Thursday, August 11, 2011

Riding to Dulles Airport

Yes, it is possible to ride to Dulles Airport. A while back I inquired about riding there and was told by an airport official that there is a service road that employees use that connects to Rt 606/Old Ox Rd north of the airport. Yesterday I returned from a trip to Jacksonville and decided to finally check out the route.

I own a Bike Friday New World Tourist folding bike that packs into a suitcase. After assembling the bike, attaching the trailer frame and putting my other pack into the suitcase, I was ready to roll. From the arrivals level I rode around Saarinen Circle to Copilot Way. I missed the right turn to reach Airport Dr so I continued straight to Cargo Dr turned right and then left on Airport Dr.

I left the airport at 4:45pm which must have been a shift change because there was lots of traffic on Airport Dr. I continued north to almost the end of Airport Dr where I turned right on Materials Rd then left on Ariane Way where traffic got even heavier. There's a climb to cross the bridge over the Dulles Greenway, then the road descends to 606/Old Ox Rd where I turned right. This is a busy commuter road but I had no problems riding the short distance to take a left on Pacific Blvd.

I headed north on Pacific to reach Sterling Blvd as it is the shortest route to the W&OD Trail. Sterling Blvd is also a busy commuter route. I then turned right on the W&OD Trail and headed to Reston. On the way I saw the Reston Bike Club group headed west on their Wednesday Social Ride.

I live near South Lakes HS in Reston and the trip took about an hour, which was probably shorter than taking the bus and much cheaper than the $25 taxi ride. There were some major, congested roads on the route, so experience riding under those conditions is recommended. It will certainly do the trip again in the future as it's much easier to get to the airport by bike than I had thought.

I was returning from a trip to Jacksonville to visit my mother, who lives in Atlantic Beach, about 25 miles away. From the airport there's a decent bike route to Atlantic Beach that makes use of the Mayport Ferry to cross the St. Johns River. There can be heavy traffic on the weekends and one of the roads, Heckscher Dr, has been under construction for several years, but when finished it will also have bike lanes. It's a great way to avoid renting a car, taking a taxi, or avoiding an excruciatingly long bus ride with multiple transfers.

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Thanks for this info. I want to bicycle to my job at Dulles airport from my home in Leesburg, but Old Ox and Sterling Boulevard seem awfully dangerous to me.
I've heard there are around 10,000 people who work at Dulles Airport and the surrounding facilities. It's unfortunate that VDOT and Loudoun Co have designed the roads leading to the airport without any accommodations for bicyclists. An experienced rider should be able to navigate the roads entering from the north but they are not bike-friendly. Why not write to VDOT and request that they provide safe bicycle accommodations?
I gave it a go this Saturday afternoon - and took the same roads outlined in your post.

I found Ox/Sterling Bld a bit harrowing.

On this ride: I got honked at twice, had two cars blow past me by inches and had one guy slow down to yell at me. All of this was on the brief section Ox on the way back.

It's not my first time experiencing these kinds of behaviours - it happens, no? Also, I used take 123 into Tyson's on occasion.So, I don't believe I'm extremely timid, but I guess it's outside of my comfort-zone right now.

Ox has a pretty ample shoulder for much of that stretch - shouldn't be a big deal to add a wee bit more asphalt.

my $0.02
I Bruce, I saw your response to the First comment. If you approved it, I am the same person who tried out the route today and was appalled by Ox/Sterling Blvd. I submitted my feedback to VDOT as you suggested:
Hi, just wanted to thank you for this. I'll be trying IAD - Arlington in a few weeks, and it'll be my first experience cycling in America. Fingers crossed...

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