Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Getting to work

With the (yet once again) talks of raising transit fares ($3 a ride...are they kidding?), my desire to do some part for the environment, and my never ceasing dislike of my butt, I bought a bike and began riding to work occasionally. A couple of weeks ago I mentioned I'd blog about my commute to show you what it's really like to hop and a bike and brave the traffic. This morning I finally managed to haul myself out of bed in time to do it. So here's the background information. My ride is a little over five miles, not really that far. I don't push myself to go fast because I'd rather get to work in one piece than in an ambulance. I take Milwaukee Ave. most of the way downtown. It's a pretty popular bike route, and I see lots of other riders. I see some that are already dressed for work. Now a lot of these people look like they have the types of jobs that let them wear jeans and a t-shirt, though I do occasionally see a guy that's in dress slacks. This is not me. I prefer to ride to work in sweats, get sweaty and then shower at the gym. Yeah, it means I'm at the gym a couple of times a day (three if I go to yoga at lunch and then go after work) but I'd rather do that than sit around in my once sweaty clothes all day at work.

So I did a Google map of my route. You can see it here.

So today I'm going to describe my ride from my house to Milwaukee Ave. (Follow along the map if you like).

Once I leave my apartment, get downstairs, get my bike from the basement, and hop on, I head East on Altgeld. Atlgeld is a one-way street between Fullerton and Wrightwood. Wrightwood has a shared bike lane on it, but since it's early, I just head down Altgeld to Kedzie. The only problem with riding down Altgeld is it is a narrow one way street. If there is a car behind me, I have to get over as far as possible to let them pass. If I don't do this quick enough, I will invariable get honked at or the car will pass so close to me I think they're trying to knock me over. But, I usually leave my apartment by 6:45 a.m., so there are not too many drivers.

After five blocks on Altgeld, I reach Kedzie. One of the pretty city boulevards, it's usually pretty easy to zip past this four lane street and onto Albany. Albany is a cute little quiet street that curves from Kedzie to Fullerton. It has a light at the end of the street, so it's easy for me to make the left turn on to Fullerton. After making the left, I'm on Fullerton for all of one-and-a-half blocks. I have to say, this is sometimes the worse part of my commute. Fullerton has no bike lane on it. It also has drivers that expect to be going over 30 and apparently don't have time to slow down for a bike. What makes it even more interesting is that in a couple of places, after Sacramento for example, the right lane gets pretty narrow, so cars have to go into the other lane to get around me (if there are cars parked, which there always are). I usually get honked at while riding down this stretch. Once I get closer to Milwaukee, a lot of cars will pass by me closely as they are speeding up to get in front of me to make the right on to Milwaukee. I always try to signal that I'm turning right, but it doesn't seem to matter.

All-in-all, my ride to Milwaukee takes about 10 minutes. I hope reading about it was as fun as it was riding it this morning. I'd like to make this series of posts interactive. Feel free to ask me questions about my commute and I'll respond to them.

Tomorrow: Milwaukee Ave. - Does having a bike lane make riding easier?

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