Exercise by biking to shops

Running errands on your bicycle is a great way to burn calories and get some exercise. When you need something small or you are just checking prices and availability, pedaling to the store can be a pleasant experience if you can find a bicycle-friendly route.

Several major shopping locations in the Rogue Valley can be accessed by bicycles without encountering excessive traffic. For example, both the Rogue Valley Mall and the Medford Shopping Center are easily accessible from the Bear Creek Greenway bicycle path.

It is somewhat more difficult to ride a bike to the big-box stores along Highway 62 (Crater Lake Highway). At these stores, the parking lots are full of cars, but I seldom see a bicycle. I have found three bicycle-friendly routes that will get you to the area of Costco, Lowes and Office Depot without having to negotiate through a lot of traffic.

1. From east Medford: get on Springbrook Road, which has bike lanes along most of its length, and head north. Turn left on Delta Waters, which also has bike lanes. Head west, crossing Crater Lake Highway at the traffic lights. Don't dally crossing at these lights as they don't stay green very long. Delta Waters turns into Lear Way which will take you to all the big-box stores.

2. From Poplar Drive, anywhere north of McAndrews Road: Poplar Drive has bike lanes. Head north and cross Highway 62 at the traffic signals. These lights also change quickly from a bicyclist's perspective. After crossing Highway 62, Poplar becomes Bullock Road. Look to your right for a paved bike lane, just before Elite Motorsports on the right. If you pass Lithia Body and Paint and the batting cages on the left, you have gone too far. Turn right on the paved Medco Haul Road bike path. It climbs a short hill and then proceeds along the edge of the airport for 1.3 miles. Turn right on Commerce Drive and right on Lear Way, which passes behind Costco and the other stores.

3. From the Bear Creek Greenway: travel northward. Be cautious riding on the Greenway bike path as it has unmarked bumps and cracks hiding in the shadows which could dislodge you from your bike if you hit them unexpectedly.

From where the bike path goes under McAndrews Road, it's about 1.3 miles to where you turn right onto the path that leaves the Greenway to get to Hilton Court. Look for a green sign on the greenway that says "Biddle Road" with a picture of a bicycle. Upon entering Hilton Court, cross the street to get into the eastbound turn lane.

Turn left at the traffic light at the intersection with Biddle Road (which has bike lanes). Then turn right into the Bureau of Land Management entrance and follow their access road until you reach Bullock Road. Take a right on Bullock and proceed about four-tenths of a mile. (If you miss the BLM turn, go to the next traffic signal and turn right on Lawndale Road, then right onto Bullock Road.) Be alert on Bullock Road as there are no shoulders, vehicles seem to travel fast and drivers are often reluctant to share the road.

Before approaching the raised median divider on Bullock (as you approach Lithia Body and Paint), cross the oncoming traffic lane and get on the sidewalk in front of Elite Motorsports. Proceed about 50 yards and turn left onto the Medco Haul Road bike path. From here follow directions as described for route 2.

Either of these routes provides bicycle-friendly access to a lot of shopping opportunities. Be careful in the big parking lots as drivers are not used to seeing bicycles. Stay in the traffic routes and don't cut through the parking areas.

Take a good lock to secure your bike while you do your shopping.

Carry a small backpack, pull a trailer or have some method of carrying your goods that leaves your hands free to steer your bike.

Enjoy your shopping; I hope that using your bicycle is less stressful than you anticipate. Have a great ride.

Bicycling enthusiast Bob Korfhage of Phoenix is a former president of Siskiyou Velo bicycle club.

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