A couple weeks ago I saw an electronic sign as I approached the ped/bike soundwall walk-through stating that the path would be closed for two months. Dismayed, I researched, and couldn’t find more information on it. Finally late last week I saw an official news release.

I’d have to find a new route. I’d have to find an alternative to what has long been my favorite part of my commute. I wasn’t looking forward to this. When I’m on the road, I’m very confident. When I’m choosing what roads to take, I’m not. This is an issue of experience. But sometimes it is also an issue of options. That was a great route!

I have resources. I looked online, and didn’t find much useful information in the routes people posted.

I looked at maps, and was still uncertain.

I remembered that the bike advocacy / bike safety teacher who gave me my original barely-deviated-from route had mentioned that Van Dorn was more direct and pretty bikable.

So Van Dorn it was. Up big hills, past a mall, past two metro entrances and a highway entrance, and finally I was to the 2nd half of the commute I know so well. The road was very rough in some places, but overall the description of “pretty bikable” was right. In the morning, there’s almost no traffic. It is also close to 2 miles shorter, and so I’m saving some time. Not a lot, granted, but some. And sometimes a little goes a long way. If nothing else, it is nice to know that I can shave 10 minutes off my commute (or more, maybe, I’m not quite sure yet) simply by choosing a different route. Even if it isn’t as pretty.

But I knew the morning would be pretty easy – I’m ahead of the crowd in the mornings.

The afternoon was a bit more challenging. Amazingly, to me, the drivers remained civilized. My legs were beat from the hills. According to the mapping sites I’ve used, I have less total ascending and descending on the more direct commute, yet it must also be more concentrated, because it is giving my legs a beating!

And though overall it wasn’t a bad route, it also wasn’t a great route. I decided to fiddle with it. I looked at my bike map again, and got some ideas. I made my decisions before the ride home today.

I’m in love. Completely. We’ll see if it stands the test of time, but so far? Pure pleasure.

I will take more pictures hopefully soon, but for now, just two of the many details I love about my new commute:

After riding through a charming neighborhood with almost zero traffic and well maintained streets, I come to this pretty little bike/ped bridge. This is part of the Holmes Run park, which (confusingly to me) encompasses Cameron Run…waterway? The river/stream/creek is Cameron Run.

And then riding through the next charming neighborhood with almost no traffic, I saw this sign, which I circled back to take a picture of. I think this baffled the pedestrian, who watched me with a wary eye, one hand on his backpack strap as he prepared to run screaming into the gorgeous afternoon if the cyclist did anything even more bizarre…

For the record, I am a HUGE fan of the “Safe Route To School” program. I have many reasons for this. First of all, kids spend plenty of time in the car, and it is a great way to safely show them an alternative to motorized transportation. Second of all, if it is safe to ride, it is safe to walk, and we’re talking about schools. Third of all, if more kids (and their parents maybe, like Random) were riding their bikes instead of being driven in cars, the areas around schools would be safer. Much much safer. For the kids, for the parents, and for everyone else who is trying to navigate the area.

In my commute it isn’t riding on the 3 lane 35mph-but-everyone-goes-50mph road that I find the most harrowing. It is navigating past the two schools at pick-the-kids-up time. Those are the drivers paying no attention, who are impatient and aggressive. It drives me crazy. They are putting their kids’ friends in danger, and their kids’ friends’ parents are putting their kids in danger! Why don’t they get this?

Anyway, rant aside, I was thrilled to see these bike route school direction signs. I took a picture of just one, but there were more!

I didn’t even take a picture of the best part. The house that completely charmed me, complete with a significant garden in the front yard, had a person in that front yard tending the garden. I felt funny stopping to take a picture, though I doubt he’d have noticed. Still, there is tomorrow.

I will be riding this route again. In fact, if today is indicative of how this route will be normally, I think I have found a new permanent route.

Sometimes change works out really well.