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  1. #1
    Senior Member spectastic's Avatar
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    biking on the highway

    I want to get in the habit of biking long distances in my spare time. But the thing is some 60 mph roads only have a small 3 ft width strip for cyclists. I was doing a short ride to a close city that was only 6-7 miles away, and half the car that passed by me didn't bother to change lanes. They just whizzed past me with 3-4 feet of clearance. While I was on a strip of road that forced me to bike on the right lane, one dumb f*k honked at be before speeding 4 ft past me at 50 mph (this was not really a highway, but was an extension of a highway). I've never ridden on highways, what are some things I should know??
    Last edited by spectastic; 02-04-13 at 05:35 PM.
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  2. #2
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    You need a thick skin ignore the ignornant ^&^& that try and intimidate you. Where the bike lane is insufficient take as much lane as you need. Hugging the side will only get you killed. Sure some cars get annoyed but it doesn't take long for them to find a space to pass. Ride at your pace, try and be as helpful as you can to the cars while remaining safe, but remember you have as much right to the road as they do.

  3. #3
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    I avoid highways as much as possible as there are a lot of bucolic country roads around here. But I have to traverse some of them for a bit to get between the nicer riding roads. One 4 laner where the average speeds are about 70 left me thinking that these 'take the lane folks' can't be talking about roads like this. I wouldn't ride this road if there was no shoulder to ride on. But the other day I ended up on a portion of this road I hadn't been on and it turned out the shoulder was stripped for repaving and really wasn't in shape to ride on. Faced with either changing my planned route or taking the lane, I opted for the latter. (I'd planned ride over some new territory for a week or so and damn it, I wasn't going to scrap it only a quarter of the way into the ride.)

    Moved to the center of the right lane and held that position and I have to say it worked out much better than I might have anticipated. Everyone moved to the left lane seemingly without complaint. (There may have been some grumbling of course, but I couldn't hear it.) And since the travel lanes had been repaved, it was real smooth going.

    I do ride with two flashers on the bike and one on the helmet and that may help. Drivers can see me from a pretty good distance and can move to the left lane well in advance.

  4. #4
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    Lately my commute to work has been marred by the fact that the shoulder is covered in slush and ice. Given that I need to get to work and I don't feel like slipping on ice taking the lane is the only option. One intersection in particular is fun as the outermost lane is turn only so its move in one more lane or be shoved in a direction I don't want to go. The cars are distinctly un cooperative but they do make room if you assert yourself.

  5. #5
    Slob GrouchoWretch's Avatar
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    Three or four feet is not too bad really.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    3-4 feet is MUP-like. Our country roads have 1-2 feet max between the fog line and weeds. 55 mph speed limits equate to 65 mph traffic. Most drivers are considerate. I found tractor trailer drivers to be very considerate. Occasionally, someone passes without a lot of room to spare. Biggest risk IMO is someone passing cars in the other direction.
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  7. #7
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    You plainly have to have Big Brass Kahonas to ride on any public road. Riding on any kind of true highway is an act of Lunatic Bravery. I know because I have done this myself in conditions the OP has stated. Any of the previous tactics listed above work for the given situation.

    I do try to avoid busy state routes that go in or out of metro areas, such US RT 23 in central Ohio. Even given that most of this route has at least a 3 feet wide berm. 45 mph limit means 60 mph, 55 mean 70, tons of entry/exit points.

    I did ride with 6 people back from Marion, Ohio to Delaware, Ohio on RT 23. It was fun as a group with a steady 20+mph tailwind.
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  8. #8
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spectastic View Post
    I want to get in the habit of biking long distances in my spare time. But the thing is some 60 mph roads only have a small 3 ft width strip for cyclists. I was doing a short ride to a close city that was only 6-7 miles away, and half the car that passed by me didn't bother to change lanes. They just whizzed past me with 3-4 feet of clearance. While I was on a strip of road that forced me to bike on the right lane, one dumb f*k honked at be before speeding 4 ft past me at 50 mph (this was not really a highway, but was an extension of a highway). I've never ridden on highways, what are some things I should know??
    -- A 3 feet wide strip is ample room for you.

    -- The cars going by gave you 3-4 feet of clearance ... that's lots.

    -- Some drivers will honk to warn you that they are there.

    -- What should you know? The drivers don't want to hurt you. Stay out of their way, ride in a straight line, and ride predictably, and chances are, they won't bother you.


    I frequently ride on highways. Most of my rides are on highways with speed limits anywhere from 80 to 110 km/h. I've done tens of thousands of kilometres (guessing over 100,000 km) in those conditions. And sometimes there are shoulders, sometimes there aren't.

    Given a choice, I would prefer a 60-80 km/h quiet country roads, with or without shoulders ... or a 90-110 km/h highway with a shoulder. Give me one or the other.

  9. #9
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Age 80 and over 300,000 miles of cycling.
    Ride highways regularly. Have ridden on Interstate highways (where not prohibited) with 75 mph speed limits.
    If all you're want to do is ride quiet neighborhoods and bike paths, that's your choice.
    However, to get from point A to B or touring you best get used to riding with other vehicular traffic.
    Pedal on!
    Rudy/zonatandem

  10. #10
    Senior Member Mobile 155's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zonatandem View Post
    Age 80 and over 300,000 miles of cycling.
    Ride highways regularly. Have ridden on Interstate highways (where not prohibited) with 75 mph speed limits.
    If all you're want to do is ride quiet neighborhoods and bike paths, that's your choice.
    However, to get from point A to B or touring you best get used to riding with other vehicular traffic.
    Pedal on!
    Rudy/zonatandem
    Great point. It is also a matter of perspective. On many roads the cars comeing in the other direction are not passing much more than thee feet apart. In my state a motorcycle will split the lane with only 4 feet between cars. On the freeway a bus mirror may only be two or three feet from a truck mirror while traveling 65 down the freeway. It is something car, truck and bus drivers have learned to live with for years almost as second nature. I ride on expressways with 60 and 65 mph traffic almost every day and yes sometimes it seems closer than others. But the car drivers and truck drivers know the laws as well as cyclists and very few are willing to go to jail by running you down simply because they don't like cyclists.
    Life is like riding a bicycle - in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving. ~Albert Einstein.

  11. #11
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrouchoWretch View Post
    Three or four feet is not too bad really.
    +1
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

  12. #12
    Pentapointed Member ahsposo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrouchoWretch View Post
    Three or four feet is not too bad really.
    I would love 3 or 4 feet!

  13. #13
    ouate de phoque dramiscram's Avatar
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    In Québec you can't ride with a bike on highways, it's in the law. You can only ride a bike on road with a speed limit of 90 kms. Which I think is stupid because all roads with 90 kms speed limits have less room for bikes than 100 kms speed limit highways.
    The **** bureaucrat who wrote that law clearly don't ride a bicycle.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member lucille's Avatar
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    Most people pretty much said what I was going to say. It takes some getting used to riding in traffic. Wear clothes that make you visible, right in straight line and be predictable.
    Having a mirror would help you, it's much better to see a car approaching than realizing it's suddenly on your tail. Sometimes traffic and/or wind makes it hard to hear.
    Having any kind of paved shoulder is a luxury, enjoy it.

  15. #15
    Senior Member lucille's Avatar
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    Oh, and expect that some drivers will honk at you. Sometimes it's before they're jerks, sometimes because they want to make sure you know they're there. Some are generally freaked aout about having a bicycle on the road with them, and don't quite know what to expect.
    The mirror would help here as well. If you see the car coming and you anticipate they will honk or do something stupid, you won't get statrled.

  16. #16
    Slob GrouchoWretch's Avatar
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    On a tangent... a section of freeway is being built near my house. It's not open yet. It's going to replace a pitiful stretch of 2-lane blacktop that's carrying way more traffic than it was designed to. So sometimes I take my bike onto the new freeway and ride on it, looking down at the motorists jammed into their narrow, substandard car ghetto, and I think hey, why not keep it like this?
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  17. #17
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    Pick your roads wisely. "Highway" is a pretty vague term, and some of our highways are great for cycling, some of them nobody in their right mind would ever ride on. Our best roads around here are rural FM roads with minimal traffic. Riding on busy highways with wide shoulders can be done, but the traffic detracts from the fun considerably, so they're definitely a poorer choice. Busy highways without a shoulder are best just avoided altogether.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

  18. #18
    Senior Member TromboneAl's Avatar
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    Every ride from home involves this section freeway riding for me.

    LenaPPHill.jpg

    Caltrans 006.jpg

    In the second photo, the arrow part is steep enough that I've lost traction when it's wet.

    One aesthetic consideration is how much traffic there is. We have very little here, so that makes it better.

    Much of my freeway riding is like this:

    AlRidingNearClamBeach.jpg

    Those huge motor home drivers are the worst; they often don't move over an inch.

    Which may be safer than situations where the driver must go around you.

    AveGiantsHandBack.jpg

    But I would never take the lane on the freeway. If you get one of those "anti-cyclists" drivers coming up behind you, he would flip out.
    My Book: Drive, Ride, Repeat: The Mostly-True Account of a Cross-Country Car and Bicycle Adventure

  19. #19
    Senior Member
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    Three good sources:

    John Allen's "Bicycling Street Smarts", on the web at http://www.bikexprt.com/streetsmarts/usa/index.htm

    For a broader, more politicized, and more detailed description of cycling, John Forester's "Effective Cycling"
    http://www.amazon.com/Effective-Cycl...dp/0262516942/

    And finally, John Franklin's "Cyclecraft", http://www.amazon.com/Cyclecraft-Com.../dp/0117037400

  20. #20
    Walmart bike rider gpsblake's Avatar
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    South Carolina highways have zero distance between the white line and weeds a lot of the time. 3 feet would be awesome to have here.

  21. #21
    Senior Member spectastic's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the input. I just want to make sure I'm not doing anything stupid riding on the highway. There's constantly the worry that some texting teenager or a handicapped grandma won't see me at all. Those cars are going mighty fast, and most of them are pickup trucks.
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  22. #22
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spectastic View Post
    Thanks for all the input. I just want to make sure I'm not doing anything stupid riding on the highway. There's constantly the worry that some texting teenager or a handicapped grandma won't see me at all. Those cars are going mighty fast, and most of them are pickup trucks.
    Actually, when it comes to those specific fears, you're probably safer on a highway than you are on, say, quieter city streets. The handicapped grandmas tend to avoid fast moving traffic situations like that, and the texting teen has more to worry about than a cyclists on a highway ... their motivation to refrain from texting are the semis roaring past. Of course this isn't 100% the case, and you do need to pay attention ... use the mirror, wear brighter colours, ride predictably, don't use earbuds ... listen to the traffic instead.

    And remember if they honk at you, at least they've seen you and are acknowledging you.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    And remember if they honk at you, at least they've seen you and are acknowledging you.
    You sure about that.

    I have to fess something...a bit humorous, and yes, I will get blasted for this. At the beginning of last winter I was out riding after sunset before the end of twilight. Still enough light to see by but it was getting dark. I was riding without any lighting equipment at all. I had been having no trouble whatsoever. One night I was greedy for mileage so I decided to pick up another 7-7.5 miles and head on down to the next highway intersection southeast of my house. It was pretty much dark by this time. I'm riding along and people are passing by me and I'm having no trouble at all. All of a sudden some woman pulls up by me and yells out her window "We can't see you". I about laughed my ass off. She dropped back and then pulled up by me again and said the same thing. I pretty much ignored her. If she couldn't see me how did she even know I was there. Yes, this was on a two lane rural highway.

    Yes, thanks to one of the other bikers around the area getting sick of seeing me out all the time I have the full lighting set up anymore. I keep trying to refuse to use it for anything but local stuff since I know the first time I do any true night riding...I'm in big trouble with myself. Can you say hooked on night riding. If you never start doing something, you never have to stop. Almost extended my riding home from a town meeting(home at 10PM) last night and kept on riding into the lonely night. I couldn't let myself do it. I don't like the consequences.

    I will add the easiest way to get used to riding in traffic is to build up to it. If you live in an are like where I use to live, farmland country, you have the option of not riding in the traffic. Around where I live now there is no way to get away from the traffic. I still live in a rural environment but the traffic is everywhere. You have to make youself get out there and 'push the limits' so to speak. You have to make yourself get use to it. Do it a little at a time and let yourself build up the experience. I've been doing that the past couple of years with winter riding. I don't use any 'normal' winter gear...in terms of the bike...no studded tires of an kind, not even homemade. I look at a storm I was out riding in 1.5 weeks ago. Until just a couple of years ago I wouldn't even have went out driving in a storm like that yet alone been out on a bike in a storm like that. Now I don't think a thing about it anymore. Still haven't did any night biking when its snowing out but that is only a matter of time and being in the right location.
    Last edited by bikenh; 02-06-13 at 03:54 PM.

  24. #24
    Senior Member lucille's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikenh View Post
    You sure about that.

    I have to fess something...a bit humorous, and yes, I will get blasted for this. At the beginning of last winter I was out riding after sunset before the end of twilight. Still enough light to see by but it was getting dark. I was riding without any lighting equipment at all. I had been having no trouble whatsoever. One night I was greedy for mileage so I decided to pick up another 7-7.5 miles and head on down to the next highway intersection southeast of my house. It was pretty much dark by this time. I'm riding along and people are passing by me and I'm having no trouble at all. All of a sudden some woman pulls up by me and yells out her window "We can't see you". I about laughed my ass off. She dropped back and then pulled up by me again and said the same thing. I pretty much ignored her. If she couldn't see me how did she even know I was there. Yes, this was on a two lane rural highway.
    OK, you asked for it... I don't see it as humorous at all. Riding on a road in the dark with no lights is the dumbest thing you can do. You should have thanked her for pointing it out, rather than finding it so funny. Is it legal to ride a bicycle with no lights after dark where you live? It's not where I ride.
    You need to take some responsibility for your own safety, and not rely on bunch of strangers in cars looking after you.

  25. #25
    Dirt Bomb sknhgy's Avatar
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    I hate the fumes worse than anything.
    more cops have been killed by donuts than guns in chicago it is a medical fact ask any doctor.

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