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  1. #1
    Yogi on Wheels schiiism's Avatar
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    Safest way to navigate an overpass?

    I have a growing concern about an overpass on my commute. Itís only an issue on my southbound way home due to stop and go traffic. There is a huge construction project ongoing for several bridges along the I5 freeway; alternate routes are even more unsafe than the one I take, so there are no other plausible options.

    Essentially they are widening the bridge, and the crews recently demoíd several key lanes which has caused traffic at rush hour to be very unpredictable on the overpass. There is only one lane each way, and the southbound bike lane ranges from 2-3 feet wide. Itís a steep grade so I donít really have the option of stopping and going with the cars while staying on my bike. The overpass also leads to an onramp, so itís 50/50 whether the cars will keep moving at a green light or if itís stop and go. I have no problem getting over as long as cars are moving, but Iím getting pretty stressed out about what to do when they arenít. For the last few days Iíve been hopping off my bike and jogging through the bike lane; cars make room for me when they see me, but the ones ahead of me are often too far to the right for me to pass them. Obviously this isnít completely safe, but itís better than falling over into the cars trying to keep my balance at such slow speeds.

    Since they demoíd the pedestrian shoulders, there is no legal way to walk it up the bridge. But taking the lane isnít legal if Iím walking my bike either. What is my best option for making it up the grade safely? After this most recent demo, they actually added a huge neon orange "Share the Road" with a bicycle sign at the bottom of the grade, so I know that the city has recognized the cyclist safety issues the demo has created.

  2. #2
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    IDK .. I'm not there.. use your cajones ..


    they are Blasting and Painting the bridge across the Columbia, here , 1 lane traffic and Flaggers ,
    it's actually better than when there was both lanes, on the 2 lane bridge..

  3. #3
    Senior Member Northwestrider's Avatar
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    Not being there, I have no suggestions really. But by your post it sounds as though you are clip less ( balancing at low speeds and falling over ). You may wish to consider temporarily switching to platform pedals ( ahhhgggg ) until the construction is complete.

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    Senior Member andyprough's Avatar
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    Yup, I'd go with platform pedals and take the lane with the slow cars. Hop on the pedals when it's time to go, stand straddling the bike when it's time to stop. Low gears so you don't pop a chain.

    And make sure your brakes are working good!

  5. #5
    Senior Member zandoval's Avatar
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    Was driving my car and ran into the same situation in Houston Tx. Poor guy was bewildered and stuck. I honked my horn and let him get in front of me for protection. He appeared quite grateful...

    Also, don't forget the dusk sun. If you're ridding into a setting sun the cars behind you cannot see you. It's best to just wait it out in a safe place...

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    I'd seriously consider a mass transit option for that scenario. Just place your bike on the bus rack up front and forget it until the road work is completed...

  7. #7
    Pedalin' Erry Day lasauge's Avatar
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    I don't quite understand, maybe you could link us to a google maps view of the intersection in question?

    One general solution to this problem is to practice your ability to ride at very slow speeds, working up to being able to execute a proper trackstand, which is a very useful skill to have when dealing with traffic.

    Another trick which may be useful to you is to come to a stop with one foot on the curb/rail (if there is one to be used), this keeps you in the saddle and ready to accelerate more quickly, see this picture:

  8. #8
    Senior Member wolfchild's Avatar
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    Is this your only route ??..Is it possible to find another way ??...What about riding on a sidewalk through that stretch of the road ??...That's what I often do, I'll just ride on a sidewalk to bypass all the ramps and exits and then get back on the road.

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    The safest way is what works for you based on how you ride. If you're strong enough to climb at a decent clip, either take the lane, or do most in the 3' strip and move over at a break.

    IMO, possibly the most important cyclist skill is the ability to hold a straight line at a wide range of speeds and effort. If you prefer riding in the 3' available but lack confidence, find a steep hil with a painted fog line, and try to climb staying entirely on the line. It'll take a while, but soon enough you'll be able to ride keeping the bike wherever you want.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member TransitBiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by schiiism View Post
    I have a growing concern about an overpass on my commute. It’s only an issue on my southbound way home due to stop and go traffic. There is a huge construction project ongoing for several bridges along the I5 freeway; alternate routes are even more unsafe than the one I take, so there are no other plausible options.

    Essentially they are widening the bridge, and the crews recently demo’d several key lanes which has caused traffic at rush hour to be very unpredictable on the overpass. There is only one lane each way, and the southbound bike lane ranges from 2-3 feet wide. It’s a steep grade so I don’t really have the option of stopping and going with the cars while staying on my bike. The overpass also leads to an onramp, so it’s 50/50 whether the cars will keep moving at a green light or if it’s stop and go. I have no problem getting over as long as cars are moving, but I’m getting pretty stressed out about what to do when they aren’t. For the last few days I’ve been hopping off my bike and jogging through the bike lane; cars make room for me when they see me, but the ones ahead of me are often too far to the right for me to pass them. Obviously this isn’t completely safe, but it’s better than falling over into the cars trying to keep my balance at such slow speeds.

    Since they demo’d the pedestrian shoulders, there is no legal way to walk it up the bridge. But taking the lane isn’t legal if I’m walking my bike either. What is my best option for making it up the grade safely? After this most recent demo, they actually added a huge neon orange "Share the Road" with a bicycle sign at the bottom of the grade, so I know that the city has recognized the cyclist safety issues the demo has created.
    If the speed limit isnt crazy & cars arent rocketing though, i say helmet blinkie and rear standlight and take the lane.

    I personally dislike when DOT/local muni pulls this kinda crap with no safe alternative for bikes or peds. Shows a lack of good planning ability. The least they could do is put up a "share" sign or paint the lanes with sharrows or something....

    Most of all please be safe whatever you end up doing.

    - Andy
    I can't wait for the next pint of good chocolate milk after a long ride.

  11. #11
    Yogi on Wheels schiiism's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Northwestrider View Post
    Not being there, I have no suggestions really. But by your post it sounds as though you are clip less ( balancing at low speeds and falling over ). You may wish to consider temporarily switching to platform pedals ( ahhhgggg ) until the construction is complete.
    You’re probably right. I should have mentioned that I just switched to clipless two weeks ago (and bought this taller, racier bike a month ago) so I’m still getting the hang of it. I rode platform on my touring bike for three years on this commute so I’m a lot more comfortable and confident without having to clip in and out.. I just really like the clipless for the rest of my ride, so I don’t know if this one tricky bridge is worth the switch back.

    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
    The safest way is what works for you based on how you ride. If you're strong enough to climb at a decent clip, either take the lane, or do most in the 3' strip and move over at a break.

    IMO, possibly the most important cyclist skill is the ability to hold a straight line at a wide range of speeds and effort. If you prefer riding in the 3' available but lack confidence, find a steep hil with a painted fog line, and try to climb staying entirely on the line. It'll take a while, but soon enough you'll be able to ride keeping the bike wherever you want.
    Thank you, that’s a really good suggestion because there are several other climbs with fog lines on my route. I never thought to use them as practice.

    I guess my inexperience with my new bike/clipless pedals is contributing to my anxiety as much as the construction. I’m just glad that the drivers in this area are so courteous… probably because it’s a double fine zone

    Quote Originally Posted by TransitBiker View Post
    Most of all please be safe whatever you end up doing.
    That’s why I come here with questions As much silly bickering as there is on these forums, I really appreciate the insights from more seasoned cyclists.

  12. #12
    Super Moderator tractorlegs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by schiiism View Post
    As much silly bickering as there is on these forums . . .
    Silly bickering? Silly bickering? Us??!?
    Forum Guidelines
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by tractorlegs View Post
    Silly bickering? Silly bickering? Us??!?
    Yes, YOU!!!!!

    keep it up, and they'll send this to P&R, and toss us both out.
    FB
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    WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by schiiism View Post
    You’re probably right. I should have mentioned that I just switched to clipless two weeks ago (and bought this taller, racier bike a month ago) so I’m still getting the hang of it. I rode platform on my touring bike for three years on this commute so I’m a lot more comfortable and confident without having to clip in and out.. I just really like the clipless for the rest of my ride, so I don’t know if this one tricky bridge is worth the switch back.
    If you're using SPD pedals, get the SH-56 multi-release cleats. They make it much easier to unclip quickly. I have to say that you situation it all depends on the speed of traffic. In a 35 mph zone (traffic moving up to 45 mph), I'd feel fine going up that in the bike lane. There's no way I'd feel safe if traffic was moving at 55+.

  15. #15
    Yogi on Wheels schiiism's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tractorlegs View Post
    Silly bickering? Silly bickering? Us??!?
    There's just something about the internet that brings out the inner five year old in all of us

    Quote Originally Posted by gsa103 View Post
    If you're using SPD pedals, get the SH-56 multi-release cleats. They make it much easier to unclip quickly. I have to say that you situation it all depends on the speed of traffic. In a 35 mph zone (traffic moving up to 45 mph), I'd feel fine going up that in the bike lane. There's no way I'd feel safe if traffic was moving at 55+.
    These are the shoes and pedals I bought -

    Specialized Bicycle Components
    2014 Shimano PD R540 La Light Action Black Road Bike Pedal SPD SL Clipless New | eBay

    I read that they are beginner friendly, but it sounds like the SPD multi release may be a better option. I would also like a pedal that can clip in from either side so I don't have that occasional awkward fumble, which is an issue since I can easily hit 10+ red lights on my commute.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Mr. Hairy Legs's Avatar
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    I used to have the multi-release cleats but didn't find them any easier than single. They did, however, pop out occasionally when going over bumps, which was not good. Now I just keep my pedals on the loosest setting and don't have any issues.

  17. #17
    Senior Member TransitBiker's Avatar
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    I dunnah use clips of any kind, just standard pedals, so all these issues i am not familiar with.

    If it were ME, i'd just go in the lane and they can all screw off.

    Then again, i am very assertive when i ride and people tend to pick up on this even in their rolly metal boxes with the music thumping and such.

    - Andy
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by schiiism View Post
    There is a huge construction project ongoing for several bridges along the i-5 freeway; alternate routes are even more unsafe than the one I take, so there are no other plausible options.
    If you are talking about Valley View or Carmenita, post here for detailed help
    Southern California

    For southbound on VV over the i-5, I take the left turn lane (before bridge) that goes toward the Northwoods Inn. As you come across the intersection, go into the small front ring, and salmon it on the sidewalk, going over the bridge on the eastside. Stay to the left, still on the sidewalk, taking the Firestone Frontage road back towards `Mike Thompson RV`, and get back onto the Coyote Creek Bike trail.

    This is the only place in SoCal that I justify riding Salmon, on the sidewalk - this is what Caltrans has done to me.

    PS:
    Shoemaker bridge is going to reopen any day now, with 2 or 3 lanes each way. Not sure if it will help with i-5 curtain problem.
    Last edited by marquhar; 05-29-14 at 10:19 PM.
    New Hooverism: Chicken in every pot, car in every garage, and an HOV lane on every freeway.

  19. #19
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    It is altogether possible to use clipless pedals and not be clipped. I often ride across intersections with one foot clipped and one not, ensuring that I get up to speed first and clip in later.

    And yes, work on riding slowly. A 2-3 foot lane sounds pretty wide to me. If someone is blocking it, either take one foot out and go around them or just wait behind them and continue when the light turns.

    But again, hard to say without having been there myself.

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    I'd probably just wheelie the whole thing if I were you.

  21. #21
    Senior Member FedericoMena's Avatar
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    In another post someone suggested learning to pedal on a low gear while feathering your brakes - i.e. go slowly but still keep up a decent cadence. This helped me a *lot* to balance when going really slowly, like when cars are inching forward (even helps going uphill, when going at full power without brakes wouldn't give you enough time to negotiate cars).

    I ride with toe clips/straps. In these situations I normally keep my left foot clipped, right one unclipped, and only clip when I have a clear lane.

  22. #22
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    The problem with unclipping one foot is that sometimes you'll accidentally clip it back in, and that's sometimes a prelude to a fall- I always clip in when riding and unclip just before I set my foot down. Once it becomes habit, it's no different than platform pedals.

  23. #23
    Yogi on Wheels schiiism's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marquhar View Post
    If you are talking about Valley View or Carmenita, post here for detailed help
    Southern California

    For southbound on VV over the i-5, I take the left turn lane (before bridge) that goes toward the Northwoods Inn. As you come across the intersection, go into the small front ring, and salmon it on the sidewalk, going over the bridge on the eastside. Stay to the left, still on the sidewalk, taking the Firestone Frontage road back towards `Mike Thompson RV`, and get back onto the Coyote Creek Bike trail.

    This is the only place in SoCal that I justify riding Salmon, on the sidewalk - this is what Caltrans has done to me.
    I wasn’t aware of that forum, thanks for the tip! Have you been down Valley View north of the 5 recently? They just rerouted traffic this week to go under the train tracks, so that narrow winding stretch is gone

    Quote Originally Posted by mgw4jc View Post
    It is altogether possible to use clipless pedals and not be clipped. I often ride across intersections with one foot clipped and one not, ensuring that I get up to speed first and clip in later.
    I have done this as well more by necessity than choice. I still need to practice with clipless and climbing in a straight line to the point where it’s a conscious decision and not just because my foot kept slipping. I will keep that in mind though.

    Quote Originally Posted by FedericoMena View Post
    In another post someone suggested learning to pedal on a low gear while feathering your brakes - i.e. go slowly but still keep up a decent cadence. This helped me a *lot* to balance when going really slowly, like when cars are inching forward (even helps going uphill, when going at full power without brakes wouldn't give you enough time to negotiate cars).
    I have a question about changing gears during climbs. I have Sora thumb shifter buttons and have found that riding the hoods is the best way for me to easily shift. But when I’m climbing, I usually grip the tops or drops to stay steady, which puts the thumb shifters out of reach and the brake shifters questionable. Because of that I anticipate my gear and shift ahead of time before the hill. Is that the best way to manage it, or should I start practicing climbing while on the hoods?

  24. #24
    Senior Member TransitBiker's Avatar
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    That is one major reason i will never use ergo/drop bars. I like being on the shifter & brakes without having to move my hands. Has saved me bunches from numerous sticky situations both stopping AND going.

    - Andy
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  25. #25
    Yogi on Wheels schiiism's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TransitBiker View Post
    That is one major reason i will never use ergo/drop bars. I like being on the shifter & brakes without having to move my hands. Has saved me bunches from numerous sticky situations both stopping AND going.

    - Andy
    They both have their advantages. Being so close to the coast and with the Santa Anas, annoying headwinds are really common so I like the option to drop down

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