Did You Know?
Different routes for different bikers
Footprints coach Gina Kenny wrote this; I'm just the very-very-proud-of-Footprints messenger:
Even though it hasn’t been ages since I started commuting, I still forget how intimidating some things can seem when you first start. A Footprints participant wanted a route from her home in Homewood to the Old Plank Trail.
I planned a route taking 175th Street to Kedzie Avenue; taking Kedzie south; continuing going southwest as it becomes Olympian Way; going briefly west on 212th Place to Main Street and then taking Main Street south to the trail.
I’ve commuted on 175th Street a few times and thought it was not a bad street to commute on. Ashley made it part of the way but turned back – “Call me a chicken, if you will” she had wrote to me in an email. I thought about when I first started commuting – how I would tense up every single time that I heard a car coming up behind me. How I would take a route with residential streets, even if it added two miles to my route. And, I realized how scary riding on a four-lane street can seem if you have not been commuting for awhile.
So, I offered to ride with her and I planned her a new route with mostly residential streets and only one real scary section. Early on, our route was on 183rd Street for a block until Western Avenue. She rode it like a pro both there and back.
Then we continued on Western south, riding through residential areas and largely following the Electric Metra line until we hit Kedzie.
After about a block on Kedzie, the street turns into Olympian Way with a bike lane! Bike lanes are extremely rare in the south suburbs and I think I shocked Ashley with how excited I was to ride on a bike lane. We discussed whether to cross the street when the bike path switches sides of the street at a bridge or to continue on the road and then we were in another residential area before hopping on the trail.
Was the first route I gave her “wrong?” No, but, the second route was definitely “right.” What good is a route if the person does not feel comfortable riding it? Being able to revise a route to suit a particular riders needs and riding a route with a rider are just two of the great benefits of signing up for Footprints. Visit http://www.activetrans.org/footprints for more info and to sign up.
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