Wednesday, March 26

Bike Routes in Portsmouth? (Part 3)

This is a continuation of Bike Routes in Portsmouth? (Part 2)

I turned around and made my way back to the front entrance of the Tradeport, where Pease Boulevard becomes Gosling Road. This is the road that goes to the movie theater, and behind that, The Mall. Where Pease becomes Gosling, like seven lanes of traffic exit and enter on to the Spaulding Turnpike.

I had to make a quick left a few hundred feet after this crazy intersection. At the traffic light where two lanes were turning left on to the Spaulding, I had to pull up right in the middle of like four or five lanes. Mind you, this was at about 6 o'clock on the day before a holiday weekend, at the intersection of The Mall, a major business area, an airport, and a major highway.

As I pulled up between the cars, I looked around. I figured I'd probably get some strange looks from the drivers around me. I mean, I have the right to be there, but even I agree that it wasn't a very good place to ride a bike. But no, I wasn't getting any funny looks. It wasn't the non-looking of acceptance, though. They just weren't looking at all. These people don't give a damn about some guy on a bike. They figured if anyone was on a bike out here, well, they better know how to hold their own, because they were not going to get any cooperation from the motorists.

Fortunately, I know how.

The light turned green, and I sprinted off the line like a track star. I slid in behind the first car off the line as it passed me, taking the lane, and deftly dived in to the left turn towards the movie theater, and the relative safety of The Mall's conservative speed limits. I biked around the area for a bit, looking for an auspicious entrance to the mall, and a good place to lock up.

I bought some crap-I-don't-need at The Mall, just a couple things that could fit in my messenger bag. After that, I saddled up, navigated the crazy traffic back to Pease, and took the bike lanes back to downtown Portsmouth, and home. Another successful exploration--Mission Accomplished!

Conclusions about The Mall

While I did in fact find a veritable northwest passage to The Mall--a backhanded shortcut through Pease--I'd have to say that The Mall is a stupid place to go anyway. Aside from the traffic density and that The Mall is mostly full of crap-you-don't-need, there is a distinct difference in mood of the other people on the road.

In Portsmouth, when I pull up to a stop sign, people will very often wave me through, even if they got there first. People are usually really friendly in town. Just yesterday I pulled up at a traffic light next to a guy in a pickup, and we chatted it up about biking for a minute till the light changed. Also the speed limit is 15 MPH on most of the main streets, so it's pretty safe.

On the other hand, The Mall Area was awful for traffic. I guess it's because The Mall Area doesn't want cyclists. I mean, think about it. You can't buy very much crap-you-don't-need if you are on a bike--how can I bike while carrying like 5 shopping bags full of beanie babies and singing moose-heads or whatever it is that people buy there? Cyclists are definitely not the target demographic here!

So, yes. I found that there is a bike-friendly shortcut from downtown Portsmouth to vicinity of The Mall, but once you get that far, you're on your own. It is also a very good commuter lane from downtown Portsmouth to Pease Tradeport. And of course I never did take that road through the wildlife refuge.

Ride Debriefing

I like to ride first, then figure out later where I'd gone. As it turns out, the sponsor for the bike lanes, and the bike path and bridge is Seacoast Area Bike Routes (SABR) (There are maps on the site). I sent them an email with my assessment--we'll see what happens.

Upcoming Events

Tomorrow is my first NorEast Team event, a dinner and I-don't-know-what. Expect a full report Friday.

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