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Thread: Route advice, please Oakton, Virginia

  1. #1
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    Default Route advice, please Oakton, Virginia

    Hi all,
    Im wondering if anyone is familiar with the Oakton, VA area. I need to get from Arlington to Coulter Lane in Oakton. It will be dark out in both directions, and Im a bit spooked by fast winding roads with no shoulder.
    Google maps puts me on the WOD, then a left on Hunter Station Road, a right on Lawyers Road, a left on Birdfoot Lane, and a right on Stuart Mill/669.
    I am guessing these roads are not so safe for bicycle riders (?). Any intelligence or advice would be greatly appreciated. Im always happy to take a longer route if its safer, and I dont mind hills.
    I have a week to figure this out. If its too risky I will use a car, but who wants to drive when you can bike.
    Thanks for any insights!
    wheels&wings

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    Quote Originally Posted by wheels&wings View Post
    Hi all,
    I’m wondering if anyone is familiar with the Oakton, VA area. I need to get from Arlington to Coulter Lane in Oakton. It will be dark out in both directions, and I’m a bit spooked by fast winding roads with no shoulder.
    Google maps puts me on the WOD, then a left on Hunter Station Road, a right on Lawyers Road, a left on Birdfoot Lane, and a right on Stuart Mill/669.
    I am guessing these roads are not so safe for bicycle riders (?). Any intelligence or advice would be greatly appreciated. I’m always happy to take a longer route if it’s safer, and I don’t mind hills.
    I have a week to figure this out. If it’s too risky I will use a car, but who wants to drive when you can bike.
    For Fairfax, those are basically bicycle luxury roads. If you check out the strava heat map you'll see that they're pretty heavily used (they're part of one of my go-to loops). There are hills. There are definitely no better options. The most dicey part (IMO) is the "dark". If you're really lit up it should be ok, but I can certainly see being hesitant to ride these in the dark if unfamiliar. And if "dark" coincides with "rush hour" that does change the traffic profile.

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  4. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by wheels&wings View Post
    Hi all,
    I’m wondering if anyone is familiar with the Oakton, VA area. I need to get from Arlington to Coulter Lane in Oakton. It will be dark out in both directions, and I’m a bit spooked by fast winding roads with no shoulder.
    Google maps puts me on the WOD, then a left on Hunter Station Road, a right on Lawyers Road, a left on Birdfoot Lane, and a right on Stuart Mill/669.
    I am guessing these roads are not so safe for bicycle riders (?). Any intelligence or advice would be greatly appreciated. I’m always happy to take a longer route if it’s safer, and I don’t mind hills.
    I have a week to figure this out. If it’s too risky I will use a car, but who wants to drive when you can bike.
    Thanks for any insights!
    wheels&wings
    That route is probably your best bet. Hunter Station and Birdfoot are very steep climbs. Lawyers will be the busiest, but you are not on it for very long, and there are bike lanes between Hunter Station and Twin Branches. Birdfoot and Stuart Mill are sparsely traveled in my experience, although I cannot vouch for their condition during a weekday evening rush hour. In all these roads are popular with cyclists, so regular drivers are used to seeing them.

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    Also, "dark" in this part of the world means really dark, not Arlington dark. So, on the one hand you need to have a good headlight, on the other, any additional accessory lighting will make you highly visible.

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    Thanks, bentbike33 and mstone. Your observations are supremely helpful. One direction would be in evening rush hour; the other would be later. Im thinking Id best not undertake this by bike Im too aware of the drunk driving and speeding these days and the skyrocketing #s of road deaths. The suburban street-scape is just crazy (and will only get worse when we add electric SUVs weighing as much as 9000 lbs grotesque.) Thanks much!! c.

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    No one likes the Soapstone to Foxclove to Stuart Mill redirect, keeping OP off Lawyers Rd? Depending on the W&OD departure point, there's a bit of Sunrise Valley to deal with but it might be less whizz-by hairy than Hunter Mill?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Meh View Post
    No one likes the Soapstone to Foxclove to Stuart Mill redirect, keeping OP off Lawyers Rd? Depending on the W&OD departure point, there's a bit of Sunrise Valley to deal with but it might be less whizz-by hairy than Hunter Mill?
    Hunter Station, not Hunter Mill. (Important distinction.) I agree that the Lawyers/Hunter Mill intersection is hideous, but Hunter Station and Lawyers to the west are much better (IMO). If the concern is the no-shoulder nature of Stuart Mill then a Soapstone detour isn't going to avoid that (and probably puts you on a relatively busier section of Stuart Mill with somewhat worse visibility). Stretches of Soapstone are nice, but overall I think the intersections are worse and getting to Soapstone from the W&OD is pretty ick. (Around rush hour I don't even like to be in a car on those roads.) It's the usual VDOT thing where they make a half-hearted attempt at multi-use infrastructure, but as soon as it gets hard/would require impacting vehicle LOS, they default to stroads with disconnected bits of "what could have been". I do think it's nice that they've done some road diets, but the real issues (again IMO) are at the conflict points rather than in the middle of long stretches of quiet road, and they're completely unwilling to change how they build intersections (why have 2 lanes when you could have 6, and why put in 4 crosswalks when nobody can make you put in more than 1 or 2?)

    Edit to add: most of this stuff is, of course, subjective. Different people have preferences for different kinds of roads, familiarity can really affect perceptions, and time of day/day of week can dramatically change how a road feels.
    Last edited by mstone; 12-05-2021 at 05:51 PM.

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  14. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by wheels&wings View Post
    Thanks, bentbike33 and mstone. Your observations are supremely helpful. One direction would be in evening rush hour; the other would be later. Im thinking Id best not undertake this by bike Im too aware of the drunk driving and speeding these days and the skyrocketing #s of road deaths. The suburban street-scape is just crazy (and will only get worse when we add electric SUVs weighing as much as 9000 lbs grotesque.) Thanks much!! c.
    Truthfully, drivers during rush hour are far less likely to be drunk than during what would have been your return trip. Heavier traffic is not always more dangerous, because speeds are often reduced. When traffic is light, some drivers are more apt to speed and fly around corners and over hills. All that said, even I would be wary to try this ride in the dark on my first try.

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