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Old 09-23-06, 03:58 PM   #1
sbhikes
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How would you deal with this scenario

I was hiking today and while we were enjoying our lunch I could see the freeway at Gaviota Pass. We were sitting on rocks overlooking the two rest areas right before Gaviota tunnel. I saw a group of cyclists come down the freeway, take a break at the rest stop, then continue on through the tunnel.

It made me wonder, first of all, how they had the courage to do this because there's pretty much no shoulder in the tunnel and motorists are blinded when they get into it. But it also made me wonder how does one ride a bike through the tunnel? It would be nice to do a ride up the coast, but that tunnel and the Arroyo Quemada bridge scare the bejesus out of me.

Anybody done the Gaviota Tunnel or something similar (two lanes, freeway, 65 mph, tunnel is on a curve going up hill, it is dark in the tunnel but there are dim lights inside, the tunnel is only maybe 200 yards long, no shoulder inside, no sidewalk as far as I know, one-way traffic)? How would you do it?
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Old 09-23-06, 04:05 PM   #2
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"When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." -- Sherlock Holmes.

You ride in the lane. You go as fast as you can, you try to be as conspicuous as possible, and you repeat to yourself that rear end fatal collisions are incredibly rare for cyclists. You position yourself far enough to the left that there is no doubt among overtaking motorists that you wish that they change lanes to pass you.

I don't find conditions like this particularly pleasant.
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Old 09-23-06, 04:09 PM   #3
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Sounds like a job for the Nova Indirectly visible around corners thanks to the tunnel walls, with a strobe signature that says POLICE. All the same, I'd be keeping a careful eye on my mirror in case things went wrong.

I'd probably use either Deciblast or triple-plus-burst mode here. Oh, and if I knew I was taking a route that included this tunnel, I'd throw on two or three of my SuperFlashes as secondaries. Usually I'd just have one along.

Key idea here: use visibility to put overtaking traffic on guard from long range, so I don't create a chain-reaction pile-up due to the lead car having to slow down suddenly.


hey, you did ask how *I'd* deal with it...

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Old 09-23-06, 04:19 PM   #4
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(silly non-practical what-if idea deleted )

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Old 09-23-06, 04:52 PM   #5
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I am certainly no expert at tunnels. But partially it would depend on how long the tunnel was and how much traffic the road gets. If I HAD to, I would take the lane, pedal my arse off and pray like hell.

If I didn't HAVE to, I would look for an alternate route.

-D
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Old 09-23-06, 05:11 PM   #6
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Oh, and the other thing I'd do, is to stay near the wall as I approached the end of the tunnel. From an overtaking perspective, my lights would contrast much more with the dark wall than with the daylit tunnel opening.

My Nova says "hi," by the way...
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Old 09-23-06, 05:26 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mechBgon
Oh, and the other thing I'd do, is to stay near the wall as I approached the end of the tunnel. From an overtaking perspective, my lights would contrast much more with the dark wall than with the daylit tunnel opening.

My Nova says "hi," by the way...

Holy (*&(^ I gotta get me one of those (or 2)

-D
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Old 09-23-06, 05:29 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by derath
Holy (*&(^ I gotta get me one of those (or 2)

-D
thread with pics of mounting holes & stuff It's a terror! It runs about 10 hours strobing on a little 9.6-volt RC-car rechargeable battery I got from Radio Shack.

Oh, and that's a frame from this video clip that was primarily about the SuperFlash versus the NiteRider blinkie, but I threw the Nova in at the end: http://freepages.thesecretlabs.com/~...SuperFlash.wmv (right-click & save, then view)

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Old 09-23-06, 05:52 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by DCCommuter
"When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." -- Sherlock Holmes.

You ride in the lane. You go as fast as you can, you try to be as conspicuous as possible, and you repeat to yourself that rear end fatal collisions are incredibly rare for cyclists. You position yourself far enough to the left that there is no doubt among overtaking motorists that you wish that they change lanes to pass you.

I don't find conditions like this particularly pleasant.
+1

If there are occasional gaps in traffic and you can see, I'd wait for a gap. You ought to be able to go 200 yards in less than 20 seconds, maybe 13.
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Old 09-23-06, 06:12 PM   #10
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Incidentally, there are some good pics on this page: http://www.silcom.com/~pordecon/gaviota_accident.htm Here's one of the interior of the tunnel, and another showing the entrance (featuring a sign saying to share the road with bicycles).



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Old 09-23-06, 06:57 PM   #11
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That is one scary scenario, Diane! I am unfamiliar with the area, but I assume from your post that there is no reasonable alternate route.
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Old 09-23-06, 07:22 PM   #12
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I was looking for an alternative route from my promontory over the freeway. The only thing you could possibly do is cross the freeway at Gaviota State Beach, ride the access road to the creek, then pick up your bicycle and hoof it up the creek. Not sure if I have that kind of strength as the creek is choked with brush and poison oak and you'd definitely get your feet wet.

There's always the trail. You could turn off at Gaviota State Beach and hoof it up the trail and over to the other side where there is a fire road. That would take you a few miles of trail out of your way.

Nope, there is no alternative route that is paved.

Those pictures make it look like there is some room in that tunnel in the right edge. There is NO way I would take the lane. As you can see by the picture the tunnel isn't straight. I have driven through it and you are temporarily blind inside. The Nova is a good idea.

I also thought you could position one cyclist at the mouth of the tunnel with a walkie-talkie and a sign that warns people there are bikes in the tunnel (one local bike group puts similar signs on the freeway on their group rides to the south) and then he'd be the only one who had to risk his life. Or else have a car that followed you with its hazard lights on.

Maybe it's not so bad if they all did it.
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Old 09-23-06, 07:25 PM   #13
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One other idea: drop a lighted flare (the kind that burns for 15 minutes) at the entrance to get people to drop speed and be alert. Far-fetched, but whatever
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Old 09-23-06, 08:51 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sbhikes
There is NO way I would take the lane. As you can see by the picture the tunnel isn't straight. I have driven through it and you are temporarily blind inside.
It's kind of hard to get an accurate picture unless you've been there. It does not look inviting.

On the plus side there is a bicycle warning sign (as if that helps!). Also there is a curve before the tunnel. That *generally* slows traffic. A lot of people will slow slightly going into tunnels - because they are dark and narrow. And narrowing of lanes tend to have the effect of raising attention and slowing motorists. It is also 2 lanes going the same direction. Still, not where I'd like to hang out.

My guess is that your strategy would be to avoid this section of road, which would appear to be an excellent decision.

So, back at you - If you had to go through it how would you do it and how would you think it would be safer than waiting on a gap and blasting through in the lane?

Also, I was wondering if you experience even subtle differences in your attitude (passive vs. aggressive) when are on a bent vs. standard bike?
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Old 09-23-06, 09:02 PM   #15
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Get a rear blinking light, get some partners, take the lane and pedal like hell.
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Old 09-23-06, 11:45 PM   #16
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That's where 101 curves inland after hugging the coast west of Santa Barbara. The pictures are pretty representative. The tunnel is for northbound traffic only. There is no alternate route. I've only cycled that section southbound so have never been through the tunnel.

Is the Arroyo Quemada bridge the shoulderless one on 101 half way between Santa Barbara and Gaviota? I did cross a shoulderless bridge when riding southbound. With that bridge, the sight lines are much better, so you can wait for a big gap in traffic.
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Old 09-24-06, 10:45 AM   #17
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This tunnel needs the kind of facility that some tunnels on 101 in Oregon have. Cyclist pushes a button, and when the flashing yellow lights start blinking, they enter the tunnel and take the lane. There are big signs outside the tunnel saying that when the lights are blinking, there are cyclists in the tunnel, slow down, yield to them, exercise caution, etc. There's either some sensor that shuts off the lights when the cyclist leaves the tunnel, or it's on a timer. Motorists seem to respect it.
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Old 09-24-06, 10:59 AM   #18
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1. Position the riders with taillights at the back of the pack.
2. Wait for a break in traffic, and haul a$$ through the tunnel - have the riders at the back make contact with the first approaching car before entering the tunnel - if you move quickly enough, that car will stay behind you for the duration of the tunnel and will effectively shield you from cars further back.
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Old 09-24-06, 11:07 AM   #19
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I gotta ask.
Are there likely to be any bears,lions, tigers or cheetas in this tunnel?
Cause that could really change the way I would approach this tunnel.

If there are no bears,lions tigers or cheetas I would probably chicken out aand find another route,
If there are bears, lions , tigers and or cheetas, I aint going in there, what do you think I am an Idiot
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Old 09-24-06, 11:53 AM   #20
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Well, there are mountain lions in the surrounding area, but my guess is they stay out of the tunnel.

I like the idea of the yellow warning lights. That would be a great idea.

And yes, the Arroyo Quemada bridge is the one you experienced, Brian. It's between Gaviota and Refugio on the Southbound side of 101. We drove through it yesterday and despite about 4 No Passing on Bridge signs the person in front of us passed someone on the bridge. But at least you could wait for a gap in traffic. I don't know if you can determine with much certainty if there's a gap in the traffic before the tunnel.
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Old 09-24-06, 12:16 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R-Wells
I gotta ask.
Are there likely to be any bears,lions, tigers or cheetas in this tunnel?
Cause that could really change the way I would approach this tunnel.

If there are no bears,lions tigers or cheetas I would probably chicken out aand find another route,
If there are bears, lions , tigers and or cheetas, I aint going in there, what do you think I am an Idiot
If there's cheetahs in the tunnel, I'm going to have to go check it out
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Old 09-24-06, 07:32 PM   #22
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I would do it ONLY if I had a Nova Bull as others have (gotta get me one), or my amber strobe. I bought two strobes last time I ordered and I've considered hooking both of them up.

Has anyone tried running the Nova Bull on an overvolted electrical system? My system runs up to 16.8V when fully charged, and I'd hate to pay $60 for a Bull and fry it. Can someone who has one check the specs?
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Old 09-24-06, 08:42 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donnamb
This tunnel needs the kind of facility that some tunnels on 101 in Oregon have. Cyclist pushes a button, and when the flashing yellow lights start blinking, they enter the tunnel and take the lane. There are big signs outside the tunnel saying that when the lights are blinking, there are cyclists in the tunnel, slow down, yield to them, exercise caution, etc. There's either some sensor that shuts off the lights when the cyclist leaves the tunnel, or it's on a timer. Motorists seem to respect it.
The downside of the pushbutton concept is that if the cyclist doesn't push the button, or the button/light is defective, or the timer runs out, then drivers may assume that "all is clear".
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Old 09-24-06, 08:52 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sbhikes
I don't know if you can determine with much certainty if there's a gap in the traffic before the tunnel.
Here's a link to the tunnel on Google maps:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=e...05203&t=k&om=1

The approach to the tunnel does curve to the left a bit, but I think there's enough of a straightaway to look for a gap before merging into the lane - in part because traffic is going to be a little slower up the hill. But I think another bike warning sign is needed further before the curve. Also, another one on the left side of the road would be useful, in case a big truck blocks the view of the one on the right.
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Old 09-24-06, 09:07 PM   #25
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I would do it ONLY if I had a Nova Bull as others have (gotta get me one), or my amber strobe. I bought two strobes last time I ordered and I've considered hooking both of them up.

Has anyone tried running the Nova Bull on an overvolted electrical system? My system runs up to 16.8V when fully charged, and I'd hate to pay $60 for a Bull and fry it. Can someone who has one check the specs?
The specs say max of 16 volts: http://www.strobe.com/products.asp?i...specifications Maybe you could throw in a resistor to drop the voltage just a little bit without wasting too much power.
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