Friday, December 21, 2012

Bike commuting across Chain Bridge

Cyclists crossing Chain Bridge in McLean say it’s treacherous with traffic, but they’ll keep pedaling is the title of The State of NoVa's blog post. The FABB treasurer uses this bridge on his commute from Vienna to Bethesda:
Photo: Washington Post
Every morning, Dorien Van Herpen fills two red bags with items she’ll need later at work. She places them behind her seat, then pulls out of the family garage in McLean to begin her commute to Washington. If she hits Chain Bridge at just the right time, she catches the early sun rising over the Potomac River, on her way to the Washington International School. An hour later, husband Willem Janssen will trace the same route over Chain Bridge on his way to the World Bank.

Unlike the continuous mass of drivers inching over Chain Bridge weekday mornings, Van Herpen and Janssen are a commuter cycling couple who navigate their hybrid bicycles to work in all degrees of weather. They are part of the widening stream of cyclists crossing Chain Bridge to workplaces in the District and Maryland...

To access the Capital Crescent Trail from Chain Bridge, cyclists maneuver down a zig-zag ramp to the C&O Canal tow path. If they want to head north, they have to cross Canal Road, without a crosswalk, walk along the edge of the road to a wooded footpath that leads to the Crescent Trail. The other option is to ride the tow path south about a mile to Flecher's Cove, switch onto the Capital Crescent, then reverse direction and ride back north, to access places like Bethesda.

"The C&O between Chain Bridge and Flecher's is the worst part of the entire path," says Laura Tuck, who started cycling to work on G Street with her husband, Jim DeMocker, in September. "Now, there are puddles and stuff, but it's like bone jarring, compared to outside, which is beautiful, they refinished." Tuck says the tow path can give you a headache, until you reach the pavement of the Capital Crescent. "It's just worse than washboard."

"I think more people would do this, if they made that a more hospitable spot," said DeMocker. "Fist-size cobblestone type things, I mean, they just poke up.

Even having to dodge puddles, stones and cars, Tuck says, "It's taken the worst part of our day, which is the commute, and made it just the best part. The sun rises about 7:15 and the steam coming up over the river, and it is just so nice."...

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To be honest, the worst part of that ride (from my perspective, at least) is the intersection at Chain Bridge Rd. Towpath isn't stellar, but it isn't too bad on 32c tires. It's actually better in the dark when you can't see each stone coming.

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