UPDATE: Wouldn’t ya know it. Right after we shot this video they closed the trail at Layer Elementary to work on the bridge just east of it. I have a work-around for that. It is shown on the map at the bottom of this post. Here is a video of how to use gaps between platoons to make 434 and 419 easy.
This is the first Close the Gaps tutorial post. It’s a gap I’m often asked about. A lot of people have figured this one out, but there are still many who are not sure where to pick up the trail at one end or the other. Having ridden this a number of times, I’ve seen a lot of evidence that even if people do know where to go, they don’t necessarily know how to do it safely. So this post and accompanying video will include both the route and instructions for safe behavior.
There are 2 methods for dealing with 419 — using the road or using the sidewalk on the west side. Either is fine. The video below demonstrates the method using the road.
To use the sidewalk
If you want to use the sidewalk heading north/west, simply turn left from the trail at Layer onto the sidewalk, use the crosswalk to cross 419. Go one block to Wade St. and cross again. Wade has no sidewalks, but very little traffic.
South/eastbound, use the left lane from Wade St. to cross 419. The sidewalk is set back 100ft from the intersection. Ride to it as though you were preparing for a left turn onto a street: turn from the left side of the right lane on Wade St. (Do not ride against traffic in the oncoming lane.)
To use the road
From the end of the path at Layer Elementary, you must cross the narrow grass strip and turn right into the school entrance. Then you can go left around the median and out the exit. Heading northbound is very easy. Simply turn right into the shoulder (you can also use the lane here, the shoulder is optional). In 300ft, enter the right turn lane for Wade St. Ride in the center of the turn lane. Don’t try to “stay out of the way” on the edge. Only use the “bike” pocket if you are continuing up 419. To get to the path, turn right on Wade St. Go to the stop sign at the end and turn left on Old Sanford-Oviedo Rd. There is very little traffic on these roads. Most of it is commercial truck traffic. Those drivers are used to seeing bicyclists here. At the end of Old Sanford-Oviedo Rd., you’ll see a guard rail on the right. Where the guard rail ends, there is dirt trail. This can be dicey for skinny tires, but it’s doable. Use an easy gear and keep pedaling. The trail emerges at the end of the utility easement path that continues through Spring Hammock Preserve.
Headed south/east, when you come to the end of the path through Spring Hammock, you’ll see the dirt trail to the left. At the other end, take a left onto Old Sanford-Oviedo Rd., go to the stop sign at Wade St. and turn right. At 419, there is a right turn only lane and a lane that goes straight and left. Use the left lane to make a left onto 419, or to go across and use the sidewalk. Heading southeast on 419, use the left side of the thru lane to discourage any motorist from passing as you are entering the left turn lane. You can also signal your turn early. If you wait for a long gap in traffic before turning onto 419, you should be able to get all the way to the school without cars behind you. Access the path from the Elementary School entrance. Make sure you cross the grass strip as perpendicular as possible to avoid catching a wheel on the sidewalk lip.
Common mistakes to avoid
Wrong-Way Riding accounts for 45% of bike v car crashes in the metro area. I see way too many people riding the wrong way out the school exit. If a motorist were to come around the corner into that driveway, they’d be in trouble. Like wise, on the southbound trip, if you use the road, please ride with traffic in the southbound lane. I see a lot of people riding against traffic in the northbound shoulder. This is not only a danger to themselves, it creates problems for bicyclists riding the correct direction.
Swooping Left Turns are also a common crash cause. Bicyclists who believe they have to keep to the edge of the road often make left turns from the right edge, bike lane or shoulder. You are required to make a left turn from the left side of a lane or from a left turn lane (unless you are making an alternative box turn). When preparing for a left turn, move to the left side of the lane early. This communicates your intentions to drivers even before you make an arm signal.
Shoulder Use is fine when riding northbound and preparing to turn right. I’ve seen a number of southbound bicyclists use the shoulder and then get trapped there by overtaking cars when they wanted to turn left into Layer. It’s only 300ft to the left turn lane, it doesn’t make sense to go into the shoulder and risk being trapped there. It makes your movement safer and more predictable for everyone if you use the road like you would if you were driving any other vehicle.
Below is the Google Map I’m building for this project. I have already added the routing for the gap after Big Tree Park. Lisa and I have actually shot that route twice and both times my GoPro froze. We only got forward-facing video, which is nice for showing where to go, but the rear-facing is wonderful for showing how we get courteous passing behavior from motorists. The camera has gone back to the manufacturer for replacement. I hope to be able to finish that one in a few weeks. In the meantime, I have have a few other random segments I can work on. This project will take some time as I fit it into my schedule, but if you have a specific gap that’s giving you difficulty, please let me know.
View larger map