Glenn Butcher

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Commuting by Bicycle in Colorado

The company I work for is moving to new digs across the freeway from where I live. I've made no secret that I'm less than enamoured with my driving commute (it's actually worse than to the old building, it's to an Air Force base 15 miles east of town, appended by a 1/4-mile walk from the parking lot to the building, nominally 50 minutes in transit), especially after last Friday where a woman was killed by a loose part from an on-coming truck. Were it not for my doctor's appointment, I stood a fair chance of being at that place on the road, at that time.

All this is in the context of moving back from Kwajalein about 8 months ago. Now, there was an ideal commuting situation - couldn't own cars, didn't need them. The island was all of 2 1/2 miles long by 1/2 mile wide, flat as a board, and (and this is really important) bicycles had critical mass over the relatively few official vehicles. I posted a comment to Slashdot here last year that sums up the experience. Needless to say, I welcome any opportunity to keep the car in the driveway (can't park in the garage yet, too much Kwaj stuff still to be unpacked... :D)

Anyway, I hauled out the old mountain bike (Specialized Hard Rock, circa 1988), replaced the tubes, and dry-ran the route this weekend. The upshot was, even after almost three years of bicycling as my primary transportation, I felt like a total newbie. I had to hunch over the handlebars (my Kwaj bike had "sting-ray" handlebars), I had to content with elevation changes, and CARS DON'T MAKE WAY FOR YOU!! Geesh... I'm fortunate in that almost half of the 4-mile route is on bike/pedestrian trails, but there are some rather hairy road situations with which to contend. Here's a map of the route:

Between the house and work, the following must be crossed:

  • Interstate 25
  • Monument Creek
  • UP-BNSF Joint Line (railroad)

The freeway and creek are easy; they just finished the first part of an east-west trail on Cottonwood creek that crosses under the freeway bridges and deposits you on the Pikes Peak Greenway, a backbone trail running for about 14 miles from Palmer Lake to Fountain. Proceeding south on that trail, it comes to a bridge over Monument Creek.

After that, it gets tricky, as the trail continues to follow the creek and I need to be angling toward work. So, I get off the trail into a parking lot and weave my way south through a series of them until I can't anymore, which puts me at the intersection of Mark Dabling and Rockrimmon Blvds. Here, there is a railroad underpass, but there are no bike lanes or sidewalks. After that it gets a little better, but I'm in traffic now - not used to that. S'Okay; I'm at work about 1/8 of a mile later. Man, I miss Kwaj...

Well, they won't start moving in 'till at least July. I'll post again after I've had a chance to work this commute into my weekly routine.

Posting disabled, for now...

Still Not Biking...
Posted by Glenn on 7/1/2006 21:36 UTC

Schedule's too volatile, never know where I'll be working from day-to-day.