For the last several weeks I have been doing twice-weekly physical therapy sessions to re-acquaint my left foot with my left calf muscle after a traumatic communication disruption in December.

Accelerated Physical Therapy is on Neil just south of Kirby and I live in West Urbana. My preferred cycling route to get across town on the south side is to use St. Mary's Road. But when I am hurried or don't want to pedal my 70-lb. Xtracycle up the nearly hors-catégorie climb on St. Mary's Road by the round barns, the easiest and quickest way is to use Florida/Lincoln Avenue.

Although the stretch between Lincoln and Neil is one of the busier roads in town (12,800 to 16,600 vehicles/day), it turns out to be amazingly calm in mid to late morning. To document this, I clamped my GoPro video cam to the back of my bike for my round trip this morning and did a minimal edit to speed it up to 8x normal speed. If you want to take a look, see:

I continue to be amazed at how easy and comfortable it is to use arterials like Florida/Kirby in C-U for cycling--streets I would have avoided as little as two years ago. There are two things that make it surprisingly easy and comfortable: (1) the amount of room that motorists give you if you control the lane by driving your bike in or near the center of the lane, and (2) how little traffic there is between the groups ("platoons") of motor vehicles that are formed by the traffic signals.

Even during periods of heavier traffic, the platooning effect of traffic signals still provides frequent periods of low traffic and there are ways to handle the platoons if you do get caught up in one (as taught in the CyclingSavvy traffic cycling course). To see a (normal speed) video cycling C-U's busiest street (University Avenue) during rush hour (and in the dark and rain),
check out

While I realize that most cyclists will prefer quieter streets for cycling in C-U (and fortunately, we have lots of those), being able to confidently cycle arterials can be very useful when it is the only way to connect two quieter routes or when your trip origin or destination is located on a busy street. And one advantage of cycling arterials while obeying the rules of the road is demonstrating that cyclists are a normal part of traffic and have the right to safely use all non-freeway public roadways. And you don't have to be either "strong" or "fearless" to do this--just savvy!

-- Gary

P.S. If you don't have the confidence to control the lane while cycling on multi-lane arterials, it is probably best that you avoid them. Cycling close to the curb will invite in-lane passing which is dangerous. And moving just a bit left into the right tire track can result in even closer passes and be discourteous as it may appear to motorists far behind that there is room for an in-lane pass and then when they get close they realize there is not (see article and graph).

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