Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My Usual Route (Erwin Road)

13.1 miles, about a 50 minute ride.

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So I'll start by describing my usual route to work. I'll be the first to admit this is not an ideal bike route. However, I have noticed more the number of bikes along this route rising since I started riding it three years ago. I used to pass the occasional rider once a week or so, now I am almost guaranteed to see another rider on every trip.  Here are descriptions of the four main parts of the trip.

Pickett Road
Pickett Road: Pickett is shoulderless, but traffic is relatively slow and there are few cars.  Traffic can be a problem around Garrett road and near Durham Academy at the beginning of school hours.  The surface is super nice because it was paved at the beginning of the summer 2010, unfortunately they neglected to widen it a little for bikes when they repaved.

Erwin Road: Erwin has a fairly wide shoulder, it's not a bike lane, but it is absolutely necessary for the speed and volume of the traffic you will encounter on Erwin. Erwin is definitely the route of choice for auto commuters avoiding 15-501. My ride includes only about 10 minutes on Erwin, which is too much if you ask me, I don't like biking on this road.
Erwin Road

Franklin Street: If you live in Chapel Hill and ride your bike, you've biked on Franklin Street. This the main artery through Chapel Hill. Coming from Durham, I ride Franklin almost from end to end. I join at the east end of Franklin where it begins as a four lane 35 mile per hour clusterfuck with all sorts of businesses and side streets on both sides. There is no bike lane and the gutter has some crazy storm drains that I'm sure could catch a bike wheel. Traffic is heavy during rush hour and cars are turning on and off, so you have to be very alert here.
     Eventually, you get past the business end of Franklin Street, and head toward the residential/campus end. After you cross Estes Drive you are past most of the businesses/malls but now you head up the eponymous hill. It's not that big a hill, my GPS data says about a 200 ft climb, but some days it seems to go on forever.

Campus: The final section of this route is through the UNC campus, which I will define as the top of the Franklin Street hill just described. The Franklin street speed limit drops as you approach campus, down to 20mph. I go right up to Columbia Street on Franklin. Franklin is kinda crazy on campus, but traffic is slow. You do have to dodge unloading delivery trucks, busses and thousands of students. The entire route through campus including Columbia and Pittsboro Streets is littered with busses, trucks and students. Trucks stop in the middle of Pittsboro street to unload goods for the Carolina Inn. There is also a good deal of construction through campus that robs us of our bike lanes.

As I said at the beginning, this route is not ideal. I will post some of my longer commutes that are safer, but longer.  They are also prettier routes!

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