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View Full Version : Biking to Suitland. Safe?



creadinger
04-04-2011, 03:49 PM
For the past 5 years I had a great commute. I rode ~13 miles daily through the suburbs from downtown Silver Spring to Bethesda. Every so often I would come up with a new, longer route while also finding some new hills to maximize training benefits.

However, starting in December I got a new job in Suitland, MD (the armpit of DC) and I haven't biked to work since. Now I'm suffering from some serious cycling withdrawal and beltway road rage. We're moving to Crystal City this month, which will thankfully make for a manageable distance to commute and now I'm wondering if anyone has had any experience riding in southeast PG County? Is it safe enough? And by safe I mean safe from drivers and from criminals?

Any recommended routes? From Crystal City, Google maps suggests going into DC on the 14th St Bridge, then cutting across SE to the Frederick Douglas Bridge and up Good Hope Road. Fortunately bike parking/storage isn't a problem because my final destination is the Suitland Federal Center.

Thanks in advance for any tips, advice, information. I doubt I can ride daily anymore, but I would love to be able to ride 1-2 days/week.

Mark Blacknell
04-05-2011, 08:18 AM
I ride something akin to that route as part of a regular recreational loop out of Arlington (MVT-Wilson Bridge-Oxon Hill-MLK Dr.- Douglass Bridge-SE/SW-14th St. Bridge). It's a perfectly fine/safe route, in my experience. The only problem I've had was a really ugly swipe at me on S. Capitol St. by someone who didn't think I should be on the the road. That was a single incident, though. I've also ridden Good Hope, but not enough to make any useful observations. To get to Good Hope, you can make a hard right at the end of the Douglass Bridge and go under it to get to Anacostia Dr (which is a very low traffic waterfront road) and follow that north to Good Hope (cf. heading east at Howard Dr and then north on MLK). Do note, however, that the trolly-line construction going on at the end of the Douglass Bridge looks like it might block that access from time to time (this is just based on a quick look as I was riding by last week - maybe they're careful about it. But maybe not.)

There's also the Suitland Parkway Bike Trail, but I've never even seen it, and this description (http://www.thewashcycle.com/2005/12/cwl_3_suitland_.html) isn't encouraging. On the other hand, it's an old description (2005).

In short, it's a commute that I'd be comfortable making.

napes
04-05-2011, 10:35 AM
I commuted by bicycle to the Suitland Federal Center from Virginia for a few years. Iím a middle aged white guy who biked during daylight hours, and never felt particularly at risk of traffic or crime on the routes I chose, although some areas off the main route had me more on edge. This is an overlay of my routes.

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?hl=en&ie=UTF8&msa=0&msid=211529365885007757045.0004a02cff457592946a9&ll=38.869652,-76.981544&spn=0.065222,0.110378&z=13

Blue was uphill from the river. Massachusetts Avenue SE has a nice bike lane that made the detour worthwhile. Because I had a mountain bike, I could easily go cross field from Fort Davis Drive to Alabama Avenue. I also usually cut through Cedar Hill Cemetery. I would usually just take the lane on Pennsylvania downhill.

The biggest disadvantage to the Suitland Parkway route was that there was no easy cut through for bicycle riders at Southern Avenue SE and Naylor Road and Southern Avenue SE and Branch Avenue. From the map it looks like there is, but it was a fenced-in apartment complex. Maybe that has changed now.

DaveK
04-06-2011, 11:46 AM
Alabama Ave from Good Hope Rd to Suitland Rd is a good ride, pretty flat. Suitland Rd from Alabama to the MD line is great because it's traffic calmed to keep the cars slowed down.

creadinger
04-06-2011, 07:54 PM
Thanks guys for your input! Now I just need to convince my wife that it's safe enough. :) I think once we get settled in Arlington, I'll do a couple of exploratory rides and then hopefully I can start cycling to work once/week and go from there. If all goes well I can keep my streak of 5 straight WABA bike to work days going.

One last question - While riding in that area do you always ride your "junker" bikes? I wouldn't ever need to ride my best bike, but how about the B team, or is it always your reserves? Haha.

Dave, sometimes I drive down that road with the massive speed humps and I can tell you that I've often thought how much fun it would be to cruise down the hill on my bike while the cars have to go frustratingly slow.

creadinger
05-09-2011, 10:47 AM
Did my first commute last Thursday and everything about the route went pretty well! I'm especially impressed about the fact that so much of it is either on trails, roads with bike lanes, or quiet roads even though I cut right through southern DC and cross 2 rivers. It's 24 miles so about double my previous commute. Question - does anyone have an alternate route going westbound from the waterfront/Maine avenue area to the trail along the 14th st bridge? I feel weird riding the sidewalk along Maine Ave and riding against that much traffic in the road would just be dumb.

Here are a couple of things I noted in case other people are commuting in the area -

There is extensive construction along Anacostia Dr SE, and most of the road section is one-way northbound right now. There's some weird paint markings that may be indicating a bike lane, but it's hard to tell... this makes cycling soutbound a little scary. Also, there's the usual rough sections that go along with construction, especially right near Pennsylvania Ave.

Randle Circle is freakin weird! It's more of a theta than a circle with Minnesota Ave cutting right through it. Plus, the Minn Ave traffic has the right of way, and crossing it going eastbound toward Mass Ave can take a while. There's construction in that area as well.

Not visible yet on Google street view - Alabama Ave has bike lanes, north of Pennsylvania Ave.

I'm not a fan of the large trash hauling trucks parked right near the southwest corner of the Frederick Douglas bridge. Very smelly.

There was a lot of glass around. Maybe that's normal for urban areas in general, but it seemed like an awful lot.

If anyone else has any info about the area, I'd love to hear it.