Avoiding big cities?

Discussion in 'Americas' started by El Guero, Nov 16, 2007.

  1. El Guero

    El Guero Long timer

    Joined:
    May 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    9,605
    Location:
    Iowa
    I'm looking at getting in a lot of good riding in riding this spring, so I've been playing around with Google maps a lot. Since I don't like riding the interstate on the KLR, I usually plan trips around highways and parks where I can camp for free/cheap. And I was struck a little by the fact that I was avoiding the big cities...

    Are big cities a bad place to take a motorcycle on a budget? I feel like I'd be afraid for my bike (even if it is a KLR :lol3) and affordable lodging would be difficult to come across. I just look at the map and think about how I've never even seen the Atlantic or been to New York or blah blah blah, but I don't want to go to any of the big cities. Anybody else like this? Do I worry too much?
    #1
  2. kevrider

    kevrider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2007
    Oddometer:
    304
    Location:
    reno
    a guy from Nebraska avoiding big cities... imagine that! :wink::wink:

    not that it matters what the rest of us do, but... unless the city is the destination, why would you go there? do you enjoy traffic jams? do you seek multi-vehicle accidents? do you enjoy being lost? do you like sitting at stoplights under the noonday sun with temperatures ten degrees above the surrounding countryside? well, maybe in winter....

    you probably don't have to worry about your bike (dude, it's a KLR!) but in the Big City, if you pitch your tent in the park, you might wake up in the back of a squad car. cheap lodging is on the couch, so unless you have a reservation on one, what's the point?

    i would like to visit Chicago one day (and everyone should visit NYC), but if it ever happens, i'll probably arrive on one of them fancy aeroplanes. on the bike trip that could have taken me thru Chitown, i decided to take a detour thru Canada. :thumb

    exceptions to the rule are to visit friends. otherwise, i bypass.
    #2
  3. Ladybug

    Ladybug Bug Sister Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2005
    Oddometer:
    17,884
    Location:
    Spokane Valley, WA (the dry side of the mountains)
    I don't like cities and do all I can to avoid them. I have visited the Atlantic, NY (but not the city), and a lot of Blah, Blah, Blah across the United States. I plan my routes to avoid the cities and have seen some of the most spectacular places imaginable just because I take "the road less traveled".

    I did have desire to see Washington DC but no desire to ride in the city. I found a campground a couple miles from the end of the track for the train into the city (in Virginia). For four days I would ride my bike to the train station leave my bike there and take the train right to where I wanted to go. Motorcycle parking was free and they were placed next to the guard shack so they had security all day.

    No need to go to cities, there are plenty of roads to get around them. Get yourself some good maps, mapquest will route you on the busy/fast roads, paper maps you'll be able to find other options.

    Enjoy!!
    #3
  4. rocker59

    rocker59 diplomatico di moto

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2004
    Oddometer:
    16,529
    Location:
    In Yonder Hills
    I've ridden to Chicago as a destination.

    I had a fenced backyard to park my bike in and a friend with a spare bedroom in her "Two Flat"...

    We rode all around downtown Chicago and down Lakeshore. It was pretty fun, but my arrival in Friday afternoon rush hour during a severe thunderstorm was the "real adventure"...

    If I don't know someone and have a safe place to keep the bike, I avoid big cities when travelling...
    #4
  5. rocker59

    rocker59 diplomatico di moto

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2004
    Oddometer:
    16,529
    Location:
    In Yonder Hills
    You don't have to go to a big city to see the Atlantic. Go North of the Megalopolis to Connecticutt, Rhode Island, or Maine... Or South to the Carolinas or Georgia...

    I spent a week last year at Jekyll Island, Georgia. I had my Guzzi Quota with me and had a blast. Took a daytrip to Savannah. It was great!
    #5
  6. nytrashman

    nytrashman old and in the way

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2007
    Oddometer:
    627
    Location:
    westchester co. NY
    if/when your in NY let me know. you can leave your bike in my garage and take a train into the city. i think that would be much safer then riding into NYC.
    #6
  7. Exurban

    Exurban Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,082
    Location:
    Wilmington, DE
    No big deal riding in the city. Just be cautious of strangers in the suburbs who offer to watch your bike for you. :evil
    #7
  8. ezrydr

    ezrydr Dead Man Riding

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    590
    Location:
    East Of The Sun & West Of Fort Smith
    To some degree it depends on the city; there's a lot of variation. San Francisco isn't too bad. (Except during rush hours, and ANY city is to stay away from during rush hours.) Savannah is kind of neat, or used to be - haven't been there in years - and Winnipeg is OK during the warmer months. Santa Fe is fun if you don't mind touristy hokum, and Salt Lake City I never had any trouble at all.

    On the other hand Dallas is the bottomless pits of Hell, as is Houston. Chicago has freeways laid out by madmen and some of the worst drivers in the country. And LA and surroundings, don't get me started.

    The nature of the problem depends partly on whether you're talking about just getting across the city as quickly and efficiently as possible - sometimes that's the only alternative to a long detour - or actually getting down and riding around the place. There are cities where the freeways are terrible but you're reasonably OK on the streets, and others where the freeways are OK but large areas have dangerous levels of crime and violence.

    That's another thing - if you don't know your way around the place, you could find yourself in some very hairy situations. Tulsa for example: some parts of town are quiet and peaceful, but other areas even make the cops nervous.

    And things do change. New Orleans used to be fun, but I don't imagine it's a lot of laughs now.

    As for New York City, I've ridden there a few times - including downtown Manhattan traffic - and it's an experience I don't recommend. In particular the Brooklyn Bridge will get your attention: open steel mesh all the way across, it can get very squirrely depending on the bike and tires.

    In general I try to avoid cities unless I've got some good reason for going there. But of course sometimes that's the whole point of the trip.
    #8
  9. kadesean

    kadesean eyesuck Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,071
    Location:
    Muskegon, Michigan
    And on my recent trip down to the Natchez Trace Parkway I hit a nice hour long traffic/weather/fuckme delay in Terre Haute, IN. So much for avoiding those big cities.:rofl
    #9
  10. DirtyHarry

    DirtyHarry n00b

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3
    I agree, think that San Francisco is one of the Exceptions.
    Plan your route carefully and stay away from the area South to SF.

    Aso the big trucks won't bather you riding down, on the other end the driver can not try to avoid an accident with a truck of 60 MTons below his but.

    Camping in the USA is the ultimate life.
    Last holiday 2007 of 9 weeks we had only one motel booking.
    #10
  11. Drifter

    Drifter Staying the Course

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2005
    Oddometer:
    21,654
    Location:
    East of the Sun & West of the Moon
    <TABLE id=HB_Mail_Container height="100%" cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="100%" border=0 UNSELECTABLE="on"><TBODY><TR height="100%" width="100%" UNSELECTABLE="on"><TD id=HB_Focus_Element vAlign=top width="100%" background="" height=250 UNSELECTABLE="off">From Lincoln Nebraska, shoot due south to Dodge City on US 50. 50 will take you to either coast and the few big cties along the way can be easily circumvented e.g. freaking St. Louis.

    When you get to the east coast, you can stay off the interstates and take sate highways up PA to upstate NY and then up to Highway 2 through New Hampshire, Vermont and over to Maine and then ride down the Atlantic seaboard on highway 1. It's a great ride. St. Louis was a nightmare -- so go around on the smaller highways. It's easy to do. BTW, 50 is a great route. Very stress-free and scenic.


    Good Luck.

    Oh . . . and don't talk to strangers.

    </TD></TR><TR UNSELECTABLE="on" hb_tag="1"><TD style="FONT-SIZE: 1pt" height=1 UNSELECTABLE="on">

    </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
    #11
  12. justJeff

    justJeff Banned

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,666
    Location:
    Eastern Washington
    I know that for me, if I feel like venturing into a big city, having a good GPS makes it much more comfortable. On my way to Baja last year I wanted to check out downtown San Francisco. As it turns out, once downtown, the signage to point you back out of town wasn't that great. If I hadn't had a GPS to steer me through the maze of streets it wouldn't have been as easy.

    Most of the time though, I agree with the majority of other posters, unless the big city is itself a destination, I try to avoid them. One thing I really like about my 376C is having the audio. Even though the screen changes and makes it pretty obvious that a change is coming up, having the voice tell me to take a left, and then stay in the left lane, or prepare for an immediate turn or something is nice. In busy city traffic, in a strange town, it's comforting to have the audio as opposed to having to divert attention away from riding the bike. I never go anywhere without good paper map backups though, just in case.
    #12
  13. GrayWolf

    GrayWolf Lupine Rider

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2005
    Oddometer:
    343
    Location:
    Near Napa CA
    What is going on here. How is avoiding a city any different then avoiding a freshly graded gravel road? The point is the adventure right?

    Seriously there is no point to avoiding anything or we would not term ourselves adventure riders. I have never felt in more danger because I was in a city or a bad neighborhood. Have you seen how some of those kids in pickup trucks drive? Or seen that group of kids shooting .22's beside the road? Now staying overnight in a city is a different topic but not by much. I mean if you are willing to pay to stay downtown in any major city the parking is going to be provided and secure. If you hit the suburbs you are probably safer then in any state park with free camping. If you feel unsafe keep going.

    RIDE EVERYWHERE!

    -GW
    #13
  14. garandman

    garandman Wandering Minstrel

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2007
    Oddometer:
    7,922
    Location:
    Dorchester, MA / Sunapee, NH
    Because of the thousands of good looking women there. I love riding in NH and VT and central and western MA and CT. But there are times when I take my bike down Newbury Street in Boston: the scenery is impressive.

    Boston (which isn't that big of a city - it's about the size of Portland, Oklahoma City, Nashville, Louisville, etc) has a lot of interesting stuff to see: all the Revolutionary War stuff, Boston Harbor, the USS Constitution, etc. NYC, being nearly 20 times larger, has a lot more to see.

    Boston drivers, absolutely brutal to each other, seem to treat out-of-towners with more courtesy. So, if you want to visit cities, visit them. Other than rush hour, traffic is often no big deal. Riding around on a bike is fun. A good GPS makes it a lot more fun.

    And lots of people here seem to have made connections to stay in such places.
    #14
  15. rocker59

    rocker59 diplomatico di moto

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2004
    Oddometer:
    16,529
    Location:
    In Yonder Hills
    US-50 ain't too bad.

    If you're going to the East Coast, just be sure and get off it before entering Metro D.C. at Fairfax, Virginia !!!
    #15
  16. El Guero

    El Guero Long timer

    Joined:
    May 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    9,605
    Location:
    Iowa
    Haha lost track of this one, glad I came to look for it again, lots of good advice here.

    RE: feeling unsafe/uncomfortable in bigger places...
    It's not so much that I feel uncomfortable in bigger places, it's just that the threat of something happening is just always in the back of my mind. It really just depends on the location too. I'm up for about anything, I just don't want to be the rube that wanders into St. Louis looking for urban adventure and gets his bike jacked in the night.

    Kind of similar story... I was riding to Mississippi this summer and stopped for lunch in Pine Bluff. Not a real big place, but the feel of the place and the cop cars that were constantly on patrol made me grow eyes in the back of my head. That and not remembering how to understand Southern was a problem :lol3
    #16
  17. Klay

    Klay dreaming adventurer Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Oddometer:
    122,810
    Location:
    right here on my thermarest
    I was always uncomfortable with the idea of riding through cities as I planned trips over the years. What I found out was that I was more uncomfortable with the idea than the actual act. I've ridden through most of the cities in the US now, and it just isn't a big deal anymore. What I do is plan such that I don't have to spend the night there, unless I'm willing to stay at a nice hotel. Life is just easier out in the country and in the small towns.

    I have an aversion to the idea of riding in the cities, but it just evaporates when I get there.
    #17
  18. El Guero

    El Guero Long timer

    Joined:
    May 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    9,605
    Location:
    Iowa
    That is true, I planned a trip around avoiding Kansas City but drove my dumbass right up into it anyways. Not the worst thing in the world. If my bike was faster on the interstate I wouldn't have any issues with it at all :lol3
    #18
  19. Rottweiler

    Rottweiler I'm a Believer

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2006
    Oddometer:
    365
    Location:
    Heber Springs, Arkansas, USA
    The thing is, with urban sprawl (speaking of the US) trying to avoid the cities can often mean a detour of a hundred miles on roads that are all going in the wrong direction (most roads head into the city, not around it. "All roads lead to Rome.")

    No problem if you're just killin time, but if you're on a schedule it's better to just plough on through on the freeway. Best to not exit at all if you can avoid it - the on-ramps into and off the access roads can be a bangup derby and the cages have way too much to keep track of to notice one little motorcycle.
    #19