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  1. #1
    Hidden playable character Bikemiker's Avatar
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    Wide shoulder or low traffic volume?

    All other things being equal, which do you prefer? Let's give this hypothetical road a bit of everything. Some climbs, some flats, some descents, some curves and some straight sections, one lane in each direction, with a posted speed limit of 55 and traffic speeds varying accordingly. Do you feel more comfortable with a large comfortable shoulder width, but with heavy traffic volume, or a narrow to non-existent shoulder, but with a lower traffic volume? If you are planning a tour and this information is available to you, does it play a large factor in planning your route, or is it more important for you to just go where you want?
    I gotta Mike my bike.

  2. #2
    Senior Member digger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bikemiker
    All other things being equal, which do you prefer? Let's give this hypothetical road a bit of everything. Some climbs, some flats, some descents, some curves and some straight sections, one lane in each direction, with a posted speed limit of 55 and traffic speeds varying accordingly. Do you feel more comfortable with a large comfortable shoulder width, but with heavy traffic volume, or a narrow to non-existent shoulder, but with a lower traffic volume? If you are planning a tour and this information is available to you, does it play a large factor in planning your route, or is it more important for you to just go where you want?

    Whew, tough question. I think THE best solution is -

    For roads with high traffic volumes a wide shoulder is needed.

    For roads with low traffic volume, then a wide shoulder is not needed, but with lower speed.

    But high traffic Vs. low traffic is differant for many people. When i first moved to this province I had read a bicycle touring book for the province that stated a particular road was low to moderate traffic. When I finally rode my bike on the thing I was surprised what the author considered low traffic!

    However, to answer you question a bit better, IF a road is truly low traffic volume then I'd prefer the second choice and would base a tour/ride on that. High traffic/wide road just means (typically) more noise, no scenery, no convienences, bypass the interesting spots, etc.

    Digger
    Originally posted by Bones_McBones: Wow Digger, wow! You've earned my respect.... I know ashoposo got werked up. You are the gutter pig of Trollheim.

  3. #3
    Hooked on Touring
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    I agree - -

    If a road really has low traffic, then there's no need for shoulders. And roads that have wide shoulders are usually airport runways that slice right through the countryside. Such has happened to the Alaska Highway which has been reconstructed over the past ten years. Where it used to wind up and down and around - following streams and hillsides - now it is a straight shot with forest cutbacks the width of two or three football fields. Yes, it is much safer and faster for truckers carrying goods back and forth to Alaska, but the old Alaska Highway is gone forever.

    There are a few ways to find those magical roads, though.
    First, it will never be the most direct route from Point A to Point B. You have to be willing to go a little extra distance. Next, it will not be the straightest. If it winds around every oak tree and barn, folks who want to get there yesterday won't use it, but it will be perfect for cycling. And it may be hilly. The hills are not cut - the valleys are not filled - so you have to go up and down - but you feel the landscape. Finally, if there is a little dirt stretch, the cars will literally disappear.

    Although many people who tour do a heck of a lot of miles, most of us are about quality, not quantity. It takes a little planning, but there are awesome backroads all over the country. It makes the entire question of shoulders moot.

    Best - J

    PS - That said - - Oftentimes you have to get out on bigger roads for short spells - and then I do appreciate shoulders.
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  4. #4
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Either one is fine with me.

    What I don't like is no shoulder and high traffic volume. I've had to do that a few times.


    As for affecting where I go ... I go where I want to go, the type of road doesn't matter to me. However, if I have an obvious choice of two routes to get to my destination and one appears nicer (low traffic volume or wide shoulders) than the other, I'll choose the nicer one.

  5. #5
    ROM 6:23 flipped4bikes's Avatar
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    ^^^^^ What they all said ^^^^^

  6. #6
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Is this really hypothetical? If not and this is a tour in AZ, I am curious about what your two road choices are?

    Al

  7. #7
    Hidden playable character Bikemiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noisebeam
    Is this really hypothetical? If not and this is a tour in AZ, I am curious about what your two road choices are?

    Al
    Hypothetical, no specific choice to be made. I'm new to touring, and I generally prefer low volume, but I still get very un-nerved by cars flying by me at warp speed and sometimes way too close, even if it isn't as often. I do enjoy the (probably false) feeling of safety I have riding on a nice wide shoulder, but the trade off for me (constant streams of oblivious traffic, less scenic, large trucks, noise, etc...) isn't worth it. I was just wondering what others have to say about it.
    I gotta Mike my bike.

  8. #8
    Velocipedic Practitioner
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    low traffic, of only for being able to avoid all the road noise. Wide shoulders may be nice, but you'll still have to contend with trucks, cars, etc and the noise they make, the scenery they block, the aromas the mask, etc.
    Other forms of transportation grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart. - Iris Murdoch

  9. #9
    Hooked on Touring
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    Unfortunately, Arizona has one of the smallest systems of paved state highways and few through paved country roads to augment them. Arizona was seriously empty until about 40 years ago. It had a very small highway system. Even though the population has boomed and expressways have been built, the rural system is meager - - i.e. not many capillary roads. You can bike to Parker on back roads but not to Yuma without getting on I-8. You can get to Tucson on Hwys 79 & 77, but sections are 4-lane and there's lots of traffic. Trying to head north is tricky, too - either thru Prescott or Payson. It's a shame that as the Phoenix and Tucson areas boomed that a county paved road system was not developed alongside the growth. But Arizona has been famous for little comprehensive regional planning.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
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    Those are the choices I have to make every day when I ride locally and 90% of the time I opt for the roads that have very little traffic and no shoulders. What can make the choice tricky is if it's windy. A road with wide shoulders give you a little leeway to be blown around, but I find the drivers on the back farm roads are almost always very considerate of the crazy cyclist who can't seem to ride in a straight line when the wind is blowing.

  11. #11
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    This is a no-brainer. Give me the low volume shoulderless road any day. The high volume road will be noisy, have more billboards and other scenery blocking signs, and the shoulder will be full of tire treads, glass, construction materials, and even discarded clothing. The only good thing about the high volume road is that if you keep your eyes open, you'll find a good hand tool on the shoulder looking for an owner who will take care of it.

  12. #12
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    I loathe biking on roads with lots of traffic, especially when the traffic includes trucks. Traffic stinks. I have travelled on heavily-used roadways with generous shoulders, and it can be OK, but it's never my first choice. I can't ignore the stench and rumble of traffic zooming by. Even on a wide shoulder, I feel I have to stay vigilant of vehicles approaching from behind. Too often a car full of yahoos does something stupid, like scream, blast the horn, or deliberately swerve in my direction.

    I prefer quiet backroads sans shoulders.

  13. #13
    Senior Member howsteepisit's Avatar
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    Low Traffic for me. The smell and sounds of traffic ruin the reason I like to bike. BAck to nature, solitude, comradary, scenery, all that stuff. Lots of traffic caused me to pay too much attention to cars, even with a wide shoulder. On the othe hand, if I am doing a milage run then I take the route I need to get where I am going to.
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  14. #14
    Punk Rock Lives Roughstuff's Avatar
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    I've been on plenty of both. I can't say either one is overwhelmingly a favorite. Traffic never bothered me...I'm there, so why grudge anyone else? A wide shoulder is nice...i have been on many rural country roads (usually state roads like Massachusetts 9 in Wmass, for exacmple) where the shoulder was wider than the traffic lane. Like Gershwin says, nice workif you can get it. Very rural roads with no or narrow shoulders can be cool; provided the drivers understand the limits of such a road as much as cyclists do. Parts of route 8A in Wmass are like that...narrow climbs just enough for one car to pass, let alone an oncoming vehicle. I usualluy can hear them in such a rural environment.

    To me bike lanes, bike paths, bike whatevers are for the birds. The best investment is to make sure as many roads as possible have a shoulder at least 1 1/2 feet wide, which i what i find adequate in the vast majority of my riding. I view the shoulder as 'my lane,' so the more the merrier.

    roughstuff
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    I'll take no shoulder, low traffic any day.

  16. #16
    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamawani
    You can bike to Parker on back roads but not to Yuma without getting on I-8.
    Actually, you can ride all the way from Phoenix to Yuma without getting on I-8.
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

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