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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 03-07-11, 11:28 PM   #1
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How do you deal with highway onramps?

Sorry if this topic has been beaten to death, but i ran a search and couldn't find much.

How do you other folks deal with highway on-ramps? I have to admit, i get pretty intimidated when trying to cross one. Especially when it is a somewhat blind entrance. It seems that the bike lane (if present) always ends just before the on-ramp. This is where motorist start the race to pick up speed. Often, the bike lane picks up immediately after the on-ramp, but rarely seems to have a safely marked crossing. I like the road designs where the bike lane jumps to the left of the on-ramp and is clearly marked. This seems to make the most sense, but is still negated by the drivers who insist upon racing in front of the car in front of them by crossing the lane (so they can get in traffic faster).

I try to be a confident rider, but this is one of those situations where i must value my life over my "rights to the road". What do others think? Have you seen any superior road designs (and if so, please cite)?
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Old 03-07-11, 11:35 PM   #2
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Have to pass one every morning. I always get on the side walk and wait to cross.
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Old 03-08-11, 12:24 AM   #3
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I also normally hop on to the sidewalk to wait things out. No sense in trying to race impatient cars.
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Old 03-08-11, 12:31 AM   #4
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There's a good reason bicycles aren't allowed on many (most) limited access type roadways, and this is it. Off and on rammps for crossing roads are just plain dangerous no matter how savvy and experienced the bicyclist is.

If it's a "diamond" shaped intersection (as contrasted with cloverleaf and similar), I tend to ride off the highway and back on via the off and on ramps. I conisider this safe and don't worry about anything if I can do this. Except the extra riding, (one leg of which is usually uphill), of course.

Highway off and on ramps are, in my opinion, the most dangerous thing you'll encounter on the road. I avoid these routes if at all possible. The ones I have to cross are rural and have no sidewalks and therefore that option is not possible. I just have to try my best to be aware of what's coming behind me and be careful. Both are dangerous, but on ramps are worse because the visibility of the cars you're trying to avoid is much worse.

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Old 03-08-11, 12:35 AM   #5
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Depending on the speed of the road I'm on I'll either take the lane or do as the others have said, hop to the sidewalk, await a big break and sprint.

One onramp I pass frequently has a road speed of around 30 mph. I take the lane on that one.

Another two that I pass are on a road where folks drive 50mph all the time. No actual sidewalk there, I just wait on the shoulder for my big break.
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Old 03-08-11, 12:42 AM   #6
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State and federal highways (which are not interstates) are my experience with on/off ramps; I merely check for oncoming traffic before rolling past the ramp. Maybe it's because the few times I've been on the highway, traffic has been light.
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Old 03-08-11, 03:45 AM   #7
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Sometimes it's safer to by pass those sections by going on the sidewalk. It all depends on the volume and speed of traffic.
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Old 03-08-11, 08:23 AM   #8
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I take the lane until I'm sure no one is gonna sneak up on me... but I've been doing an off-peak commute the last while, so there isn't really enough traffic for most people to get feisty.
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Old 03-08-11, 08:35 AM   #9
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I wait until traffic is clear then I boogie across.
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Old 03-08-11, 08:41 AM   #10
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There aren't any on my commute, but on my other rides I just convert to a pedestrian and walk through a crosswalk, if available, or find other ways to get around them. Since they go to/from highways where bikes are not allowed in NYS there is no point riding them anyway and crossing them is not as safe as crossing regular road since drivers are likely to speed and look out for vehicular traffic rather than bicycles.
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Old 03-08-11, 08:43 AM   #11
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My old commute took me through an interchange. I hated it. The speed limit was 55, and there was no sidewalk.

It was a divided highway, so I even rode on the inside shoulder (next to the median), illegally for a while. It still didn't seem safe. Getting across two lanes of high-speed traffic was just as bad as clearing the ramps, and the inner shoulder was narrower.

In light traffic I would take the lane, but that was rarely the case on my commute (except the odd days I had to go in a 4:00am or stay until 9:00pm).

I eventually just rode the outside shoulder, and stopped and waited for a break in traffic at each ramp. It was kind of a pain, but I've since moved closer to work and don't have to worry about it.
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Old 03-08-11, 09:46 AM   #12
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We got these city street with overpass that crosses over the Freeway. At the top of the overpass, the right lane is where cars just got off the freeway and that same lane is a freeway entrance only lane. Usually they have a very short transition. Cars just getting off the freeway want to get over the next lane so that they don't end back up in the freeway, while city street car heading into the freeway wants to get into that right lane. It is a very bad design and bottle neck everything creating traffic. The last thing on drivers mind is a cyclist.

I say get some good tail and front lights. I almost got flatten out by these driver several times until I increased their awareness with 1 MS tailight, 2 PDW and 1 PBSF. Along with that, I also run over 2000 lumen of front lights. It gets their attention and does slow them down where they stopped cutting in front of me. I strongly recommend good lighting to be seen.

I no longer have this problem since I changed route. In my new route I go under the freeway instead of over it.
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Old 03-08-11, 09:53 AM   #13
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My regular commute has two highway on ramps spaced closely with some traffic lights. There are two 35 mph travel lanes on each side . I take the left lane to avoid being right hooked.
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Old 03-08-11, 10:00 AM   #14
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I either take the left lane or the left most portion of the single lane as I approach and on-ramp, which (mostly) allows impatient motorists to squeeze by on the right to get on the freeway. The off ramp is a bit trickier...but I can usually watch the flow as I approach and take advantage of gaps...herding motorists if necessary since I obviously have the right-of-way.
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Old 03-08-11, 10:04 AM   #15
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I deal with on/off ramps on my daily commute, Central Expressway, here in the bay area. Its a 45 mph area and what I've always done is keep my ground by staying on the lane I'm on. I will slow down if the ramps are pretty heavy to make sure the drivers see me. Additionaly, as Colleen stated, a highly visible flashing light can be very effective.
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Old 03-08-11, 10:09 AM   #16
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Wait for an opening and pedal like hell!
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Old 03-08-11, 11:43 AM   #17
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turn to cross at right angles ,
so you can see the traffic, and the crossing distance is the shortest.
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Old 03-08-11, 12:09 PM   #18
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I choose my route to avoid freeway onramps and exits. People drive way to fast here while they're acclimatizing to a different speed limit. If you want to get nailed by an impatient driver, bike around on and off ramps...

If you can't avoid them, it really depends on the design of the individual interchange. Usually there's a lane for cars who want to go by, but not get on the freeway. I take that lane, if there isn't a better road for me.
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Old 03-08-11, 12:45 PM   #19
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I also try to avoid roads with on ramps, but there are a couple that are unavoidable. The one on the way to work isn't bad because i've got a traffic light that's always red when I get to it, but there's one ramp in Glendale on the way to a bike path I like to ride sometimes, I usually stick to the 'straight' lane and stay in the left tire track until i'm through the sketchy part, that way cars are less likely to pass me and cut me off.. like this.. (see image) It's always a little scary, but it's not really too bad because it's at the bottom of a huge hill so i'm usually going at least 35+mph at that point so I just cruise with the cars.

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Old 03-08-11, 12:48 PM   #20
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For the ones that I ride around routinely, they're the on/off ramps with a triangle divider at the end by the surface street they lead to/from. During busy hours I do the step-by-step approach: Sidewalk, cross at the crosswalk (shortest distance) to the island, wait for the next break in traffic and cross from the island to the curb lane and keep on riding.
If I'm on the interstate and it's busy, I'll usually just go down the ramp a ways until I can cross safely w/o getting creamed, then head back up and continue my journey.
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Old 03-08-11, 01:00 PM   #21
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I have to deal with one although its not to a highway. The speed limit is 45mph on the main road and is supposed to be 30 on the ramp to another road.

Needless to say very few drivers signal they are using the exit ramp or reduce speed once on it. I usually wait for a break to cross and I found a mirror helps immensely negotiating when it is safe.
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Old 03-08-11, 01:13 PM   #22
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I stay in the shoulder before the ramp. If there's merging traffic, I will stop, but this isn't very common. Then I cross the ramp lane in the most direct route possible when the coast is clear. The only place I've ever seen marked bike lanes on the highway (on the Inland Island Highway in BC), this is the approach the lane took. No problems to date, though I must say highway riding isn't a particularly common event for me.
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Old 03-08-11, 02:20 PM   #23
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I avoid roads with highway access like the plague. Especially since the drivers are in a hurry to get to the traffic control light at the end of the ramp. I mean really, why accelerate to highway speed (posted 65, actual is the flow of traffic) just to slam on the brakes for a red light? And they know the lights are on, they have a flashing electronic sign that says meter on....
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Old 03-08-11, 04:23 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by neil View Post
I stay in the shoulder before the ramp. If there's merging traffic, I will stop, but this isn't very common. Then I cross the ramp lane in the most direct route possible when the coast is clear. The only place I've ever seen marked bike lanes on the highway (on the Inland Island Highway in BC), this is the approach the lane took. No problems to date, though I must say highway riding isn't a particularly common event for me.
This is what I do, which I also learned from the bike lane markings in BC. Whether it's an on ramp or an off ramp, I move over as close to where the pavement splits as possible.
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Old 03-08-11, 04:32 PM   #25
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For on ramps, I simply hold my position, make others adjust to get around me.

For off ramps, I move further left in my own lane, look back, and when I see an opening I will move over into the merge lane, then repeat as the lane ends to merge back into my lane. I don't really like doing this, and "on paper" I would hold my position -- but this seems to be less traumatic for everyone involved.
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