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Old 12-05-11, 11:54 AM   #1
AndreyT
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Expressway off ramp in CA: legal?

Consider this bike route, as suggested by Google Maps

http://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=Sa...&z=15&lci=bike

I have asked Google Maps to calculate a bike route from San Tomas Expressway to Winchester Boulevard in Campbell. I noticed that Google Maps goes out of its way to avoid the direct off ramp from San Tomas to Winchester

http://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=Sa...12,181.66,,0,0

Instead, it tries to draw the route through various side streets. (If you try switching between the "car" and "bicycle" routing modes you'll immediately see what I mean). Trying to force it to use the ramp (by adding intermediate waypoints) results in nothing. It just won't use the ramp. What could be the possible reason for that?

I know that ramp pretty well. One thing that comes to mind is that Google might consider this ramp to be unsafe for bicycles: it is relatively narrow, has no perceptible bike lane and is mostly unlit at night.

Another theory is that ramps like this might be closed for bicycle traffic in California (according to the vehicle code). Does anyone know this part of the law? I understand that freeway ramps are certainly off-limits for bicycles. But this happens to be an expressway ramp, where both the expressway itself (San Tomas) and the other street (Winchester) have well-established bike lanes.
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Old 12-05-11, 12:04 PM   #2
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Since both streets are legal for cyclists, I don't see any reason why off ramp it self is illegal. Googlemaps is just being conservative.
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Old 12-05-11, 03:05 PM   #3
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Seems to be the case. But how does that work do they rely on user feedback or employees?

Check out this section from skyline boulevard to great highway. Some of my friends are comfortable making that left onto great highway. But I've always ridden straight to Harding Road, crossed there and doubled back. There's no pedestrian crossing there. So I was surprised to see that google maps suggests that very thing going to harding road cross and double back to great highway.
http://g.co/maps/qxa3t

Quote:
Originally Posted by AndreyT View Post
I know that ramp pretty well. One thing that comes to mind is that Google might consider this ramp to be unsafe for bicycles:

Last edited by ricebowl; 12-05-11 at 03:09 PM.
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Old 12-05-11, 03:24 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by AndreyT View Post
I understand that freeway ramps are certainly off-limits for bicycles. But this happens to be an expressway ramp, where both the expressway itself (San Tomas) and the other street (Winchester) have well-established bike lanes.
Even freeway ramps are legal for bicyclists except where there is an explicit sign prohibiting them. Such signs are common, but there are lots of freeway sections where cyclists can ride on the shoulder and therefore also use the on- and off-ramps. One example is the short section of I-680 connecting Calaveras Rd. to Hwy. 84; another is about 400 miles of I-5 south of Tracy until after you cross the grapevine.

Google does welcome feedback on its routing and has made some changes based on user suggestions.

Last edited by prathmann; 12-05-11 at 03:27 PM.
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Old 12-07-11, 12:21 PM   #5
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its Legal. I and many other riders take that ramp daily.
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Old 12-07-11, 02:28 PM   #6
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Even freeway ramps are legal for bicyclists except where there is an explicit sign prohibiting them.
Yup. dat's da law in California: If it doesn't have a sign saying bikes can't go there, then bikes can go there.

Another local example - Hwy 24 between the Orinda on/off ramps and Fish Ranch Road is bike legal. So is I-5 from a little north of Redding to Dunsmuir (but for safety's sake, hitch a ride over the two Lake Shasta bridges - those suckers are just wide enough to be death traps).
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