This week’s Q&A pays homage to Raleigh’s ever growing use and enjoyment of bicycles for alternative transportation, exercise, or a personal hiatus from the pressures of the modern world. When you’re perched above two wheels and coasting through the crisp fall air, what path, official or unofficial, do you find yourself drawn to? Some of our writers answer below. Tell us yours in the comments.
I bike to work many, if not most, days. I ride a fixed-gear bike (no off-roading for me) and most of my rides are within downtown. Therefore, my favorite bike path isn’t one particular line, but rather the trips to and from work and wherever I may stray along that.
In particular, I find a couple of streets and areas within downtown to be particularly enjoyable to ride. The Warehouse District is always a fun place to bike around because of its large parking lots, usually empty streets, and many alleyways and nooks where cars won’t fit but bikes will. Since Fayetteville Street has reopened to traffic it is a very nice night ride, although the plaza construction currently hinders the full experience.
I have biked around much of the inner beltway, but with a single-speed or fixed-gear bike downtown is definitely the most fun… and safe. Adios, los coches!
I usually ride my bike to work everyday, so when I ride around for fun, it’s pretty low key. My favorite path is something I call the “Oakwood Weave” because I wind through Oakwood admiring the fall foliage, houses, and emerging Christmas decorations. I start by going south down Bloodworth from where it begins on Sasser, and ride that till it hits Edenton, turn around and head north on East Street, and then meander the east to west side streets like Lane, Oakwood and Polk. Eventually, I cut down Boundary/Brookside, which loops me back around to Glascock and takes me home. It’s a very pleasant ride with not too many hills (but just enough to make you feel like you’re getting some exercise), little car traffic, and plenty of scenery.
One of the most varied and interesting greenway routes begins at the corner of Hillsborough and Gorman at Meredith College and takes you through the North Carolina Art Museum Campus (the largest art museum campus in the entire country), then over to William B. Umstead State Park.
The paved path first curves along the fringe of the Meredith Campus and down through a tunnel under Wade Avenue. Upon emerging from the tunnel, you’ll climb a hill up onto the Reedy Creek Greenway Pedestrian Bridge spanning over the Beltline. The other side winds and descends into the museum trail system, where you’ll find indigenous plants labeled and explained nature-walk style. Take another sharp incline, then steer back down to emerge at the art-park area of the museum grounds, where you can catch a glimpse of the Art as Shelter Pavilion before following a path down to the Cloud Chamber. Pass Thomas Sayre’s earth-cast rings, look down onto Barbara Kruger’s PICTURE THIS, and circle around the amphitheatre to get a look at the construction site for the museum’s expansion. From there, cross Blue Ridge Road and connect to Umstead’s countless miles of bicycle and hiking trails.
To get to the Caraleigh Mills neighborhood on the south side I go “Down the Rabbit Hole.” Starting at Morgan and Mayo, I bike around the backside of Burger Hut, turn onto Hargett and kick it up the hill past the ever-in-process Bloomsbury. Next I turn down Boylan and shimmer over the bridge and cruise downhill to Dix campus. Here I get on the scenic stretch of greenway that runs through Dix campus, and head east. It’s a nice stretch to ride along in the summer. After crossing over South Saunders I’m back on the greenway, riding through the woods towards the ominous tunnel that goes under Dawson. You won’t see any joggers on this stretch. The caged lights in the tunnel are usually off at night, so I always just hope there isn’t a sleeping body I could run over. One time I heard a nighttime human grunting within the woods. From the end of the tunnel it’s through more woods and I’m on my way to chickens, vegetables and merrymaking.