Thursday, July 23

Route Learning After Three Months

Click on map for bigger version

A little over three months ago, I started a new commute to Fort Worth Alliance Airport. I've been improving the route since I started. I thought I'd pretty much gotten things down. But, partly due to comments on this blog, and an experience on Bear Creek this morning, I evolved an improvement on the "going home" route.

I've never liked FM 1709 very much. It's six lanes wide and has heavy traffic. I often have to wait for a long time just to cross it. PIA street.

HOWEVER, I've not been thrilled with Bear Creek Parkway either. It's a two-lane, double yellow line street with a wide shoulder AND a MUP in clear view of all the motorists. There're lots of joggers and dogs and such on the MUP most days, and the MUP wanders rather than taking a straight route. I tried to ride it - once - when I was testing the route. It's strictly recreational.

Anyway, to make a long story short, suddenly the electrons connected today, and I realized that the same traffic light that made me wait at Cindy Lane (to cross 1709) would protect me if I instead turned left and rode along 1709 to a road that pretty much completely bypassed Bear Creek without any stop signs at all. KOWABUNGA! EPIPHANY! WHAT TOOK ME SO LONG?

I told the guys at work that I'd try it and they could sympathize with my widow if I got squished by the 1709 Grand Prix. Real anticlimax. The drama was that I got slowed by the 1709 motorists waiting at the stoplight where I wanted to turn. No roadkill danger, not even a single pass. Not even two lanes over. I'm not sure I couldn't have crawled there. And I not only missed all the stop signs, but I don't have to deal with any of the wide shoulder/MUP baloney along Bear Creek.

Sometimes, simple (and, after the fact, obvious) improvements elude us. The guys at work will feel cheated once again unless I decide to take the day off tomorrow...


ChipSeal said...

Again with the colored arrows!

Take the day off tomorrow and they will wonder all weekend!

Ah yes, the Keri protected turn! Even if a platoon of cars overtook you after their green light, those in the right lane would have plenty of time and space to merge. I doubt you would have any noticeable effect on traffic flow.

Steve A said...

I added to the line of traffc at the next light. Luckily, the light timing allowed me to make my right turn without having to unclip.

It was also lucky that I had my helmet on today, or I might have gotten a concussion from the force with which I slapped the side of my head from the sheer obviousness of this new route.

Doohickie said...

Meh. ChipSeal stole my comment.

I've been musing on several different route ideas lately as well. One thing I've started to do is use Oakmont in Fort Worth. I've even started to take the lane on Hulen and Bryant Irvin. I tell people this and they cringe.... Really? they ask. Is that safe?

In a word: Yes. In the case of Oakmont, it's two lanes in each direction with curbs and no shoulders. If you're going to ride it, you have to take the lane. If you take the lane, cars respect that. It's lightly traveled actually (despite its 40 mph speed limit and 50 mph typical speed) and there is plenty of room for cars to merge into the left lane. Really. No prob.

Bryant Irvin and Hulen? A little dodgier: 3 lanes each way. Hulen is where I do the difficult left that ChipSeal advised me about. I just got through reading some posts on another blog (Citizen Cyclist) and there was discussion comparing riding in traffic with a sheepdog herding sheep. After my recent experiences on these busy thoroughfares, it made perfect sense. You are so engaged with your environment, so focused on the interactions with the cars that it's.... fun.

All these random thoughts are coming together for an idea for next year: How about declaring the last work day before July 4 "Bicycle Independence Day" and riding where we want to ride, independent of any fear of traffic? I say, just GO FOR IT. Ride down 1709. Ride down Rufe Snow. Ride down Hulen & Bryant Irvin. Don't skulk through the neighborhoods, drive the same route you would in your Land Rover!

Waddya think?

Steve A said...

I'd take the day off tomorrow, but I've got some programmed vacation next week and most of my engineers take Friday off anyway. Perhaps I can construct a scenario where they all assume the worst next week...

Steve A said...

FWIW, FM 1709 is the street that I heard a local radio host complaining about last year regarding a cyclist going down (near White Chapel Road) "in the lane, as if he was a car, and people were swerving around him and almost crashing into things." "There were sidewalks so I don't know WHAT the guy was thinking." "He had the pointy hat on and everything."

Among the callers; a cop who was also a cyclist, defending the cyclist's actions. The host was conflicted, not wanting to diss a cop, but badly wanting to diss cyclists.

Maybe that's why I didn't consider 1709 as a real route option. Our past influences all of us. Sometimes, however, we get past the past.

I don't think I'd EVER take the same route by bike as by Land Rover. My bike route is 20 miles. My Land Rover route is nearly 27. At 15-20mph, you don't need Hwy 114 to make driving 65mph worthwhile. I've contemplated trying to drive my bike route, but I'd feel crushed if it somehow turned out to be quicker than taking the freeways.

ChipSeal said...

Doohickie said; "Bryant Irvin and Hulen? A little dodgier: 3 lanes each way."

For me, it was the multi-laned narrow streets that gave me freedom from the tyranny of "arrogant rudeness" that so inhibited me from asserting aggressive lane position.

The narrow lanes (Some as narrow as 8 feet.) assured me that I had to take the lane and the left passing lanes gave motorists an easy overtake. I found the two lane roads far more intimidating.

I like your Independence Day ride idea! Why are some roads more popular with commuting motorists than others? Because they make for speedier trips. Few lights and stop signs. Fast multi-lane roads going to where they are trying to get to. Just the type of road with the features a transportational cyclist would want.

There is no practical reason why we cyclists should feel that such roads are off limits to us. Why should we have to accept streets that are inferior to those that better serve our needs?

You had better be careful there Doohickie, you may be developing an attitude like mine!

Doohickie said...

I went along Dirks Road, starting from Granbury, then to Lakeside, to Winscott, in Fort Worth/Benbrook on the way to a group ride starting at Lake Benbrook this morning. Most other riders would take a detour that adds a mile or two to the ride, but I went direct, and was promptly chastised for doing so by my fellow club members.

It was no problem. Really.

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