A bike ride though Arlington center

Cycling-safety expert John Allen posted this video that he made showing how he rides through Arlington Center, Minuteman segment to Minuteman segment.

John rides, safely and predictably, in traffic. He follows all traffic laws without stunts or daredevilry.

Judging from what I’ve seen, however, many cyclists are uncomfortable with this approach. Some prefer to ride on the sidewalks (which is prohibited) especially in the intersection’s northwest corner, by Uncle Sam park.

This post is a little off-topic for my blog, but (a) not in a chalk versus cheese way and anyway (b) the video is short, fun, and worth a look, especially if you love the Minuteman path.

It is also (c) very much apropos of the Town’s plan to improve mobility in the center.

I ride a lot like John does, when I go this way, though I do not cut through any parking lots. Maybe I should try that. Riding in traffic feels safe and natural once you’ve done it a few times.

The alternative to riding in traffic is to walk your bike when you are on the sidewalks and crosswalks, at least in the business district.

Give it a look and see what you think.

Thanks to John Allen for making this video available for reuse under a Creative Commons license.


5 comments so far

  1. dr2chase on

    I follow pretty much the same route, except that (1) I think he overstates the risk of a right hook at that particular intersection (the cars seem relatively sedate and orderly as they line up for a right, partly because straight and right proceed on different phases) and (2) in the parking lot, at 1:15, if you turn right into the last parking space in that set (it happens to be open) and head for the northwest corner of the space, there is a sufficient pile of dirt and debris to make a ramp that you can use to ride up onto the Minuteman Trail — I did that this morning.

    • Adam Auster on

      It’s an unusual intersection in that right turns have their own dedicated signal.

      That ought to make it extra safe, but in reality drivers regularly run the red turn arrow during the straight-ahead part of the cycle.

      Traffic there is sometimes well-behaved and sometimes not. I would not want to be to the right of that lane on my bike unless I were making a right turn there.

      • dr2chase on

        Oh, no, never to the right of that lane, you can’t trust car drivers that much. But most of them obey the law — I should add, however, that I know the cycles on that light very well, so I position myself *in front of* the right turn lane when I know that they will not be allowed to proceed before I am.

        Also to watch out for is people going straight who begin to move when the left arrow turns green; I’ve seen that, and that is a hazard for cyclists/joggers doing the diagonal cross between the sidewalk corners or embedded between the lanes (again, if cars were reliably law-abiding, this would be perfectly safe).

  2. John S. Allen on

    Thanks for posting this Adam. I’ve now put up a blog post commenting at length on the Arlington Center situation, and recommending off-road as well as on-road solutions.. We need both, to accommodate all categories of cyclists and in particular, because the Minuteman attracts large number of children and novices. WordPress is giving me a hard time and won’t let me post the URL, but if you Google on

    John Allen Arlington right hook

    It will be the top result.

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