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RE: [BikeWashingtonDC] Commuting route from Fairfax to Herndon - New rider

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  • Howard E. Rosenman
    ... Actually, the speed limit on the Fairfax County Parkway is 50 -- and due to the lack of a physical barrier between travel lanes (except a grassy median) in
    Message 1 of 8 , Aug 31, 2005
      At 10:05 AM 8/31/2005, Lauren@BikeWashington wrote:

      >The speed limit is 55 and most cars drive 65+,


      Actually, the speed limit on the Fairfax County Parkway is 50 -- and
      due to the lack of a physical barrier between travel lanes (except a
      grassy median) in a lot of places, its had its share of serious
      fatalities. Flying debris is another good reason to stick to the path.

      ..Howard





      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • D Rankin
      I try to commute by bike a couple of days a week whenever I can. I commute from Reston to Herndon, and while I am in Reston, I primarily use the back, smaller
      Message 2 of 8 , Sep 10, 2005
        I try to commute by bike a couple of days a week whenever I can. I commute from Reston to Herndon, and while I am in Reston, I primarily use the back, smaller trails that go through the woods, past golf courses, etc. I have to be more careful for joggers/walkers, etc that may have headphones on, but it is such a scenic route that I don't mind maneuvering around 3 or 4 people that can't hear me over their music. I feel much safer on the paths than I do the roads during rush hour, even though I usually ride my road bike on the roads, I avoid doing so in rush hour. I ride my hybrid on the paths.

        The ride for your commute once you get to Sunrise Valley is paved on one side. I get on Sunrise Valley at Reston Parkway for my commute. At one point there is a guard rail that blocks the non-street path by about 90%, but I just go very slowly past it. You have to watch people turning into the businesses both in front of you and behind you as you ride past each entrance. In the morning people seem to see you more, but in the evening as you are riding down the path, the people turning right out of the businesses are looking the opposite way that you are coming so you really have to watch them.

        I can stay on the paved trail for almost all of my trip on Sunrise Valley. Right before Van Buren the path is non existent for about 100 or so yards, so I ride in the road there and I have never even had someone honk at me. I turn right on Van Buren and stay on the path until just before the bridge over the toll road, then I have to cross the street and get back on the bridge. From there I am on the sidewalk all of the way to work, turning left onto Worldgate. That would get you to Elden / Centerville road. Or, instead of going the way I go, if you need to get closer to the clock tower you can stay on Sunrise Valley Parkway, but you will be riding in the street or need to cross over to the other side of the street to ride on the sidewalk. There is construction there on the right side, so riding in the street for the next few months would probably expose your tires to more debris than usual.

        I purchase my hybrid at the performance bike shop in your area. It is a Giant Cypress SX and leans more towards the flat bar road bike-hybrid side. I think they run about $500. It can go over roots and curbs and things with no problems for the wheels. The standard tires have held up well in the road debris that is sometime on the paths near the roads and seem to always be on the side of the roads in Herndon. They have less expensive versions of the Giant at Performance that lean more towards light mountain bike-hybrids or comfort-hybrids as well. Rudy, one of the managers at the Performance shop down your way is very high on bike commuters. He could offer you some tips and may even let you try out a bike on your commute path.

        I hope this helps.
        Dave

        clayton_oneill <coneill@...> wrote:
        I'm investigating the possibility of commuting from the Fair Oaks area
        to Herndon. My commute would be from around Fairfax Corner/Fairfax
        Govt Center to the corner of Sunrise Valley and Centreville Road in
        Herndon.

        I have a number of questions and concerns that I'm trying to work out.
        The biggest problem I have right now is that I have no bike (I
        haven't ridden since I was a kid) and don't want to spend a lot of
        money on one to find out if the route if even feasible. I have the
        issue of whether or not I would stick with it on top of that, but I'm
        willing to deal with that if/when it comes up.

        From the research I've done so far, I have a few options on the
        beginning and end of this route, but right now Fairfax County
        Parkway/7100 looks like it would be the bulk of the ride. I've driven
        the route recently during morning traffic to see how bad the traffic
        got, and check out the path and shoulder. The path looks not that
        bad, but it definitely gets hairy at a few intersections, especially
        crossing 50.

        I've also seen it mentioned a lot that recent studies have shown that
        bike paths are not as safe as simply riding with traffic. I can see
        some logic in this, but I'm definite more intimidated by the idea.
        However, I did keep an eye on traffic on the path on the side, and
        almost all of it seemed to be pedestrians. I'd hate to collide with
        someone at speed, and I can see how it'd be hard to avoid at times
        without going fairly slow.

        I guess what would be ideal is if someone that has traveled or does
        travel this route could pipe up and give their experiences. I
        searched around a bit here and on bikeforums.net, dc.biking, but
        nothing conclusive about whether or not this is something to
        completely avoid or not.

        Also, I live in Fairfax and would welcome some recommendations for
        bike shops. I'm thinking I would want to pick up a used by cheap on
        craigslist or some such, but I would need to pick up misc stuff like a
        helmet, repair kit, etc. REI is extremely close to me and convenient
        (and I'm already a member), so if people feel their selection and
        pricing is ok, that'd be great. However, I get the feeling I'd be
        better off somewhere more specialized and leaving REI to spur of the
        moment needs. Some research online indicates that Performance Bikes
        and Bikes by Vienna are nearby, so comments on those or suggestions
        for others would be great.

        Thanks in advance.







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      • Bruce Wright
        I ride much of this route on a regular basis. In fact, I just returned from the Government Center. I attend a night meeting there and usually commute by bike.
        Message 3 of 8 , Sep 14, 2005
          I ride much of this route on a regular basis. In fact,
          I just returned from the Government Center. I attend a
          night meeting there and usually commute by bike. I use
          a niterider trail rat headlight, a good tailight, and
          lots of reflective gear.

          From the Government Center I ride on Monument Dr. to
          the Fairfax County Parkway trail. Monument is
          relatively wide and I prefer it to the winding, trail
          adjacent to the road. I take the parkway trail to Fox
          Mill, then cut through the Stratton Woods development
          to get home. You're right about the parkway trail
          crossings being dangerous, especially at Route 50. You
          have to be very careful crossing the exit/entrance
          ramps as traffic move very fast there.

          For your commute, I suggest you take the parkway trail
          to Sunrise Valley Dr. As mentioned earlier, there is a
          trail and sidewalk adjacent to Sunrise Valley, but I
          prefer riding in the road. There are two lanes each
          way and I haven't had many problems with aggressive
          drivers even though Sunrise Valley isn't very wide in
          this stretch. I take it all the way to the Clocktower
          shopping center. An alternative would be to take the
          parkway trail to Fox Mill and follow it all the way to
          Sunrise Valley Dr.

          Bruce



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