 Responses to “New Commute Woes”

  1. Randy says:

    Would it be possible for your spouse to meet you half way, past the danger zone, on days when the bus isn’t running and you have no other ride set up? I understand your problem. I live on the southern end of Louisville, but work in Jeffersonville IN. Only 15 miles as the crow flies, but I would have to ride on urban roadways, past the airport, Ford plant, then thru downtown at rush hour and cross the Ohio river on the 2nd St bridge, which scares the hell out of me. (There are little roadside “shrines” set up where cyclists have been killed…).I ride sometimes, but only on weekends, and I cross the bridge pedestrian style, not in the traffic lanes).

  2. Dave says:

    I’m not familiar with the area, but am with the Piedmont (train). Bikes on this train are a breeze. It would get you out of Charlotte and over to Kannapolis, but you’d have to change your schedule significantly.

  3. IR Baboon says:

    I completely understand your hesitance to ride on the two laner. I have my own fears of the same, especially here in the winter. I used to think US31 was a deathwish too. The 3 feet of snow on the shoulders/side of the road has forced me onto the roads. I won’t give up, and I have been pleasantly surprised by how accommodating many drivers can be. Keep yourself well lit, take the lane when necessary, and use eye contact. Best of luck to you in your new commute!

  4. Ghost Rider says:

    One of the tips that Chris Balish offers in his book How To Live Well Without Owning a Car is that careful choosing of where to live is one of the crucial components to living car-lite or car-free. Obviously, this doesn’t work for everyone — I mean, if you’ve already got an established household, it sucks to pack up and move. But if you can, it might be worth considering relocating to a more commute-friendly area.

    Otherwise, light yourself up and take the lane. I recommend Down Low Glow and Monkeylectric lights for sheer overwhelming conspicuity…motorists WILL give you a wide berth as they try to figure out just what in the hell you are! ;)

  5. Ben says:

    First off, great site! Just found it and it is very informative and usefull…even added you to my blogroll!

    Anywho, I think the best thing to do would be to find others to commute with. Sort of a critical mass ride idea. Obviously the more of you there are the better cars will see you and the more aware they will be of cyclists, also they may be more inclined to riding themselves. My two cents.

  6. jason (sd) says:

    I don’t know what you’re traffic levels are like, but I would say ride your shortest route. I live in a relatively small town, but big enough to have a rush hour. I ride on the busiest road in town, in the traffic lane, even when there is a nice wide paved shoulder. I have learned over the years that I am safer riding in the lane of traffic. If I give them enough room to squeeze by, that is exactly what they do. If I take up enough room to force them over the center line then they have to pay attention to what they are doing. This does take some nerve as more motorists will let you know how they feel about bicycles on the road. If you are worried about safety from traffic behind you just remember: That every road in this country was designed so a vehicle could avoid a stationary object in the road way. If they can’t avoid you they were either: speeding by more than your speed, not paying attention to their driving, or over driving the conditions.
    I know of no bicyclists that have the super human powers of invisibility. However a lot of people ride to make themselves invisible to the average motorist. If you ride in the traffic lane, where they expect traffic to be, they have no excuse that they can’t see you.

  7. Larry Staton Jr. says:

    I live in and ride around Huntersville all the time. From your shop, I would try something like this route: .

    The good news is that you’ll be off of 115 through Huntersville, Cornelius, and Davidson, so you’ll see less traffic. The bad news is that this route is longer and has more hills, especially on Grey Rd. through Davidson. Moreover, because these are backroads, the streets are not lit.

    Let me know if you need any help finding some back roads through Huntersville. I’m a member of CABA and I will to be working with Huntersville’s planners in the new year to make the area a bit more bike friendly for commuters.

  8. Blue says:

    Get a good mirror and harden your nerves.

    or

    be like everyone else and become a car commuter.

  9. ohio biker says:

    Personally I would like to ride a three-wheeled
    fully-faired bike, with a light-weight aerodynamic
    shell. The shell would serve a number of purposes,
    including increasing visibility, protecting rider from
    elements (especially wind and rain), providing much
    less wind resistance, and finally, being an extra layer
    of protection to help minimize damage to the rider,
    in case of impact. (Kind of like a bike helmet, but
    made for your whole body …)

    Not only would you be even more visible, but in
    the off chance that you still got hit, you would
    stand a better chance of surviving or minimizing
    your injuries.

    Being more comfortable and more aerodynamic,
    would increase the range of trips one might
    seriously consider taking by bike. Being more
    visible and safer increases the set of roads one
    might be willing to ride.

    Naturally you would incorporate running lights,
    tail-lights, turn-signals and headlights into
    the whole thing. The hard-core techno-geek
    could incorporate an LED based message
    display on the sides and/or the back, similar
    to Blimps. I would scroll bike advocacy
    messages …

    I’ve been thinking about the design and hope to
    build one for myself before I get too old to make
    good use of it. It would help me to feel more
    comfortable about riding on certain stretches of
    road that would be a joy, if only it were NOT for
    the operation of motor vehicles on those same
    roads.

  10. Arleigh says:

    Larry,

    You’re link didn’t carry through on my end. Try again or shoot me an email with it! arleigh@gmail.com

    Thank you

  11. Pierre says:

    Get a garish cycling top:

    http://www.procyclingshirts.com/tour-de-france/the-history-of-the-yellow-jersey/

    That’ll make you stand out a bit better. Theres some real decent ones from World Jerseys, you can pick em up from Amazon.com still I think.

  12. Spike says:

    I think a lot of the options have been covered, but doing anything to be seen and obvious, even to a speeding car, is the best thing to be said. Also, I think that the more you do it, the more you’ll be relaxed and cars will come to expect you on the road. My boss told me of a guy who he sees on his commute home that uses the whole lane on a very busy road, but people know he’ll be there.
    As far as location, I know it’s usually tough to move to the part of town that is easier on your commute, but in the long run it will be easier on your pocket book, your body and you get to spend more time with your family.
    Hope it all works out and keep riding!

  13. jim says:

    I understand your concern with the 2laner but I can tell you that I was scared to death of F hwy and Mo.160 here in the branson aria I have been commuting here for about 8 years and for the first 7 I would ride to the half way point ( where the shoulder ended ) and call a friend to pick me up there, after dark. This year though that was just not an option I bought a reflective vest from Omark safety equipment http://www.omarksafety.com/ and just did it I road the 2 lainer all the way after dark, and found that with the added visibility of the vest and a good set of lights that the traffic was surprisingly friendly ( well ma by friendly is a bit strong more like to freaked out by have there Territory’s and there rout compromised to even think about getting to close to me or triing to run me off the road ) how ever you want to think about it. it is really not as bad as it might first seem be visable be safe and have fun ( try not to wave with one finger )

  14. Patrick says:

    Get a pugsly and ride on the shoulder. You might get in even better shape!

    I wish I could see the terrain. I feel for you. I live 2 miles from work.

    Obviously, it’s very ironic that you work at a bike shop but can’t commute to your job by bike!

    I like the idea of a bike “shell” like the ones used by the fastest human-powered vehicle. I think that’s probably your best bet, or carry a trailer that widens your stance, with a big reflective flag flying 10 feet into the air!

  15. Maurice Schutz says:

    I thought Soul Train sucked because All the performers Had to lip sync. My parents employed to watch Solid Gold if i was bored I’d personally watch that mess. But, I thought Arsenio was funny-ish.

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