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  1. #1
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    Tips for crossing the Interstate

    Hi all,

    I'm looking to start bicycle commuting, and I am wondering if the fine people here have any advice to give on staying safe while crossing an Interstate bridge.

    So, some details, I live on the south side of the interstate, and work on the north side. It's about a 4-5mile ride each way, so a rather good distance in my opinion. Unfortunately, the only way to get from south to north is by way of two bridges, both of which have no pedestrian access, speed limits of 45mph, and highway on-ramps. Here's a Google Map overview of what I'm talking about, Barrington Rd. and Roselle Rd. are the two bridges in question:
    https://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=B...&z=14&lci=bike

    Coming home is less of an issue, I can take the bicycle path that runs parallel to the Interstate on the North side, and then cross via the Roselle bridge; I can ride on the far right side of the road without worry of cars exiting or merging.

    Going to work, however, presents more of a headache, as both Roselle and Barrington have an on-ramp in their far-right northbound lane. I know cyclists have rights, but let's face it, I'll be dealing with commuters before their coffee kicks in.

    The other option is to bike further east to Mecham Rd., which does have pedestrian access, but doubles the length of the trip, which I'd prefer to avoid, but might have to do for the sake of safety.

    So, any thoughts?

  2. #2
    Bicycle Commuter Bluish Green's Avatar
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    I have driven through both of those interchanges, but not bicycled or walked them. Is there a sidewalk on the west side of the Roselle Road bridge? If so, could you cross Roselle somewhere south of I-90, then walk it north across the bridge? Just a thought.... That Tollway is a major physical barrier....

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    There is a sidewalk on the west side of the Roselle Bridge, and approaching it from the south is easy, but the trees/brush on the north and west side of Roselle are overgrown to where a person can barely fit between the guard rail and the trees, let alone a person walking a bike! I've tried contacting the county to see if they'll trim it back, no luck so far.

  4. #4
    Bicycle Commuter Bluish Green's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SiDZ View Post
    There is a sidewalk on the west side of the Roselle Bridge, and approaching it from the south is easy, but the trees/brush on the north and west side of Roselle are overgrown to where a person can barely fit between the guard rail and the trees, let alone a person walking a bike! I've tried contacting the county to see if they'll trim it back, no luck so far.
    Unless you have a better option, that sidewalk might be your safest crossing. In a addition to the county, you might try IDOT, because I believe Roselle Rd is a state route. Contacting the Illinois Tollway couldn't hurt either, they are customer-focused and might help you out if you can put the request in terms of safety near Tollway property. I hope one of those agencies can help you out. In the meantime, if you think it will work, you can give it a try, maybe on a Sunday or non-work day, just to see what it looks like. Take a digital camera and snap shots of the vegetation if you think that could help make a case for tree-trimming. City of Schaumburg might be willing to help out, too. Good luck, I hope it works out. 4-5 miles is a great commute distance (mine is 6), and traffic up there Sucks, so bicycling is doubly great....

  5. #5
    apocryphal sobriquet J.C. Koto's Avatar
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    Is the sidewalk, in its current state, an impenetrable barrier to anyone in a wheelchair?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.C. Koto View Post
    Is the sidewalk, in its current state, an impenetrable barrier to anyone in a wheelchair?
    Very much so, yes. The sidewalk only exists over the bridge. You have to hop over a curb to approach it from the south, and there is approx 1/4 mile of unpaved and uneven ground between the northern tip of the sidewalk, and the next closest sidewalk portion.

  7. #7
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    any underpass points?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluish Green View Post
    I have driven through both of those interchanges, but not bicycled or walked them. Is there a sidewalk on the west side of the Roselle Road bridge? If so, could you cross Roselle somewhere south of I-90, then walk it north across the bridge? Just a thought.... That Tollway is a major physical barrier....
    For quite awhile, the only bridge between Manhattan and Brooklyn in NYC that had bicycle access was the Williamsburg. The famous bike/ped MUP deck of the Brooklyn Bridge had not yet been built. In my youthful ignorance back in the 70's I attempted to cross the Manhattan Bridge in the right hand lane. The drivers were going bonkers but more problematic, the expansion joints in the roadway were six inches wide. I never made it across. Somehow I got my bike off the roadway and inched back on a maintenance deck and attempted no further crossings of the East River until the Brooklyn Bridge pedestrian walkway was constructed.

    My point. The o.p.'s route maybe unridable. We don't know. But somebody does. Were it me I would be checking with my LBS as to what people do to cross those bridges if they are crossable. Bikeforums is great but sometimes you need local information and your LBS or a local bike club newsletter or website is the source for information that is needed. Good luck.

    H

  9. #9
    Senior Member AusTexMurf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    any underpass points?
    That's what I was thinking.....I do that often......

    Look for a creek, drainage, low spot........under......

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    I definitely agree to check with the local bike clubs and shops for advice.

    I personally (not giving advice) would try it though. Totally take the lane. The heavier the traffic the better IMO. If you can get a few cars behind you as a buffer from fast moving traffic you should be good.

    Nobody in a car is going to like it much but IMO you have every right to use a lane of that road to travel on your bike.


    Edit: A rear view mirror comes in handy in spots like this. I prefer the one you clip onto a hat or helmet. Also if you haven't already you may want to consider taking a bike safety class. League of American Bicyclists runs a good one. They teach bike handling skills to handle all kinds of situations like this.
    Last edited by jerseyJim; 05-23-13 at 11:34 AM.

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    Doesn't look too bad to me. Definitely ride in the center of the far right lane. Be prepared for people right-hooking you as they pass you just to get on the on-ramp, and watch out for people coming off the exit ramp who might not notice you.

    With three lanes in each direction, they should have no problems moving into the passing lane to get around you. Just be confident and ignore any honks.

    Once you get over the bridge, you get a nice shoulder again.


    The other bridge has traffic lights at the ramps, so you shouldn't need to worry about people pulling out in front of you.

    edit: Ah, misunderstood the map. I'd definitely use the bridge labeled "I-90E". Traffic lights at the ramps make things a lot easier for you.

  12. #12
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    Had a look at the streetview images. 2 lanes going one direction and 3 in the other. You could take the lane if needed while crossing the bridge. The shoulder is moderate and you have a wide enough sidewalk, but getting to that isn't a clear shot, and that is the dangerous part, IMO. Looks like in at least one spot there is no rideable shoulder for a few yards.

    I would wait for a gap in traffic on the approach to the bridge, then do a "hold & release" as you cross. You probably will get some angry drivers honking at you when you slow them down by a few seconds.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jerseyJim View Post
    I definitely agree to check with the local bike clubs and shops for advice.

    I personally (not giving advice) would try it though. Totally take the lane. The heavier the traffic the better IMO. If you can get a few cars behind you as a buffer from fast moving traffic you should be good.

    Nobody in a car is going to like it much but IMO you have every right to use a lane of that road to travel on your bike.


    Edit: A rear view mirror comes in handy in spots like this. I prefer the one you clip onto a hat or helmet. Also if you haven't already you may want to consider taking a bike safety class. League of American Bicyclists runs a good one. They teach bike handling skills to handle all kinds of situations like this.
    See, that's the Jersey 'tude in you talking. People have the right to pierce their noses and dye their hair pink, but would you do it and go to a biker bar? I've looked at the Google route. Interstate has a very specific meaning in America and I was very confused as to why people were advising the o.p. to get out there on what should be a limited access roadway. But it's not. Its a highway. Nevertheless, there is probably a way to ride it without ******* off every driver in the vicinity. A commute means you are doing it a number of times per week. Maybe it's me, but for all my seeming orneriness I have little desire to rankle others. Goodwill on the part of drivers is a good thing to promote. Do not take the lane, do not do anything that isn't accepted as a best practice in the motor vehicle code. It couldn't be the worst thing to go around the trouble spot. How much mileage does it add? I didn't measure it but I can't see it adding more than a 1/2 mile, maybe 1 mile. More exercise. But if I were there, I will put down money that says I could navigate that route in a way that was safe and efficient and didn't annoy motor traffic. Its 2013, bikes are more accepted everywhere and if they aren't. If OTHER cyclists are avoiding that interchange like the plague... then its a sure sign that the o.p. should also avoid it and seek an alternate. I don't like doing that, but neither am I an idiot. Do what is safe, do what is being done by the majority. Call it good.

    H

  14. #14
    Keepin it Wheel RubeRad's Avatar
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    Looked at the map a bit; Northbound on Barrington is the question?

    Worst case you can wait for the light at Hassell to create a traffic break for you (which may mean you wait around some days for a whole cycle of the stoplight)

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    To answer some of the questions:

    No underpasses that I'm aware of, and certainly none that are accessible by bicycle, not many waterways in the area.

    The safe route adds 5 miles to the trip, so a 10 mile ride each way for me. It's not terrible, and I'd certainly go that route if no other options were available, but I'd like to avoid it too.

    North on either bridge while waiting for the lights to cycle is probably the best option, likely Barrington as it tends to have less traffic. The light is usually long enough that I can get from the light past the off-ramp, and I do see occasional bicycle traffic over that bridge.

    Good thought on asking the LBS though; they're right next to the Roselle bridge, and so might be familiar with the issue. I'll stop in tonight, and see about the bicycle safety classes as well.

    Thanks all for the advice!

  16. #16
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    Also contact the city, and let them know that the sidewalk is unusable because of vegetation. Tell them that you would hate to see someone hurt because they were forced into the road. Get the name of the person you talked to. Calls like this scare them when you express safety concerns, and take their name.. Ask them to spell it for you.

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    Senior Member tergal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SiDZ View Post
    To answer some of the questions:

    No underpasses that I'm aware of, and certainly none that are accessible by bicycle, not many waterways in the area.

    The safe route adds 5 miles to the trip, so a 10 mile ride each way for me. It's not terrible, and I'd certainly go that route if no other options were available, but I'd like to avoid it too.

    Thanks all for the advice!

    I would take the Long way there, and the short way home ( you said it was ok home right ?) . Face it after you have been doing it for 6 months you will want the long way anyway ... just to get more time on the bike
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    it's a kill zone. the shoulder isn't too bad but the on/off ramps will get you.
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

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    I personally would take Roselle Road going north. Reason being that you have shorter right turn lanes to deal with. As you approach the interchange, you're in the right hand lane. When the right turn lanes appear, you stay in that same lane so that the right turn lanes are on your right. If you're not in the center of the lane, be just right of center. Don't be hugging the line to your right. Wear BRIGHT BRIGHT BRIGHT clothing or vest, with bright flashing lights. The brighter the clothing and the farther out in the lane you are, the sooner motorists can see you and either change lanes to pass, or slow down so they can get in the right lane to get on the interstate.

    The other ramps in that area should be easy with the lights. I don't think I would want to do Barrington at all.

    *edit* I guess Barrington might be better if it has less traffic as you said. But then again, if you catch the red light, the distance from the red light to the first ramp is much shorter on Roselle than it is on Barrington, so in theory traffic should be going slower on Roselle as you pass the right turn lanes and ramps.
    Last edited by PatrickGSR94; 05-28-13 at 12:37 PM.
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  20. #20
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    Other than the good tips given above, you might also consider probing out potential routes on the weekend, when it is not mandatory to intersect specific coordinates in time and space at the end of your ride.
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  21. #21
    Senior Member CJ C's Avatar
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    many shun this in the cycling community but I will roll on a sidewalk at any point where I don't feel safe. Grab some clippers and go over to that sidewalk on the weekend and trim the bush. I have trimmed many trees on my route that over grow and push me into a traffic area. I have drive those streets and know that people will just be evil or wont even notice, if you do use that route take the lane and deal with the mean words and honks.

    Do understand to go slow on the walk and give peds the right of way even if it means stopping.

    and really once you have done a few commutes and the weather gets smooth, you WILL take the long way on purpose.

  22. #22
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    Hi all,

    Thanks for all the advice. I ended up crossing at the Roselle bridge, and using the stoplights to time my trip. The light at the south end of the Roselle bridge turns red for long enough that I can make it past the right-turn-lane without having to worry about cars, and from there on the shoulder is wide enough for me to ride inside. After the bridge, it's actually a rather smooth trip.

  23. #23
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    Can you shift your work hours to a time when the traffic is less? Long shot, I know, but it can help with traffic.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by krome View Post
    Can you shift your work hours to a time when the traffic is less? Long shot, I know, but it can help with traffic.
    Yes, to an extent. Thankfully my office is very relaxed when it comes to arrival/departure time, so if I show up at 10AM and leave at 7PM, they don't mind. However, that's just enough shift to be riding when there aren't many cars around.

  25. #25
    Senior Member joyota's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by krome View Post
    Can you shift your work hours to a time when the traffic is less? Long shot, I know, but it can help with traffic.
    This is what I've been doing only I shifted my ride to be earlier. I have two options for going over I-94 that don't add a lot of miles to my commute. I work at 7:30am so I'm leaving my house at 6am, crossing the freeway at around 6:15am. There's very few people on the road that time and so far I've yet to have a problem staying in the right lane. I'm sure I'll get my fair share of honks and yelling in time, but I'm also lucky to live in a relatively bike-friendly town and most people (not everyone) respect that around here. Glad to hear you've figured out a good method for timing the lights, good luck and stay visible=safe!
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