Upper Connecticut Ave v. side streets
Hi! After using and really enjoying Capital Bikeshare, I recently bought a bike of my own and I've been using it for commuting and getting around town. I live on Connecticut Ave a few blocks south of the Maryland border and I work near Metro Center. I've got pretty good routes for the downtown part of my commute, but my question is what to do for the northern portion.
I usually take the bike route that goes on side streets west of Connecticut, which starts out on 36th, goes past the National Cathedral and down 29th and then crosses Connecticut at Calvert St. But I hit a fair amount of traffic in the morning from people dropping their kids off at various neighborhood schools. And while the area around the National Cathedral is a lot of fun when you're going downhill, it's a bit of a slog going the other way.
When I was using CaBi I would usually stick to Connecticut Ave -- there are some fairly intense hills when you're going north, but they seem more interspersed with downhill stretches. But I was mostly riding on the sidewalk, which kind of made me feel like a jerk (even though I was going pretty slow and tried my best to give adequate warning/space to pedestrians). So, I guess the question is: how safe is it to ride in street on Connecticut? Or mostly on the street and occasionally bailing on the sidewalk for the intense hills when I'm moving really slow? Or should I just suck it up and stick with the side streets?
It looks like this is your current route: http://goo.gl/maps/dHwS7
I have extremely limited experience in that area, but have you tried going from 36th onto Tilden and using that to cross Rock Creek Park?http://goo.gl/maps/9nDBP Mind you, for the return trip, I've only gone up Tilden once, and though it's a workout to overcome, you at least have a nice bike lane so you don't have to bail onto the sidewalk.
In general, I like to stay in the street, even when on a steep hill and I'm going very slow, but that's my preference. It depends on your comfort level and the area you are in (I generally avoid Connecticut Ave altogether plus in some areas like the DC Central Business District it is illegal to bike on the sidewalk).
I hope this helps and that you are able to find the most suitable route(s). I'm interested to see what is the best route around there.
I'll have to give Tilden a try! I've been a little bit shy about going across the park that far north ever since I made the mistake of following bikeplanner.org's suggestion that Klingle Rd/Porter St was the most bike friendly AND least hilly route... But it's probably worth giving it another try.
I've been staying on Connecticut more lately, riding in the street in the middle of right traffic lane. It's been pretty fun -- I find that as long as I'm good about taking the lane, cars tend to be willing to give me enough room when passing. Taking the side streets takes longer, but it is a bit less stressful since there are fewer cars. I think I'll probably vary my route based on my hill v. traffic tolerance.