The reduction in traffic and mechanized racket is welcome, but overall it’s not an improvement (and some roads are actually worse with faster vehicles).
I ride weekends and evenings to keep my legs and brain from turning to goo – mostly SW hills. Nice from a cycling perspective, but done daily it’s too much like exercise and not enough of a treat or escape from the realities of utility cycling. Plus, when you’re rec riding during the week, it makes a long weekend ride seem less special.
One thing utility cycling will always have is it’s the best way to get around, and that by itself makes it so rides you’ve done literally thousands of times never get old.
Have always preferred riding solo – that’s what I do over 99% of the time. Riding with one other person can be fun, but riding near strangers with unknown skills/judgment is a recipe for trouble so I avoid doing so whenever possible.