How do you choose your route?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    How do you choose your route?

    The quickest route to work for me goes through a section of bad neighborhoods. So I have to change my route, add on another mile or two, to dodge it. Still, I'm sitting around 16-17 miles. Not bad in my opinion.

    I am curious what factors you consider when choosing a commuting route. A very quick way takes me down a two lane road with no shoulders that has a speed of 45-50mph. I have enough lights to rival the sun (or so I have been told, 2-rear 2-front). Should I aim at the quickest route that keeps me out of the bad neighborhoods? I would only be spending about 2-3 miles on this road, and it would be before the morning rush (about 5-5:30am).

    Should I take a less direct (i.e. more complicated) route to avoid that road and possibly run into less desirable neighborhoods (or a route that goes around, but adds yet another 4-5+ miles), or use the direct route and just truck it on that small section of road?
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  2. #2
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    IMO, a poor neighborhood doesn't necessarily mean a bad neighborhood. I've noticed that the low income folks seem to be more welcoming to guys getting around on bikes than elsewhere. In multiple cities, I've been waved at/greeted often while riding through a low income neighborhood. A lot of wealthy areas have people who are too rushed/distracted to pay attention to someone on a bicycle, but the low income areas have a higher likelihood of encountering others on bicycles.

    That said, if the neighborhood is truly dangerous due to drugs, violent gang activity, and that sort of thing, it's best to avoid it. But I've noticed that some people's perceptions of a dangerous neighborhood vary wildly from mine. I grew up in a city and can read a neighborhood somewhat. A lot of people I know who grew up in the country have an overzealous imagination regarding such things and they tend to panic in places I comfortably ride my bike.

    I primarily choose routes to avoid busy roads with high speed limits. Where I live, none of the main corridors are very good for bikes, but just one block over, the route is usually great for bicycles.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for your input. I am going to need to think about this. I grew up rather poor for many years, in the outskirts of the city. That doesn't bug me, but the dangerous ones do.
    GF/Trek HiFi | Hardrock Sport Disc 29er
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  4. #4
    since 4/10/2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by 9erfreak View Post
    Thanks for your input. I am going to need to think about this. I grew up rather poor for many years, in the outskirts of the city. That doesn't bug me, but the dangerous ones do.
    Yeah, it's something to think strongly about. A lot depends on why that neighborhood is dangerous. I ride past a couple sketchy apartment complexes on a regular basis. Drug activity going on there. But they're not extensive areas. And they're very isolated...just a few hundred feet away, everything's fine.

  5. #5
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    I was recently in a similar situation. I moved which allowed me to be able to commute to June, this was in June. The shortest distance to work was through a downtown area that I wasn't very comfortable driving though, both because of traffic and the people who hung around there. I started by studying maps to find a way around. Once I found another route that looked good on a map, I tried it out. I had pretty good luck the first time through, but it added ~40% distance. Since then, sometimes when I drive the same way, I take a new road that seems like it might take me on a good route. That has helped me to cut 2 miles off and completely avoid the "bad" area I used to drive through. Now most of my ride is on residential streets with plenty of room to comfortable ride.

    As far as whether you should add more distance to avoid bad areas, that's something that completely depends on your comfort level in those areas and on those roads. It ends up being a compromise either way. Whatever you think is the safest is what you should do.
    Last edited by Straz85; 10-11-2011 at 08:50 AM.

  6. #6
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    Eh, depending on where you live, all of the "bad neighborhood" business might just be in your head. Does this neighborhood actually contain dangers to a dude passing by at 20mph? I'm guessing probably not...

    I choose my route entirely based on avoiding as much auto traffic as possible. Cars are the biggest danger to me on the road, and I find the "nice" neighborhoods have more traffic. That "bad neighborhood" might actually be the safer route.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by 9erfreak View Post
    The quickest route to work for me goes through a section of bad neighborhoods. So I have to change my route, add on another mile or two, to dodge it. Still, I'm sitting around 16-17 miles. Not bad in my opinion.

    I am curious what factors you consider when choosing a commuting route. A very quick way takes me down a two lane road with no shoulders that has a speed of 45-50mph. I have enough lights to rival the sun (or so I have been told, 2-rear 2-front). Should I aim at the quickest route that keeps me out of the bad neighborhoods? I would only be spending about 2-3 miles on this road, and it would be before the morning rush (about 5-5:30am).

    Should I take a less direct (i.e. more complicated) route to avoid that road and possibly run into less desirable neighborhoods (or a route that goes around, but adds yet another 4-5+ miles), or use the direct route and just truck it on that small section of road?
    Ride all of the routes....

    Identify all of the hazards of each of the routes, then mitigate all of the hazards as best you can....

    Then ask yourself which is the safest route. (The answer may vary depending on lots of things, time of day, weather, traffic volume etc).

    Ride the safest route......or maybe just the one you like the best.

  8. #8
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    Unless its an area with a reputation for gang activity and shootings, I would say your pretty safe. I ride through alot of the poorer areas on my way to work, and even though there are alot of low income minorities, I get left alone. Plus its alot nicer riding through neighborhoods than down busy streets. I would be alot more worried about getting hit by a car. I've been hit 4 times over a 6 year period(even with flashy blinkly lights).... just be really aware of traffic and you'll be fine. Be safe and happy biking.

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