This reprieve is great news for all you procrastinators! Not only will you (with luck) enjoy seasonable temperatures and smoke-free air when Bike to Work Day rolls around, you also get two extra weeks to plan your route and psych yourself up for the big day.
So for all you new riders and shilly-shalliers, here are a few tips on how to choose the right route for an enjoyable commute:
- Shortest isn’t necessarily best. When planning how to get from here to there by bike, it helps to stop thinking like a driver. The very things that make for a fast, efficient driving route (more lanes, higher speeds, fewer stoplights and stop signs) can make things very unpleasant for a cyclist. Before you venture out onto the major arterial, check a map: often there is a smaller quieter street running parallel to the large busy one. These streets are slower for cars, but just as fast for you, and a lot more pleasant.
- Define your hill strategy. With all of the hills and canyons around San Diego, anyone who rides is eventually going to have to face some significant climbing. But you do have some choices about where and how you climb. Do you prefer a short steep climb or a longer more gradual one? Will an alternate route let you avoid some of the steeper bits? Is there a bus that can carry you up that hill? And remember, you get no extra points for suffering: If riding up that hill is not in the cards, hold your head high and walk your bike up. (We’ve all done it!)
- Divide and conquer. Going a long way? Break up the ride into manageable chunks. Take the bus, trolley or Coaster for part of the trip (your bike can ride with you). Or drive part way, leave the car in a Park & Ride, and bike the rest of the way to your destination. Some people enjoy “bike commute Ping-Pong,” driving to work with the bike in the car and riding home. The next day, they bike back to work in the morning and drive home at the end of the day.
- Google Maps is your friend. Can’t figure out a good way from here to there? Google Maps has a “bike there” feature that will show you your options—complete with estimated times and elevation profiles. If you’re still not sure, use Street View to get a sense of whether the route you’re considering is a good one for riding.
Hope to see you on the road this May 30!
(I’ll be helping out at a BTWD pit stop at the Sabre Springs Transit Center if you want to stop by and say hello!)