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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
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    Seattle
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    Commuting in Seattle: Late hours

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    How safe would it be for me to ride the Burke Gilman commuting from the U district to downtown in early AM hours, 4-5am-ish? I am getting increasingly frustrated by my 5 mile commute taking one hour (downtown to U district at 5pm) by car and am increasingly angry by the time I arrive at work. However, I'm concerned about my safety by cycling home on the trail that early in the morning. Thoughts?
    2014 Surly Straggler
    2012 Salsa Casseroll - STOLEN

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    WA State
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    I think it would likely be very safe - and probably not as lonely as you might think - there are plenty of other commuters out there, rain and shine and I'd bet some of them have an early day too. Cyclists being mugged or otherwise attacked is a pretty rare event in the first place and I couldn't find any incidents on the Burke specifically.

    The only real problem I can recall on a bike path here was a series of attacks on commuters outside of the I-90 tunnel- the muggers were lying in wait at the end of the tunnel and ambushing cycle commuters and stealing their bags. For a while people started waiting for a group to enter and exit the tunnel and eventually the attacks stopped (one intrepid cyclist even rammed the would be thief). I'm not sure if the thieves were eventually caught or not.
    "Sharing the road means getting along, not getting ahead" - 1994 Washington State Driver's Guide

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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
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    Seattle
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    Thanks so much for your reply, Eden. I'd really like to give it ago but the rational part of me asks, "BUT what IF someone does try something?" Thinking about carrying mace or pepper spray but don't know how useful it'd be. I wish I was a man and wouldn't have to be worried about these things.
    2014 Surly Straggler
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Pacific Northwest
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    VeganBikeChick, could you try it once, with pepper spray at hand, just to see what the traffic on the trail is like? I understand your concerns. I did meet a guy on the Sammamish River Trail a month or so ago who does a super-early morning commute all year round (that includes the BG part you're talking about), and he was telling me about seeing owls often at that time. My point isn't so much the owls--although wouldn't that be great??--but that I think there ARE other early commuters and you might feel safer if you tested out that possibility just once.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    WA State
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    I go through Interlake Park on my evening commute. While it's not particularly late it is dark in the winter and yes - it has run through my mind that if someone wanted to it would be easy to ambush a cyclist in there - it's very dark, even early in the evening and not always so busy if it's cold or wet, but I don't dwell on it - I just stay aware, well lit and keep moving. And yes! I have seen owls (and hear them even more often)
    "Sharing the road means getting along, not getting ahead" - 1994 Washington State Driver's Guide

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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
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    Seattle
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    Thanks again Eden, and Salsa. I might just take salsa's advice and do it once so that I can see for myself if I feel comfortable or not. I don't want fear to stop my ability to commute.
    2014 Surly Straggler
    2012 Salsa Casseroll - STOLEN

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    california
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    1,203
    agree on riding it and seeing for yourself. pepper gel is better in keeping spray from coming back....if you go that way be sure to buy a couple of containers of whatever you get and use one to get really familiar with how it works, how far it goes etc. there is a sketchy area on my ride into downtown la and i just slow down a bit, be very watchful, have my pepper gel in my hand and ride though...haven't had a bad problem yet thankfully....just feeling prepared helps me without really thinking about it now

    martial arts starting in my teenage years has helped me in feeling more confident...even a basic self defense class can help in lessening fears a little or a lot.

    i predict enjoyable commutes in your future
    Last edited by rebeccaC; 07-30-2015 at 08:14 PM.
    ‘The negative feelings we all have can be addictive…just as the positive…it’s up to
    us to decide which ones we want to choose and feed”… Pema Chodron

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
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    You've received some good advice here. I echo the advice to do a practice run once, with the pepper spray. Maybe you can find someone to ride with you once, to test it out?
    I do a lot of rides early in the AM (5-6), and I used to commute at 5:45. While there were never any sketchy areas on my commute, or where I ride now, some of it is a bit country-like. I find myself doing my fitness rides at that time, in the area of the center of town, as opposed to other loops that would be the same distance, but more isolated. I've never had a problem, and am always amazed that no matter how early I am out there (4:45?), I always see other riders. Two days a week there is even a large group ride that follows part of the route I am usually on. They whiz by me, but are always super friendly.
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
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    Seattle
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    Thanks Crankin. I'm going to try it out and report back.
    2014 Surly Straggler
    2012 Salsa Casseroll - STOLEN

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Seattle, WA
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    Recently I rode home at 3:30 AM from seeing a friend (very good friend I hadn't seen for months, was in town for 12 hours, spent most of those 12 with her!) from just north of the U-district to Queen Anne. It was actually amazingly fun, as I was passed by maybe 3-4 cars the entire trip. Most of the time I was the only one on the road. Closest thing I had to a dangerous encounter was two giant raccoons who glared at me while crossing the street.

    By 5AM, that's probably starting to change, but at 4 it's probably similar. Which is to say, unless the Burke is insanely convenient for you, you might find that the roads through the u-district are unusually friendly. I agree with others above that you're likely to be just fine on the BG (weighing the stress the traffic causes you in the car against the possibility of a sketch encounter on the trail, I think you come out ahead on the trail)--but if you're leaving work early enough, roads that would be awful to ride on during the day might be a breeze.
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  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
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    Seattle
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    501
    Thanks khg, taking surface roads may not be so terrible either I'll actually be commuting home from work at 5 am (work nights) from children's to queen anne. I also work some 3p-3a shifts and thought commuting by bike at those hours would be totally unsafe, but your experience makes me think otherwise. Food for thought
    2014 Surly Straggler
    2012 Salsa Casseroll - STOLEN

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    WA State
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    Hey - I work at Children's too, but I live on the back side of Capitol Hill and I only work days (and not full time at that), so we probably rarely even pass in the halls. I find riding late at night around here soothing - so quiet and hardly anyone else out.
    "Sharing the road means getting along, not getting ahead" - 1994 Washington State Driver's Guide

    visit my flickr stream http://flic.kr/ps/MMu5N

  13. #13
    Jolt is offline Dodging the potholes...
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    Keep in mind too that even if you did encounter a creep, they would probably be either on foot or in a car. On a bike, you can move faster than a person on foot and are much more nimble than a car, so you will have an advantage either way in getting out of the situation. Pepper spray, as already mentioned, is never a bad idea (you can get some kind of holster for it, and zip-tie or velcro that around the stack of headset spacers under your handlebars). And, I agree with the person who said you're overall better off bike commuting, despite the odd hours and fewer people around, if your other choice is taking an HOUR to drive 5 miles!! I know what my choice would be...
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  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
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    Seattle
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eden View Post
    Hey - I work at Children's too, but I live on the back side of Capitol Hill and I only work days (and not full time at that), so we probably rarely even pass in the halls. I find riding late at night around here soothing - so quiet and hardly anyone else out.
    That's awesome, Eden! I'm in the ED, thus the "weird hours". I love Childrens, and the commute bonus doesn't hurt
    2014 Surly Straggler
    2012 Salsa Casseroll - STOLEN

 

 

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