Bike to Work Month: The Dry Run
I have been in the contemplation stage of change for several years now on this idea of biking to work on a regular basis. I now have a job where I have access to a shower when I arrive at work that is moving me one step closer to being able to make this a reality, at least on days when I don’t have meetings all over town that require use of a car.
Last Saturday, my husband, Doug, and I completed a “dry run” of the two routes he mapped for us using an online mapping tool that came with his GPS (you can also use MapMyRide.com, though I’m not sure it includes greenway maps).
We wanted to see how much traffic and how much time each route took. We have easy access off Sawmill and Long Street to the Capital Area Greenway’s Mine Creek Trail. Both routes took us on the greenway, which constitutes about half of the 10- to 12-mile distance.
From there, the routes differed by either winding through Country Club Hills (and they aren’t kidding when they say hills) or straight down St. Mary’s Street, which is a designated bike way as noted by the huge biking signs painted on the pavement.
The ride out via Country Club Hills took us 50 minutes. The greenway part of the ride is quite familiar – we ride the greenways often. Once we got off the greenway on the Alleghany segment, we were in a beautiful neighborhood with lots of climbs – a bit of a workout for me with this being my first really hilly ride of the Spring biking season.
That route eventually brought us to Brooks Street and dumped us out on Hillsborough Street, just before the newly constructed bike lanes actually begin. Hillsborough Street was, for me, the most precarious part of the ride, simply because I don’t believe our residents are quite in tune to bicyclists as they are in major cities with a constant stream of cyclists using the roads. That and the traffic circle, again where the cars don’t seem to know how to deal with other cars, much less a cyclist.
That lack of experience and mindset, along with the lack of bike lanes on most of our city streets is one factor that makes biking to work challenging for me, as a risk-averse person. The rest of this week leading up to my actual bike to work day (I have to do this on Thursday, May 17th because I have to be in Chapel Hill on Friday, which is the day set aside for Bike to Work Day) I will talk about what I saw in Washington, D.C. on a tour of their bicycling infrastructure that made me feel quite safe despite the number of cars on the road.