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Illustrated commute (more pics than you could imagine)(33 posts)

Illustrated commute (more pics than you could imagine)biknben
Oct 16, 2003 8:38 PM
In a thread last week the topic of passing cars on the right came up. For those who missed it, the opinions

were widely varied. I mentioned I would have to bring my camera on my commute to get my point across. So

today I did.

The passing on right issue always hits a nerve with me because someone usually says it's wrong and illegal.

The people I ride with do it whenever conditions permit. IMO, every traffic light or stop sign is unique. I tend to pass on the right whenever there is room. Sometimes I don't have the room and just wait in line. Sometimes I move up just enough to get through the next sequence of green. If cars ahead have their turn signal on, I make a point of staying behind or getting ahead. I don't want to be caught in the middle.

I didn't want to just post pics of random intersections so here's a photobook of my commute.
Thursday morning (6:45am), I grab my stuff and I'm out before sunrise.

Outside my development. Sorry for the blurry pics. My camera didn't seem to like the low-light situations.

This is a "bike route". Nothing more than a couple bike route signs if you ask me.

The shoulder gets wider but the traffic picks up.

I encounter the first light. It's about to change so I just chill in line.

The is the nightmare section of my commute. Looks OK now, right? That's only because everyone is still

sleeping. Half an hour later and this road blows. The white line is painted in the grass and the cars are

trying to bypass heavy traffic elsewhere.

This is nothing. The light just turned red so there are only a couple cars left.

The car in front is making a right so I stay put.

Within seconds I'm swarmed.

Beyond that light I have this for about a mile. I take as much of the road as I need. Two cars can't pass me at the same time. Most cars will slow and left to go around me.

Two light later I come to this. Most of the one lane roads (in each direction) will add a turning lane at the lights. That means I get squeezed. I prefer to move up here because cars comming towards me in the intersection are waiting to make left turn across my path. That truck is up against the curb so I wait in line again.

From this point on I'm home free. The road widens and the traffic decreases.

No issues at this light. I pull alongside the SUV.

Getting close to the office. I go through this old downtown section.

The last traffic light. Right lane is for right turn only.

Almost there.

Belive it or not, this is where I work. It's an old Victorian converted to commercial space.
So many pics...I got cut off...biknben
Oct 16, 2003 8:41 PM
Belive it or not, this is where I work. It's an old Victorian converted to commercial space.

I get a prefered parking spot.

50 minutes later I arrive at my home away from home. I don't have to worry about my bike. It's right outside my window.
Time to go home...biknben
Oct 16, 2003 8:53 PM
This was my fourth day of commuting this week. On rest/recovery days, I return home the same way. Today I'm just going to extend it a little until dusk. My route home will take me through Princeton, NJ.

This is actually a county road leading out of town. The traffic is steady and travels fast.

This is better. Back roads!!!

Another County road but at least I get some room on this one.

Ahhh!!! More back roads.

Someone else enjoying a ride.
Homeward bound...biknben
Oct 16, 2003 9:04 PM
I make my way into the outskirts of Princeton. This is what Princeton calls a Bike Lane. I call it a cruel joke.

Just down the road the MUT is better but a cop decides to use it for a speed trap.

Now I'm getting into the center of town. Backups at every light are common. You would think this was a big city. It's not.

"I must be in the front row"

I have to stop here but I'll get through the next green. The explorer is parked.
Hurry up and wait...biknben
Oct 16, 2003 9:10 PM
There's no reason for cars to rush. They are stopped again just a 1/4 mile later.

Movin' up

To the front

I make the turn only to be greeted with more standing traffic. This is worse than normal.

I have to cut through the cars to make my way to the turn lane.
Cruising through campus...biknben
Oct 16, 2003 9:18 PM
The road through the PU campus is closed to public traffic. This is the closest I can get to the Ivy League.

Traffic circles are fun.

Untill even
i they
get backed up.

Really glad I'm on a bike today.

Any up-and-coming rowers out there? This is the PU boathouse.
The final leg...biknben
Oct 16, 2003 9:47 PM
Here's the road leading East out of Princeton. 50 mph zone and the shoulder is filled with debris.

And it leads up to this. I have to cross Rt. 1 to get to and from work. It's the only highway in the area. It's also bursting at the seams.

Do I hear someone calling my name from up front? Let's go see.

Looking back. At least the driver aren't paying high prices for gas.

Two lights later.

Hey...An actual Bike Lane. West Windsor's population has exploded in recent history. It was mostly farmlands before so they had room to do things better.

Just one more light. I'm about ten minutes from home. 20 minutes if I wait here. This backup was nearly a half-mile.

My camera starts having trouble with the low light again. 21 mph while taking pictures? Not bad.

Home sweet home.

Go Yankees!!!!
Quite a commute...rwbadley
Oct 16, 2003 10:14 PM
I bet you make better time than if you drove!
The cars gun it between lights...biknben
Oct 17, 2003 6:45 AM
The theme "Hurry up and wait" holds true but the cars make up time between lights.

My 30 minute car commute is only 40-45 minutes by bike.
Oct 17, 2003 8:25 AM
Great photo essay!

I commute daily within Manhattan (and ride in Jersey regularly on the weekends) -- wish I'd made your rbr ride but maybe next time. What always amazes me on my commutes is how many cars have just one passenger. Is that the situation in your area? When I slip and slide through rush hour gridlock I often wonder how anyone can do it everyday. Don't they ever ask themselves: if only I'd taken public transit (or BIKED!)I wouldn't be stuck in this mess?!?
I'd ride it like you do...PdxMark
Oct 16, 2003 11:55 PM
though I must have slept through that earlier discussion..

Disappearing shoulders are a prime time to stay in the lane and not cut along the right side of cars at an intersection. But each case IS different.

I got nervous watching all the cars on your ride, and then realized that my ride might look similar. It's interesting how being a "passenger" made it more nerve-wracking to see your ride, than simply just riding it. Or maybe it IS that nerve-wracking.

I don't have many squeeze on the right temptations. One exception is a traffic circle with to lanes going in, the inner lane goes through the circle (the lane I want), the outer lane is a right turn only. I'll ride along the right of the cars lined up for the through lane, but I have a usually empty right tun only lane beside me.

The odd maneuver I have at two points on my ride home is a left turn across a three-lane one way street. For the one downtown, I can merge acros at traffic speeds. For the one coming off the bridge the speed is too high, so I need a break in the traffic to make it across. Otherwise I stop at the cross street and ride across when they have the light.

Where are you anyway?

Great photo story. Thanks.
This is the greater Trenton/Princeton, NJ area nmbiknben
Oct 17, 2003 6:15 AM
re: Illustrated commute (more pics than you could imagine)maddog
Oct 17, 2003 4:19 AM
Hey, that looks familiar. Remind me again why I live here?
When you said you were moving to the area...biknben
Oct 17, 2003 6:13 AM
...I didn't want to say "welcome to hell" but, I have to admit, I thought about it. I didn't want to bias your first impressions of riding in the area.

The return route I used is the same one I pointed out to you via e-mail. I have to thank you. I experimented with a few new roads into Princeton based on your e-mails and came up with a new and interesting route.

FYI, they are adding a pedestrian bridge on the D&R canal tow path this weekend. It will span Rt. 1. This may make the tow path a more viable commute option for you. There was an article in the Trenton Times this week regarding it.
When you said you were moving to the area...maddog
Oct 19, 2003 7:40 PM
In the same edition of the Trenton Times, there was an article about a cyclist getting clipped by a rearview mirror in Princeton. Did you see this article? I hope the rider is OK.

I should thank you again for the map. There are some fair country roads around pennington. I had a nice ride last weekend. Plan to ride to/around washington crossing park this week. I just got topoUSA, which has been a big help, but I think I'll scout out routes by car.

I noticed the new pedestrian bridge. It may make things a bit easier, but it's still hard to get to the path without riding on Rte.1. Not a good idea.
Covenent transportationfiltersweep
Oct 17, 2003 4:24 AM
Good lord! (no pun) Are they everywhere? The Christian truckers... ;)
I saw your post when I got up this AM...Scot_Gore
Oct 17, 2003 5:31 AM I took shots on my commute on the way in. I'll add them tonight if you don't mind.

Neat photo sequences - how did you take those?dgangi
Oct 17, 2003 5:36 AM
Thanks for the photo gallery - that was nifty. I live in a completely different world than you do (hot desert city of Phoenix) so it is nice to see how bikers navigate through other areas of the country.

How did you take those pictures? Did you snap them while riding? If so, you must be very good with a camera as your photos look nice - they are level and the horizon is where it is supposed to be. I have trouble taking pictures of this caliber while standing! You must have terrific balance and quick hands. In half of the situations you photographed, I would have crashed into something with a camera in my hands.

I've been to Pheonix...It was refreshing...biknben
Oct 17, 2003 6:37 AM
Years ago, I flew into Pheonix on my way to Sedona. It is a different world indeed. It was a refreshing change of pace.

NJ, like much of the Northeast, is completely different. In a nutshell, we don't have the infrastucture to support the flood of people coming in. Less people and businesses want to remain in the cities (NYC, Philly) and move to the burbs. Housing and coprorate development has exploded while the roads remain the same. The pictures show the result. Of course it's not like that everywhere but it's common. The small towns attract the masses with low taxes and open space. Ten years later they have sprawl, traffic, and higher taxes. End rant!!!

Nearly all of the picture were taken while riding. The secret is that I actually take three times as many pictures as I post here. I'm only showing you the good ones. Don't tell anybody :-). My camera is about the size of a deck of playing cards. I had it tucked under my pant leg for the morning commute. On the way home, I kept it in my jersey pocket.
Thomas Sweetsloki_1
Oct 17, 2003 7:03 AM
My kids look forward to our stop at Thomas Sweets after riding the canal path. We start just over the bridge by the boathouse. I have rowed several times from that boathouse, but alas, not for Princeton. I went to Rutgers.

Nice pics.
Commute De JourScot_Gore
Oct 17, 2003 5:17 PM
I always pass on the right when practical on my commute as well. Here's a photo essay of my ride in this AM. Here I am out of the driveway on a suburban cul de sac.
The main feeder road to my neighborhoodScot_Gore
Oct 17, 2003 5:18 PM
I take a left here. Notice it's signed as a bike route. What's that mean ? Beats me !
Regional Park EntranceScot_Gore
Oct 17, 2003 5:20 PM
I cut through a regional park on the way to avoid the busiest roads. Here's the entrance.
No cars hereScot_Gore
Oct 17, 2003 5:21 PM
Through the park on the MUT
Back on the roadScot_Gore
Oct 17, 2003 5:23 PM
Out of the park and to the right I go here.
Up the hillScot_Gore
Oct 17, 2003 5:24 PM
Here's the main drag up to the office. I call this a shoulder, do some of you refer to this as a bike lane ?
Stop LightScot_Gore
Oct 17, 2003 5:27 PM
This is my first stoplight. I always pass on the right here. All these cars passed me on their way here, now I go by them. This was the main bone of contention in the post the other day. Some folks felt I should drop in line behind these cars. In my circumstance, I'd have to pull out and take a line that I didn't have before I hit the light and it's also a line that I'm not going to hold when it starts moving again. Doesn't make sense to me, so I don't do it.
Through the light and down the hill.Scot_Gore
Oct 17, 2003 5:28 PM
Last lightScot_Gore
Oct 17, 2003 5:29 PM
I make a left here. No room to share the lane, so I take my place and wait my turn.
Through the lightScot_Gore
Oct 17, 2003 5:31 PM
Into the rampScot_Gore
Oct 17, 2003 5:33 PM
I'm at work. Wow 11 pictures in my 1 mile commute.
Only one mile???biknben
Oct 17, 2003 7:01 PM
I was surprised when I read it was only a one mile commute. I got the impression it was much longer.

What you refered to as a shoulder is a shoulder in my book also. In NJ, they sometimes put signs up and diamonds in the lane to define it as a bike lane. They are pretty rare. Too often, I'm lucky to have any pavement on the right side of the white line.

That MUT looks immaculate. If I'm not mistaken, you have a network of MUTs in your area, right? That would be nice. The MUTs I encounter are just glorrified sidewalks. Nothing more than lumpy ashphalt with debris.

Thanks for sharing.
Yes : )Scot_Gore
Oct 17, 2003 7:17 PM
It may be a mile and half with the twists of the MUT.

Yes, we have a pretty good urban trail system. If you work in either downtown, you likely have a trail to get you there.

One good side effect of living in a region that gets long term snow, is the shoulders. We have plenty of roads with no shoulder, but fewer than most. Even alot of sleepy rural roads will have a few inches of shoulder. It makes it easier for the plow blade to completely clear the driving lane. The driver can put the blade down and drive with confidence that he/she won't find a big rock or somebodies mailbox with the blade, even with the plow edge 8-10 inches off the right side. When you have miles and miles of road to clear before folks drive to work, the faster they can plow the better.

Good post, thanks