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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: browne497 on February 02, 2020, 09:33:41 AM

Title: Cycling commuting question
Post by: browne497 on February 02, 2020, 09:33:41 AM
Hello everyone. I've been on board with and embraced the mustachian ways of cycling for almost 2.5 years now while living in the UK. I've really grown to love it and dream of living in a world where cycling is catered to even half as much as cars are. I'll be leaving the UK this summer though and returning to the US to a not so bike-friendly city. I lived in this city for a couple years before moving to the UK and enjoyed living there but again it's just not bike-friendly. My workplace is on the outskirts of the city and I'll be living about 5-6 miles away from it. That's not a problem at all as I've gladly made a similar trek to work here in the UK. The problem lies in the nature of the road that I have to travel on to get to work from where I plan on living. It's a 2 way road with 2 lanes in each direction with a speed limit of 55 mph for the majority of the way there. I've considered shelling out some extra cash for an E-bike that should be capable of going 25 mph but it still seems a bit sketchy to me. Going the car route wouldn't be the end of the world for me but I'm just curious as to what extremes you guys have gone to with staying committed to cycling commuting. I've attached a photo of what the road looks like. Let me know what you guys think.
Title: Re: Cycling commuting question
Post by: plog on February 02, 2020, 09:47:05 AM
I'm never biking that road.
Title: Re: Cycling commuting question
Post by: Hirondelle on February 02, 2020, 10:17:59 AM
What does the road look like at the time slots you need to be there?

I'm asking because once upon a time I lived in the USA and the road I needed to bike wasn't very bike-friendly (not as bad as this one though). However, as I was biking in the rush hour it didn't matter at all, because all cars were standing still in traffic jam, while I could happily bike past them trouble-free.

Also; do you think you may have any chances to get politically active in your area and encourage the construction of bike lanes next to such roads (or in the city in general)? I know several forum members who've been locally advocating for better bike infrastructure and they actually got some nice results (don't remember names unfortunately).
Title: Re: Cycling commuting question
Post by: fell-like-rain on February 02, 2020, 02:56:17 PM
55 is an absolute hard pass from me, and I’d consider myself a fairly bold bike commuter. Is there a different route you could take at all, even if slightly more roundabout? Or would it be possible to ride an mtb/hybrid and go a couple yards off-road? That shoulder doesn’t look terrible for riding.
Title: Re: Cycling commuting question
Post by: meghan88 on February 02, 2020, 03:42:59 PM
On a road like that, I'd take a mountain bike and ride the shoulder on the other side, facing traffic.  I'd like to get a good look in advance at what might hit me so that I could see and avoid.  Not fun, but it's do-able.
Title: Re: Cycling commuting question
Post by: TrMama on February 02, 2020, 03:48:41 PM
Hard no on that road. I bike partway on the shoulder of a highway here, but the shoulder is 6ft wide.

It must never snow wherever you're going. There's nowhere to put it.
Title: Re: Cycling commuting question
Post by: APowers on February 02, 2020, 07:53:24 PM
(https://media.giphy.com/media/FEikw3bXVHdMk/200.gif)
Title: Re: Cycling commuting question
Post by: Tuskalusa on February 02, 2020, 09:43:11 PM
Not safe. Not worth the risk.
Title: Re: Cycling commuting question
Post by: ApacheStache on February 02, 2020, 11:33:23 PM
Hard pass from me as well.

The number of distracted, absent-minded, selfish, speeding, drunk and aggressive drivers on the roads does not inspire confidence for me -- I say that as someone who's privileged to drive in a vehicle with airbags and other modern safety features. Also with a wide open road like that, I have a hard time believing many drivers will stick to the 55 mph speed limit. I wish it wasn't the case, but even with all progressive urban bike-friendly cities throughout the U.S., we as a country have a long way to go before safe multi-modal transportation and sensible enforcement and punishment for vehicular homicides becomes tolerated by the majority. Unfortunately, many vehicle drivers have no respect for other drivers and have even less respect or patience for cyclists or pedestrians.

When I was younger and lived in semi-rural Minnesota, as part of my biking loop I'd ride maybe half a mile on the county road pictured below before getting back onto the main bike trail. Most of the time I only saw 1 or 2 cars come by, but every time I heard a vehicle approaching around the curve my butt would pucker and I'd pedal a little faster and move a little further into the shoulder. I was thinking about this the other day and realized my younger self was much less risk averse than my current self and there is no way I'd ride my bike on that road today -- even though this road had a sizable shoulder. So when I see the road you posted where there appears to be a few inches of paved shoulder? Yeah no way.
Title: Re: Cycling commuting question
Post by: Dave1442397 on February 03, 2020, 06:07:57 AM
No way I'm riding on that road.

I like the previous suggestion of a mountain bike ridden off to the side. You might be able to use a gravel bike, too.
Title: Re: Cycling commuting question
Post by: rothwem on February 03, 2020, 06:21:50 AM
I think it really depends on the traffic on the road. 
Title: Re: Cycling commuting question
Post by: Askel on February 03, 2020, 08:06:53 AM
Really depends on the traffic levels, but unless it's really terrible, I'd have no problem riding that road. 

Just get lots of lights and wear something bright so people can see you.

Worst case, the shoulder looks solid- could just ride that. 
Title: Re: Cycling commuting question
Post by: erutio on February 03, 2020, 09:28:50 AM
That's not a two lane road.  That's a highway.  With no shoulder.  In the country. 

That's a hard no for me also, and I'm daily commuter.  But I ride in dense urban traffic in a less-than-bike-friendly city, which comes with it's own dangers.

Is there no alternative path?
Title: Re: Cycling commuting question
Post by: mschaus on February 03, 2020, 10:24:41 AM
I understand that some posters wouldn’t ride there based on the photo, but we should still look for solutions. The first thing I would check is alternate routes -- browne497, try google maps using the start and endpoints and ask for directions in “Cycling” mode. Sometimes it will show alternate routes you didn’t know about. It’s also common to take a longer route, parallel to the busy roads.
Title: Re: Cycling commuting question
Post by: honeybbq on February 03, 2020, 12:04:30 PM
Absolutely not. I'd drive to the next safest area and park and then bike commute from there. (or take the bus one stop, etc).
Title: Re: Cycling commuting question
Post by: GuitarStv on February 06, 2020, 05:19:44 PM
I ride on roads that look like that pretty regularly all summer long.  Safety depends a lot of how heavy traffic is, and general habits of drivers in the area though.  Always have bright lights on your bike (even in full daylight), wear bright colours, don't ride with music so you can hear traffic around you.  Don't be afraid to find an alternate way to get to work during bad weather, or if your commute means you would be cycling in the dark (I don't ride on roads like that at night).  If it is very busy at commute times, I'd probably pass though.  If it's usually pretty empty, I'd give it a try.
Title: Re: Cycling commuting question
Post by: Retire-Canada on February 06, 2020, 05:46:59 PM
Let me know what you guys think.

I would want to see a map of the area. Before I worry about route X being safe enough I want to see what other alternatives exist. Can you post a link to a map of the area?

I have ridden roads like that and there are a lot of factors that make it okay or a problem that can't be seen from one photo of one section of the road.
Title: Re: Cycling commuting question
Post by: ChpBstrd on February 10, 2020, 10:31:37 AM
This might be a good application for a 150cc scooter rather than a bike. They go 55mph+ and the cheapest ones cost about $1300 brand new. Slightly used can be had for less than a grand. Yes, it costs a little more and yes you lose the benefits of exercise and no it isn’t quite as good for the environment getting 70mpg instead of infinity, but the total cost might be a fraction of what a car would be. If you spent roughly $300/yr or $1.20/workday (depreciation, insurance, tags, 1 gallon of gas a week) that’s a much cheaper option than driving a car 10 miles a day at a cost of 57.5 cents per mile (IRS number).
Title: Re: Cycling commuting question
Post by: hadabeardonce on February 10, 2020, 02:08:46 PM
Strava shows heatmaps of cyclist activity and Google provides recommended routes... somehow I doubt that road would appear on either service as a recommendation. Mountain biking on the shoulder in the dirt is possible, but unmaintained trails suck. Getting passed up by someone in a car going 60mph while you're traveling 14mph would be pretty unnerving. Since you're most familiar with the road and your own abilities, you're the best judge. I'm not motivated to ride my bicycle there - hitchhiking looks safer. Maybe you could ride to a coworker's house and carpool? Take care.
Title: Re: Cycling commuting question
Post by: dougules on February 11, 2020, 10:46:39 AM
I'm not sure if you're still checking this thread, but what's tying you to the job, house, and town that make that your commute?  Is it possible you could move and/or take a different job?
Title: Re: Cycling commuting question
Post by: GreenToTheCore on February 16, 2020, 10:56:52 PM
I'd ride it and I ride routes like that weekly. Heck, it even has a passing lane, phenomenal.
tldr: take the lane.


Please take a moment to learn more about safe (not comfortable) biking strategies. If a car can see you and acknowledges you as relevant, then they move. They don't hit you because they see you, they hit you because they didn't expect a biker to be there (same with motorcyclists). Drivers are not set up for success to understand what they should do.

I ride in the middle of the lane and, while it takes a bit of time to get over the psychological hurdle, I found that drivers move completely into the other lane to pass with almost no harassment. Maybe one yelling dim-wit every other month but they always pass all the way in the other lane. I win ;)
I can send you videos if you'd like proof, it's kind of life changing once you try it.

Also, look into timing. Timing for long stretches and even short in-between lights can make a route even better. There's a "busy" section of road that I have all to myself every morning just because I hit it at ~7:15 (not 6:50 or 7:50 when late people are rushing to get to work) and wait for the left-hand-turn light to give a full light cycle before cars enter that section of road. Cars travel in packs, use it to your advantage.

This thread had some great info:
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/questions-about-running-errands-by-bike/msg2545065/#msg2545065 (https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/questions-about-running-errands-by-bike/msg2545065/#msg2545065)


YMMV, happy to talk about route planning.  Seńor @GuitarStv has some great advice as well.

Happy riding!