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Old 05-20-07, 07:56 PM   #1
oldokie
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Crossing rivers at Interstates?

In many areas, they only way to cross rivers is on the Interstate system (no bikes allowed) without long detours of many miles. As an example, some of area I would like to include in a tour are on opposites sides of a river with no non-Interstate crossing for a 100 miles or so. On very long tours, alternate route planning is a very viable solution. However, on shorter tours, it is not an answer if it defeats your desired itinerary.

How do you handle that on tour between two points when an Interstate crossing is the only reasonable solution?
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Old 05-20-07, 09:08 PM   #2
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I live outside St. Louis and at least here you do have a few options to cross the Mississippi.

* You can take the Metrolink (a train) across the river. Bikes are allowed on the train and a one way ticket costs about $2.00.
* If you're going to the Metrolink station on your bike, you might as well just take the Eads Bridge (which the Metrolink ralso uns on) and ride your bike across the bridge (free).
* If you're just a bit North of St. Louis, you can ride across the Chain of Rocks Bridge.

Which specific rivers/areas you've run into with no good options? (I agree with you about it being a problem, I'm just curious which ones you've encountered.)
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Old 05-21-07, 08:25 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldokie
In many areas, they only way to cross rivers is on the Interstate system (no bikes allowed) without long detours of many miles. As an example, some of area I would like to include in a tour are on opposites sides of a river with no non-Interstate crossing for a 100 miles or so. On very long tours, alternate route planning is a very viable solution. However, on shorter tours, it is not an answer if it defeats your desired itinerary.

How do you handle that on tour between two points when an Interstate crossing is the only reasonable solution?
There's always a general hail on BF to see if there are any members nearby that can ferry you and the bike across.........say a day or two out, to give us time to clear the time and find a good meet point. It would depend on the area, I suppose!
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Old 05-21-07, 09:28 AM   #4
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You don't say specifically where you will be riding. On the East Coast, there are numerous ferries along the Chesapeake and here in North Carolina. I've seen journals of rides that are centered around ferry crossings here. My son and I just used two ferries to tour the Outer Banks and could have taken more if our trip were longer.

If there's a toll crossing involved (ie, NYC) it may also be possible to call the toll authority and ask for assistance.

My favorite anecdote I've read so far is from a cyclist who needed a ride over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge heading north from Norfolk to the Delmarva peninsula. He parked at the side of the road and held up a sign offering to pay the gas for anyone who could carry him the 10-15 miles over the water.

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Old 05-21-07, 11:32 AM   #5
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Toll bridges are easier than free bridges if no bikes are allowed.
If it's a toll bridge, arrangements can often be made at the toll booth. Even if that means hanging around until an empty pick-up with a nice driver stops to pay the toll. Free interstate bridges are another thing altogether. Sometimes in rural areas there isn't even an exit right before/after the bridge but miles away. Your best bet is to catch a ride from someone at a service station on one of these exits - but that involves some risk - especially for women.

I have hitched across many rivers by boat. These new interstate bridges have replaced ferries that ran for decades if not more than a century. Most of the old ferry landings are now used for private boat launching. You just ride up to the old ferry crossing - get lunch out - or your journal - and wait for someone to put a motor boat in. I've crossed the Mississippi, the Missouri, the Potomac, maybe another. It was always the very first boat - lots of laughter. But they would take me to the ferry landing on the other side. The nice thing about old ferry crossings is that there are convenient landings on both sides. PLUS - the roads leading to the defunct ferries are nice and quiet.

On a weekend you might only have to wait for 15 minutes - there could even be a line of folks waiting to put their boats in. Easy pickins. Weekdays mean a longer wait - maybe an hour or two. But if you ask in a nearby town where a busy put-in is located - you should be able to get across - meet great folks - and enjoy your time on the water.
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Old 05-21-07, 11:52 AM   #6
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PS -

I have been fighting state departments of transportation for years about this. Same goes for tunnels. Kentucky, Tennessee, and the National Park Service built a multi-million $ 4-lane tunnel under Cumberland Gap - then the park closed the old road over the gap - tore out the roadbed - replaced it with a trail - and banned bicycles. They could care less about bicycles. You can bike up the expressway to the security window at the tunnel, hope to catch someone's attention, then wait until they can get you thru the tunnel. Of course, bikes are banned in the tunnel. They insist that it is a courtesy service. I tell tham that I should sue them over misuse of ISTEA multimodal funds.

Same goes for the Whittier Tunnel in Alaska. The government spends bazillions of dollars to move cars more quickly and actually makes it impossibile for cyclists to transit the mountain in question. The St. Francisville ferry in Lousiana - the last on the Mississippi between New Orleans and New Madrid - is set to end service when the big new bridge is finished. The new bridge is "supposed" to allow cyclists, but it will also include miles of expressway riding to access the crossing. Ughh! Ferries on large rivers are a thing of the past - but they are a great way to cross a river. You actually have to stop and acknowledge - "Hey, that is one big river."

There are still a couple of ferries on the Upper Mississippi - two in the St. Louis area - Grafton and, better yet, the Golden Eagle Ferry. South of Cairo, Illinois there is a ferry between Dorena, Missouri and Hickman, Kentucky - I took this years ago. More correctly - the ferry had been out of business for some time, but the owner took me across anyway. Amazing! It now has state support to provide a critical connection and is worth considering if you are riding in that area.

As for the TransAm crossing at Chester - the Popeye Bridge is narrow and dangerous. There is a beautiful new bridge with bike lanes at Cape Girardeau - or a ferry - yes a ferry - at Ste Genevieve. And Ste Genevieve is a lovely historic river community from French colonial days. If you can find ferry crossings of other big rivers - I'd suggest planning your route accordingly. The ferry crossings are so nice - plus cars tend to avoid these routes because they don't want to be delayed.
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