Tweaking Your Commuting Route

I think one of the most important part of having a good bicycle commute is having a good route. I am always learning things and sometimes try some alternatives to see if there is a better way. For a long time in the middle part of my commute I thought I had a good route. I was on Park Street and turned on Ryan Rd. When I crossed Walnut Street, a fairly busy street, I continued on Tanglewood Drive, made a short way on Cornwall Road and turned on Ellynn Drive to continue my commute. This was not a bad stretch. While I was on Ryan there was usually a car or two that came by one direction or the other. Crossing Walnut was a mixed bag. I crossed just a 100 feet from a light, so you sometimes had to wait but then it was mostly clear.All this was before Google maps added the bicycle layer, but you might notice in the picture to the right that while on Park I was on a bike route. This is a Cary bike route named Park Central. It is a signed route but really I always thought they just wanted to wander around and make a loop in the central part of Cary. But I ignored the bike route sign and kept going on Park past the turn for the Park Central bike route and traveled down Ryan instead.

Then I decided to give it a try one day. So I checked Google and saw where I would end up if I followed the Park Central bike route until passed Ellynn which is also signed as a bike route, but an unnamed route in this case. This is now my regular route. I discovered that the people who designated particular streets as bike routes may have known what they were doing. I probably encountered 2 or 3 cars a week on this route instead of daily on Ryan. This change has allowed me to rack up many mornings with zero cars in the same lane as me on a 12.5 mile commute. Crossing Walnut much farther from any lights turns out to be easier. I often only need a rolling stop and then I can move on across Walnut.

But it is good to have alternatives. I still take Ryan sometimes because it goes right by a shopping center that has the Cary Performance Bicycle shop. It makes an easy way to pick up some brake pads or other small parts. Once I even picked up a repair stand I had ordered. I strapped it to my rack and let it stick out behind me.