An informative article in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette offers examples of how bike commuters overcome scary arterial roads, long distances and even hills by devising hybrid commute solutions.
League Cycling Instructor, Tom Ezell, avoids a narrow 2-lane highway with aggressive drivers by driving part way and riding the rest.
“So what I do is drive down to park on the North Little Rock riverfront and then ride my bike on the River Trail to where I work at the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality in North Shore Park,” he says. “I’ll ride back in the afternoon and pick up the truck, go home.” Simply by realizing that he doesn’t have to start pedaling at his front door, Ezell has hurdled a barrier that looms large for many would-be bicycle commuters: scary traffic. He has found what bike seller Bruce Thalheimer calls “the sweet spot” along his daily route, the point at which “the when, the where and the how” come together so “I can’t” becomes “I could.” Driving to the place where he can take advantage of an urban trail, Ezell avoids traffic.
With a 27 mile one-way commute, eliminating 12 miles of unpleasant road still results in significant gas savings.
David Holsted uses a mass-transit hybrid:
When he does feel determined to bike to his job along one of west Little Rock’s busiest arteries, he pedals in the early morning while traffic is calm. And then in the afternoon, “I throw the bike up on the bus and ride it down to the bus station, and then I can get off there and make it to the house, no problem,” he says.
James Terbach uses the bus in the opposite direction to overcome the obstacle of arriving sweaty at work:
“I do this twice a week,” he says. “The bus is great. It’s super easy, it’s super convenient. The bus stop is right by my home, two blocks away. Other people, if they live a couple of miles from the bus stop, they could bike to the bus stop.” And he doesn’t have to mess about with cleaning up for work.
Another cyclist, Diane McConnell, discovered that the “sweet spot” was attitude. Just giving herself permission to take it easy on the hills made them a whole lot less daunting.
I’ve discovered this one myself. I have an alternate route that takes me through more residential areas. When I want a really leisurely commute, I use that route and ride 10-12 mph if I feel like it. On a relatively short commute, the difference between hammering and moseying amounts to only a few minutes. Timing of traffic lights has a greater effect on my total travel time than how fast I ride.