Tuesday, April 6, 2010

More 250 Bypass experience...

So, I rode on the 250 bypass here in Charlottesville, VA again.  This time I went both ways.  On the way out to my destination it was rush hour.  (Bear with me.  I'm NOT bragging!) 

The part I rode was between McIntire Road and Hydraulic.  The posted speed limits on this section of 250 is 35 mph and 45mph, and I'll argue that I was closer to the 35 speed limit on my bicycle than anyone in a car.  I'll restate that the right lanes going in both directions really do have room for lane sharing.  Many cars were able to pass me on my left giving me a decent distance.  Of course there were 2 drivers who were probably trying to prove a point by buzzing by within the limits of my 'bubble,' but still even they did pass me in the same lane.  There were many more drivers who showed me the courtesy to give me space.  
By the way, McIntire dead ends into the bypass.  There happens to be a bike lane all the way down McIntire from the Intersection at Preston Avenue.  I have to say it is not the safest bike lane with the iron grates, warped cracks, and debris cluttering it. Again, it was rush hour, and I chose not to zoom down the right side of the long line of stopped traffic to make my way to the light.  I decided instead to act like a vehicle of the road as a cyclist is supposed to do, and waited my turn behind a car as we made our way through the crowded red lights.  Part of that decision was due to the poor bike lane.  But part of it was to be an example to the car drivers around me that I've got nothing to prove by being on a bike, that I'm simply trying to get somewhere too.  
Even though I wasn't making any left turns off of the bypass, and it was pretty much a straight shot, I still had to strive to communicate my intentions as I passed the off ramps.  I didn't really know how to do that, but chose to simply point ahead of me and a bit out to the side, trying to show that I wanted to continue on without taking the off ramp, and that I did NOT want drivers to jet in front of me only to take the exit themselves and cut me off.  I also had to scan right as I was coming up to the on ramps to be aware of any on coming traffic.  I know there are other cyclists who ride this part of the bypass (not many), but I certainly felt alone out there. 

 To ride to my destination any other way would have added at least 10 minutes if not more onto the trip.  I feel more convinced now that utilizing this part of the 250 bypass on bicycle is a viable option, and I hope more cyclists try it.  I also hope that someday, even within this year, 'sharrows' are placed out there on the pavement.  It would be an excellent spot to experiment with those here in Charlottesville.  Again, the speed limit is only 35 mph on that part of 250.  It is not an interstate!  With some help from the local police dept. enforcing that limit, some sharrow markings, and more cyclists utilizing it as their lawful right, there is no reason for any cyclist to be intimidated by that section of 250.

PS-  I was riding my 1982 Fuji Del Rey.   :)


Climate Change said...

I know how it is - I used 250 a year ago - like you said, it is lonely and very loud. My best to you - I'll get out there again on my next trip to the north side of town.

Matteo said...

Thanks Mark,

It was fun meeting you at Cville Market for the first time by chance just after getting your comment. Don't forget to send me your contact info, and we'll try to get out on a ride together soon.