The test ride of Part I of my bike commute went so well on Sunday, I decided to go ahead with this whole crazy idea and test out the entire route today.
I really enjoyed Part I yet again (twice) today. It's level, safe, somewhat quiet and relatively well paved. I always expected Part II to be the challenging section, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Crossing the Yellowhead freeway was actual easy, as the sidewalk under the overpass is extra wide (so I didn't feel guilty using it) and then I just walked my bike through the intersection at the lights. From there it's a half block sidewalk ride to a bike path which leads to 101 St. I can ride on 101 St from the Yellowhead all the way to 118 Ave no problem: it's a quiet residential street.
My first challenge was crossing 118Ave. I could (and did) just go to the 97 St. lights, and then use an alley back to 101 St, or I could (and did on the way back) use the pedestrian crossing across the busy traffic circle. Edmonton only has two traffic circles (and one has lights) so it's not really our drivers' forte. I don't think this will be a major problem though, because I'm not riding during rush hour.
From 118 Ave to 111 Ave, my options are to continue down 101 St, which becomes a slightly busier residential street, or take the alleys down 98 St. Taking the alleys is like offroading, but it's super quiet with no traffic, whereas 101 St is nicely paved, but busy. Plus the sidewalks are small, so I have to ride on the road. I'm not above using sidewalks when I fear for my safety (screw the $50 fine if caught) or when they're a designated dual path, but even I have some standards. I think I'll be ok on the road once I gain a bit more confidence though.
From 111 Ave to 104 Ave presents my final challenge. This is the Chinatown I was initially quite worried about, but it also wasn't as bad as I thought. I can ride the entire way down to 105 Ave on 98 St, which is super quiet. The only problems are crossing 107A Ave and 106 Ave because they are quite busy. I could go 1 block east or west to cross at lights or a crosswalk, but as I'm not cycling during rush hour, I think just waiting a few minutes for a clear path will be alright. Oh, and the last couple blocks between 107-105 Ave are very poorly paved and lined with, shall we say, 'colourful locals'. If you're from Edmonton, you'll know what I mean (if not, consider that 106/105 Ave consists of a few homeless shelters and soup kitchens). From 105 Ave, it's just a short sidewalk ride under another overpass, and...ta da...the court house appears.
It took me about an hour, and really wasn't that difficult a ride. I think Part II will get better once I've done it a few times, as the problems are quite minimal. The good thing is I quite enjoyed the ride. I'm really excited to try it out for real on Thursday, if it doesn't rain...