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Old 05-25-2009, 07:52 PM
 
Location: South South Jersey
1,652 posts, read 3,402,977 times
Reputation: 734

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I come from a place where I could happily ride my bike in the evening (with good head- and tail lights, of course) and was wondering if this is possible anywhere in NoVA. The situation seems to be the following - if you're "in" close enough that there are sidewalks/places to go to, it's so dense that a car may smash you if you have to leave the sidewalk temporarily. If you're "out" too far at all, there cease to be sidewalks and, again, a speeding car (or succession thereof) could smash you. Apparently, riding on the trails at night is also openly discouraged by various officials (community and trail-related) and could leave you the victim of a violent crime, obviously, as well.

I was thinking neighborhoods in Vienna (and the sidewalks of the commercial area) would be ok as long as I rode slowly and cautiously (again, with the lights and all) but was advised in a PM that this wouldn't be wise. Any second opinions?
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Old 05-25-2009, 08:42 PM
 
427 posts, read 973,846 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alicia Bradley View Post
I come from a place where I could happily ride my bike in the evening (with good head- and tail lights, of course) and was wondering if this is possible anywhere in NoVA. The situation seems to be the following - if you're "in" close enough that there are sidewalks/places to go to, it's so dense that a car may smash you if you have to leave the sidewalk temporarily. If you're "out" too far at all, there cease to be sidewalks and, again, a speeding car (or succession thereof) could smash you. Apparently, riding on the trails at night is also openly discouraged by various officials (community and trail-related) and could leave you the victim of a violent crime, obviously, as well.

I was thinking neighborhoods in Vienna (and the sidewalks of the commercial area) would be ok as long as I rode slowly and cautiously (again, with the lights and all) but was advised in a PM that this wouldn't be wise. Any second opinions?
I think it depends on both where you are and how you ride. If you ride smart and predictably, then you should be fine. And you already know that you should use head- and tail-lights, which is good. I'd think Vienna would be a fine place to ride in the evenings, although I have to agree that the W&OD is probably not a place to ride alone after dark -- it's pretty isolated and gets little, if any, use at night.

As to the PM you received, bear in mind that different people have different comfort levels regarding commuting by bicycle. If you're comfortable being a part of traffic, and you ride intelligently and defensively, then you should have no problem biking in the evenings in Vienna. But that's just my opinion; others obviously may be uncomfortable with it.

If you'd like to talk with people who actually do bike after dark in that area, then stop by Spokes in Vienna and ask some of their salespeople about it. I know at least a couple of them bike in every day, and it's already dark when they close up shop and head back home. They'll probably have some good tips for you.
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Old 05-25-2009, 09:07 PM
 
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If you're doing it for exercise, it's not worth it. You have to assume that people can't see you and take extra precautions to stop more frequently. you'll get more exercise if you can keep constantly peddling on a bike trail during daylight hours, such as between Maple Ave and Hunter Mill Road nonstop or between Maple Ave and Leesburg Pike in the other direction.
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Old 05-26-2009, 04:39 AM
 
2,462 posts, read 8,045,591 times
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It's not worth it. I've almost hit cyclists whom I simply could not see until the last minute. And YOU won't be able to see potholes and other hazards on the road. Sidewalks in a commercial area -- nope. Cars are pulling in and out of shopping centers, and they're NOT looking for cyclists at night. People are walking on sidewalks, talking on their phones, and NOT looking for cyclists.
Don't do it.
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Old 05-26-2009, 04:51 AM
 
Location: Fairfax County
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I wouldn't ride at night in Vienna. If you were in Arlington (where there are many bike paths), it might be a different story. But not in Vienna.
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Old 05-26-2009, 04:59 AM
 
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They gave a guy "reckless driving" on a bicycle in Arlington last year(or 07).
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Old 05-26-2009, 08:24 AM
 
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Originally Posted by claremarie View Post
Sidewalks in a commercial area -- nope. Cars are pulling in and out of shopping centers, and they're NOT looking for cyclists at night. People are walking on sidewalks, talking on their phones, and NOT looking for cyclists.
Don't do it.
That's an excellent point. Sidewalks are never a place for cyclists, day or night, for exactly the reasons claremarie gave. That's as true in neighborhoods as it is in town. Sidewalks are for pedestrians. Cyclists are vehicles, and as such should be on the road (riding appropriately there, of course).
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Old 05-26-2009, 10:06 AM
 
Location: South South Jersey
1,652 posts, read 3,402,977 times
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I don't ride my bike like it's a vehicle - I ride it like I'm walking; very slowly and carefully. And, just for the record, cyclists are treated *as pedestrians* (not as vehicles - i.e., they have the right-of-way) at the intersections along the W&OD trail.
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Old 05-26-2009, 10:09 AM
 
427 posts, read 973,846 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alicia Bradley View Post
I don't ride my bike like it's a vehicle - I ride it like I'm walking; very slowly and carefully.
Just walk, then. If you bike as though you're walking, then you'd probably be more comfortable getting around as a pedestrian in the evenings, and Vienna's a pretty friendly place for that.

It's true that cyclists don't have the right-of-way on the W&OD at intersections with roads that carry vehicular traffic, but you were asking about biking in places where you'd be part of (or at least right next to) vehicular traffic. Unless you really were thinking about biking on the W&OD at night. Don't do that.

You should check out the Area Biking pages on the WABA (Washington Area Bicyclist Association) website, at www.waba.org. There are some great tips there for getting around by bike in this area.

If you're really more comfortable biking on sidewalks, then you just are, but do be extra-careful about not getting hit by a car when you're doing it. Drivers scan roadways for oncoming traffic (including cyclists), but they don't typically scan as far up the sidewalk, since they're just looking for foot traffic there. Also, be sure that sidewalk cycling is legal wherever you're riding. I think it's legal in Vienna, but I know it's not in Alexandria.

Last edited by themommy; 05-26-2009 at 10:22 AM..
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Old 05-26-2009, 10:20 AM
 
Location: South South Jersey
1,652 posts, read 3,402,977 times
Reputation: 734
Ok, I'll avoid anything resembling commercial on the bike once twilight hits. But it really blows my mind that I'm hearing it's impossible to ride one's bike in a residential area of Vienna after dark (with the requisite lights, of course). *cue 'Welcome to the Jungle'*
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