Bike Everywhere Month- Planning Your Route: Part 2 of 2
Updated: Apr 16, 2019
By Kyle Stahley, Senior Transportation Engineer
As a follow up to the last blog post on getting prepared for Bike Everywhere month, this post will help you safely plan your route to wherever you’re going. Bike Everywhere Day is May 18th, check out the event page for all the cool things happening in the area!
After getting your bike ready for commuting, the next important consideration is planning a safe, comfortable route.
Different people will have different comfort levels based on the amount of protect a street facility or trail provides for bicyclists. Therefore, while it is helpful to use some of the planning tools available, it is equally critical to make sure use familiarity with an area and walking, driving, or bicycling along a route in advance to identify any hazards.
It's important to set realistic goals on how far to bike right away.
Since there are so many new aspects of the commute, it may be best to stick to 3 to 5 miles (about 20 - 40 minutes) of riding to start. If this doesn’t seem possible, remember that there are multiple ways to shorten a bike commute, such as driving with a bike in a car to a park and ride or neighborhood area and riding the rest of the way. It is also possible to only bike one-way each day. This could be accomplished by taking a bike in a car to work and biking home one day and then biking back to work another day or by leaving a bike at work and carpooling or taking transit one-way.
Finally, consider riding a bus or other transit to shave off some of the extra miles or tricky spots of a commute. Most transit services (including all Puget Sound Region’s transit; buses, light rail, Sounder train, water taxis, and ferries) have bike racks that can be used. Biking to or from transit can shorten the ‘last-mile’ problem where a certain route may be too far to walk on a daily basis but could just be a 5-10 minute bicycle ride away.
Setting manageable goals for your progress is the key to success!
Resources for Smart Biking
You don't have to go it alone!
Using a website such as the Bike Directions in Google Maps can provide a rough idea of the best route to take. However, caution should be advised as the bicycle-friendly roads shown can sometimes just include a shared-lane, “sharrow” marking on a busy arterial. To find facilities with a higher level of comfort, most jurisdictions– either Counties or Cities – publish maps showing the area’s non-motorized lanes and different types of bicycle lanes as well as sometimes showing roads which are best to avoid while biking. By using these two different tools together, a great route can be determined.
Once a route is established, it is a good idea to do a test run on a day where there is no pressure to arrive at a certain time, such as a weekend. This will allow for stopping to look at directions, wrong-turns, or having to reroute if part of the initial route does not feel comfortable. Remember to take it slow, have fun, and that bicycling should be enjoyable while increasing the amount of time spent outside and exploring new areas!