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Old 08-22-05, 10:48 AM   #1
richardmasoner
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cycling on the Interstate

Cowtown Confidential
Cyclists’ way is the highway in Colorado
Hearne Christopher Jr. Email: hearne@kcstar.com

Excerpts from the Kansas City Star {Registration required**

If you think helmet-less motorcyclists are bozos, get a load of this from my just-completed Arizona driving getaway.

While cruising back up through Colorado Springs on Interstate 25, I could have sworn I saw a giant sign with the outline of a bicycle on it. As in watch out for bicycles on the interstate.

Watch out, indeed.

With even tons of nighttime traffic, beaucoup road construction and a 75 mph speed limit, it seemed like a recipe for disaster. Must be me. Then I saw another sign and another.

“The big bike sign means they’re allowed,” says CDOT honcho Russ Bircher. “Like a deer crossing, the deer symbol.”

Colorado’s reason for letting bikes loose on the Big I: “It’s a Colorado law we have,” Bircher says. “It’s pretty dangerous. … But you know, we’ve got a lot of people who are bike-riding happy around here.”

Meanwhile, back in Kansas, where interstate speeds top out at a measly 70 mph and you have to even slow down for construction, inquiring minds want to know: Can we ride our bikes on the interstate here?

“No, right now bicycles are not allowed on the interstate,” says KDOT honcho Jerry Younger.

Kansas’ reason for keeping pedaling Jayhawks off its I-ways: “Obviously, we have some concerns about the safety issue of slow speed vehicles on the highway,” Younger says.

I see, it’s a roadkill thing.

So what it would take to get Younger and Bircher to go for a lazy cycle ride down I-70 or I-25?

“It would take a lot,” Younger says. “Because I’m not sure I’d ever feel safe on the interstate on a bicycle.”

“If I had to do that, I’d put it in my truck and haul it,” Bircher says. “I don’t know why anybody would want to ride a bike on the interstate. But you know, whatever.”
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Old 08-22-05, 11:08 AM   #2
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Biking on the controlled-access highways, including the Interstate System, might be safer in some cases. There is usually a wide, 12 foot, shoulder, with no traffic.

Since the cars are moving so fast, the drivers don't have any time to hassle you. If you can learn how to cross the on and off ramps, it's no problem, especially if you need to get somewhere fast.

I use a rear view mirror and foam earplugs.
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Old 08-22-05, 12:44 PM   #3
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On and off ramps would be my primary concern. I'd imagine though that some of these interstates are sparsely traveled, so it could be done.
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Old 08-22-05, 01:08 PM   #4
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I've read stories in the past about people who did bike rides coast to coast across the United States. If I'm not mistaken, part of the route at least some people use has to include the Interstate in some western states (in places where it was legal) because there are no practical alternative routes. As I understand it, interstates are supposed to be a redundant way to get from one point to another, but that isn't always the case.
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Old 08-22-05, 01:33 PM   #5
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Man I-25 is brutal. Between Denver and the Springs it goes to 10,000 ft or maybe a bit higher, I forget. I can see cyclists maybe building a hard-dirt road alongside, that could be cool after gas goes to $5 a gallon and people realize the ride won't kill 'em and is fun.
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Old 08-22-05, 01:49 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phillydcbiker
On and off ramps would be my primary concern. I'd imagine though that some of these interstates are sparsely traveled, so it could be done.
Use a rear view mirror. You are looking for gaps between the cars either coming off or coming on. Just keep going straight as much as you can. Sometimes you might have to make a very short dog leg. With a helmet-mounted rear view mirror, it's a cinch.
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Old 08-22-05, 01:53 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richardmasoner
Cowtown Confidential
Cyclists’ way is the highway in Colorado
Hearne Christopher Jr. Email: hearne@kcstar.com
Meanwhile, back in Kansas, where interstate speeds top out at a measly 70 mph and you have to even slow down for construction, inquiring minds want to know: Can we ride our bikes on the interstate here?

“No, right now bicycles are not allowed on the interstate,” says KDOT honcho Jerry Younger.

Kansas’ reason for keeping pedaling Jayhawks off its I-ways: “Obviously, we have some concerns about the safety issue of slow speed vehicles on the highway,” Younger says.
From my search of Kansas State Laws, there are no such prohibitions. http://www.kslegislature.org/legsrv-...do?number=2027

Last edited by barenakedbiker; 08-22-05 at 05:07 PM.
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Old 08-22-05, 02:37 PM   #8
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i wouldn't recommend I-25. I-76 however from denver to nebraska is quite sparse and has bike signs every few miles from what i remember last
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Old 08-22-05, 04:21 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by jamesdenver
i wouldn't recommend I-25. I-76 however from denver to nebraska is quite sparse and has bike signs every few miles from what i remember last
It's a bit tough to get to New Mexico via I-76 if that's the way you want to go, though.

RFM
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Old 08-22-05, 06:42 PM   #10
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on Guadeloupe, they have a lane for cyclists on the motorway/highway/interstate, separated from motorised traffic by a 3 foot tall (or so) concrete divider. it's nice.
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Old 08-22-05, 07:17 PM   #11
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Ok I'm not sure how your Interstates are out there in the Mid-West but here around here, It seems dangerous in my car. During rush hour it's not uncommon to see a car running off onto the shoulder to avoid the car in front becuase they were following too close and couldn't stop with out hitting them. And wrecks are all too common.

There is no way you will find me anywhere near a road like that on my bicycle.
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Old 08-22-05, 10:45 PM   #12
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Legal in most places in Oregon, except within the City of Portland and a short stretch of road in Medford, down south.
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Old 08-23-05, 07:36 AM   #13
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Also legal in South Dakota to ride on the Interstate
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Old 08-23-05, 04:46 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lilHinault
Man I-25 is brutal. Between Denver and the Springs it goes to 10,000 ft or maybe a bit higher, I forget. I can see cyclists maybe building a hard-dirt road alongside, that could be cool after gas goes to $5 a gallon and people realize the ride won't kill 'em and is fun.
You are thinking of I-70 which runs east-west over the Rockies. I-25 runs north-south between the Rockies and the east range. I-25 is fairly flat.
If you are worried about crossing off-on ramps, then just take the off ramp, cross the probably low traveled road and re-enter the interstate on the on ramp. Pretty easy.
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Old 08-23-05, 04:59 PM   #15
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With the wide shoulders, Interstates in the west are pretty easy to travel on. Besides they don’t always have fast traffic.

While in Nebraska, the pre-game show from Lincoln came on for the Cornhusker football game. During the pre-show they cutaway to traffic a couple of times on I-80 heading to Lincoln. The freeway was backed up, moving at about 10 mph. During one of these cutaways, they showed a cyclist passing all the red cars and trucks on the interstate. The sportscasters then blamed the cyclist for the traffic slowdown, by clamming that the cyclist had caused all the football fans to rubberneck.
But wait I was sure I saw the cyclist passing everyone else, so who was slowing who down?
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Old 08-23-05, 08:26 PM   #16
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In San Diego, bicyclists are permitted to ride the I-5 shoulder between Roselle St. and Genesee. The shoulder is wide and well-maintained, and since we enter at one ramp and exit at the next, we don't have to contend with onramp merges and offramp diverges. (Sorry, bnb, I would not describe high-speed, heavily-traveled free merges and diverges as "a cinch." We just lost a 29-year-old Marine captain this morning on Kearny Villa Road, at the [freeway] 163 offramp.)
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Old 08-24-05, 02:13 PM   #17
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In Washington State, it would be complete suicide to ride on the highway most of the time, though during rush hour you'd be moving faster than most of the cars around you. Still, even if it were legal here, there isn't enough money in the world to get me biking on the highway. I have no desire to die right now.
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Old 08-24-05, 02:24 PM   #18
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Here in AZ it is often the only or sometimes the safest way to get from place to place, with the alterative, if there is one, being a high speed windy mountain road with narrow lanes and no shoulder at all.

Its really not bad at all. You get very good separation from traffic and cars don't swerve wildly or turn like on city streets. I actually find it much more relaxing riding along the wide shoulder of a busily traveled 75mph posted interstate than on the 45mph posted city multilane arterial roads where cars pass at 50mph often with less than 3ft clearance.

Also note as to freeway exits, they can sometime be 30-40mi apart, more typically 5-10, but with such rarity they are easy to cross and when they are spaced in the many dozens of miles apart areas one usually finds oneself exiting anyway for a little break.

Best arguement (aside from neccessity) is the data on injury and death. From what I understand a much lower rate per freeway mile than city for cyclists. (Sure this is swayed as more so the experienced tend to ride freeways and kids ride in cities.)

Great little map of AZ roads/freeways with codes for density and shoulder width as provided by ADOT:
http://www.azbikeped.org/images/map-side-1.pdf

Al

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Old 08-24-05, 03:25 PM   #19
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I posted on this thread Monday and by coincidence I see this guy riding across the 14th street bridge on my way home. That's I-395 leaving DC into Virginia across the Potomac. Though it is an Interstate, I think it is posted at 40 mph at that point with all the exits and entrances on both sides of the river around that point. But this was after rush hour and traffic was flowing at its normal speed of 55-60. Also there is virtually no shoulder on the bridge. Maybe 3-4 feet between the lane and the wall barrier. There is a bike-pedestrian path along this bridge completely separated from the freeway traffic by that wall/barrier. But he was moving pretty fast and I guess he didn't want to be slowed by the rest of us.
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Old 08-29-05, 07:50 PM   #20
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A study was done for California:

http://transweb.sjsu.edu/publications/BikesAndPeds.htm
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Old 08-30-05, 12:14 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simplebiker
I've read stories in the past about people who did bike rides coast to coast across the United States. If I'm not mistaken, part of the route at least some people use has to include the Interstate in some western states (in places where it was legal) because there are no practical alternative routes. As I understand it, interstates are supposed to be a redundant way to get from one point to another, but that isn't always the case.
I've gone from San Diego to Ft Worth Texas using the Interstate when no other means existed. Certain areas just east of the mountains in Southern California are only served by Limited Access Freeway, as are certain areas of Arizona along the 8-10 Freeway route.

You wanna go... you have to take the freeway.

The wide shoulders and limited access made it safe, albeit noisey. Ear plugs sound like a great idea. But oddly it was quiet enough to hear birds. I remember hearing this strange squeaking and thinking the BB was about to fail, only later to discover it was some bird that just sounded like that that nested in roadside brush.
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Old 08-30-05, 12:24 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John E
In San Diego, bicyclists are permitted to ride the I-5 shoulder between Roselle St. and Genesee. The shoulder is wide and well-maintained, and since we enter at one ramp and exit at the next, we don't have to contend with onramp merges and offramp diverges....
Uh, unless you want to make a permitted left turn at the top of that hill going from Roselle St. to Genesee on the south bound side. You very much have to contend with "freeway speed traffic," while you move laterally across the lane, at your speed of 10-12MPH, in front of them.

You signal for a long long time, until someone slows down for you and acts as your barrier... then you check twice and pull quickly across. I never go when it is "clear," as that could be the moment the "too fast car" comes flying onto the off ramp. I always wait for someone to slow down and act as a barrier.

If the traffic never yielded, I would go to the right lane at the top and pedistrian it from one corner to the other. I have never had to do that.
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Old 08-30-05, 01:16 AM   #23
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I do feel the need to speak up for the weeds alongside I-25. They're wonderful and aromatic. Get out of your car sometime along the side of I-25 and tromp through the weeds, they'll reward you with the most wonderful smells!
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Old 08-30-05, 01:55 AM   #24
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Try riding across Wyoming.
Nothing but 2 highways running east/west for large sections...
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