CBB Poll: Route Choice

Over the last few years I find I’ve settled on a route to work that is not the shortest distance between points A and B. I’ve also tinkered with several different routes to my dad’s house, including a new one that looks a bit crazy when viewed on a map. I’ve got my reasons as to why the direct route is not the route to ride on a bike. How about you?


There are probably many other things that should have put on the list. Please pick one of the above and feel free to discuss in Comments.

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0 thoughts on “CBB Poll: Route Choice”

  1. jason (sd) says:

    In my opinion you missed an option. Open areas – increased exposure to head winds.

  2. Coelecanth says:

    No one thing is more important than the others, it’s all about having the lowest total travel time. Anything that adds time to my commute is a deterrent. On my current commute the fastest route turned out to be around 70% multi-use trail. Despite being a slightly greater distance than the on-road route it’s quicker because it goes under a couple of arterials that take forever to cross at the level crossing intersections. At one point I ended up taking the longer of two routes out of a valley because the shorter one climbed then descended only to climb again: a major time waster that. At another option point I take the shorter distance route with the much steeper climb, even though I crawl up it, the distance saved makes up for it. Now, if I wasn’t a crack-o-noon always tardy kinda person I might take into account the aesthetics of my route but really all I’m trying to do is get as much sleep as possible and still not be late for work.

  3. Michael says:

    I couldn’t find an appropriate item to vote for. My preferred route is chosen for it’s lack of stop signs and lights. It is 50% longer than the shortest route but takes the same time due to no traffic control.

  4. dvicci says:

    Another reason to vary a route is lack of safe highway crossings. I know that’s been my biggest challenge in going from work to home and back again. After that, high traffic (rude drivers) is without a doubt the biggest reason.

  5. Cafn8 says:

    Heavy traffic doesn’t tend to bother me much since I’ve learned to ride in it. Hills may slow me down a bit too, but all of my bikes have gears, so that’s not a major hardship either. I find, however, that on narrow streets with any traffic I frequently will be buzzed by irate drivers at close passing distances and generally at wide open throttle. Nobody seems to mind me being there if they can easily pass me, though. I generally choose wider streets over narrow ones even if the traffic is slightly heavier or faster.

  6. Noah says:

    Warren, each of your options is basically a “point” against a road in my book. With high-speed and high-traffic options maybe being worth two points each. Really, though, I don’t look at one thing. I weigh all of those options (and quite a few more) into a road or path before using it as part of a route. You also missed a few other options such as out-of-the-way-ness and (previously mentioned) exposure to head/crosswind. As part of my commute, I have the option to take a curvy bike path that adds excessive distance but provides tree cover for sun and wind, or a choppy, poorly maintained section of Carter Road with a really gnarly railroad crossing, for example.

  7. Alex says:

    I have recently re-adjusted my route to work, and am still in the midst of putting the final touches on it. Going from Boston to Cambridge, I am at the mercy of the few bridges of the Charles River. The narrow one ways to get to the river from my apartment have proven to be a bit tricky, and I’m left with the choice of powering over a HUGE hill, or jumping onto Storrow, one of the main arteries in the city. I don’t know if it’s youthful foolishness or laziness, but more often than not I find myself jumping onto Storrow in the morning rather than face that climb.

  8. Quinn says:

    For me the shortest route home has a hill about 2/3 the way home that is a 150 ft elevation climb, where if I take a slightly longer route that last climb is only 100 ft.

  9. Ed W says:

    My commute has ALL of these: high traffic count, high speed, narrow lanes, grades, railroad crossings, no off-road path, no bike lanes, yet I still manage to get to work and back. Why is that? Could I be some sort of superman – though a middle-aged, slightly pudgy one? Or could it be that by riding predictably, taking the lane when necessary, and behaving as merely another vehicle (albeit a slow one) on the road, I’m just another guy on his way to work every day? Nothing special or remarkable about it. Just another commuter.

  10. Steve says:

    Another barrier: boredom. Some days I can’t bear the thought of taking the same old route to work even though it’s better by all the quantifiable criteria.

  11. Quinn says:

    Totally agree Steve- I actually find myself zoning out/ totally bored if I take the same route every day.

  12. Idbob says:

    I use to ride on a high traffic road. my reasons were, the route was a couple minutes quicker, more traffic meant more people may get the idea that commuting on a bike can be done and the road was wider with a bike lane 50% of the ride. Then some nut ran me down on purpose, broke some things and my bike, then drove off. Most of the time now I take a different route, which is still fast, has less traffic but more cross streets. Higher traffic drives the odds up, of running into that one guy who is pissed off at the world. I’m still waiting for my turn at getting creamed on “accident” this time. By a driver who did’nt see me. Sometimes I take my original route, only to show this guy I’m not intimidated.

  13. Fritz says:

    Warren, how about none of the above? My every day route has all of those features. Other routes are available that have bike lanes, pedestrian bridges and so on, and I’ll use them occasionally just to mix things up, but usually I just pick the shortest route from point A to B.

    If there are different routes that are almost equidistant, sure I’ll pick the more pleasant road, but I’m not going to go miles out of my way just to avoid traffic.

    The things I and many other bike commuters look for — I want to minimize stop signs and red lights.

    I can see avoiding an especially steep hill if a way around it is possible, but I’ve never had to make that choice.

    This is me in traffic.

    Waiting for the light

  14. Brent Shultz says:

    Work is a 3 mile ride in, and while I live in a pretty small town (~17k), I’ve manged to tailor the ride to residential side streets for the majority. After a month of tinkering, I whittled it down to just 6 stop signs and one traffic signal. And now that winter’s over, the roads have shoulders again, making the busy parts a *lot* less scary.

  15. kaz_kougar says:

    Ummm, my route rules? I have about 5 miles of city streets, all marked with bike lanes with the exception of about .5 mile of side streets. 3 miles are paved wooded trail. I have no major inclines and maybe 2 very minor inclines. I really can’t complain, guess I’m pretty fortunate.

  16. Mike Myers says:

    I have read all the comments from riders who ride in heavy traffic and chalk their failure to be run over to “riding predictably” or being a skilled rider. That’s what I thought, too, before I was hit from behind while taking the lane AND wearing a brightly colored jersey in broad daylight. You only have to bounce off a truck once to have a change of attitude. I actively avoid heavily trafficked roads now unless I have a wide shoulder or a bike lane. I still take the route I was hit while riding, except now I’m reduced to riding offroad for a quarter of a mile to avoid traffic. Riding on a 55mph 2 lane with curves and hills is unsafe, even if you’re John Forester. Drivers are distracted, incompetent, and dangerous. The requirements to get a driver’s license in the US are woefully inadequate.

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