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  1. #1
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    Bicycles on Interstate Freeways

    I've pretty much worn out Google trying to find a list of states that allow bicycles on the interstate freeways. Can anybody point me in the right direction?

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    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Where are you planning to tour?
    [SIZE=1][B]What I like about Texas[/B]
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    Set F1re To The Ra1n ( NY Night Rain Ride)
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    Quirky Grifter LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Louis Le Tour View Post
    I've pretty much worn out Google trying to find a list of states that allow bicycles on the interstate freeways. Can anybody point me in the right direction?
    I can vouch for Washington and Oregon (outside of the cities).

    Here's Washington states guide to where you can't ride on highways/interstates
    http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/bike/closed.htm
    Last edited by LesterOfPuppets; 06-29-14 at 01:34 PM.
    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Lemond Buenos Aires Triple

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    In the US, you generally can ride a bicycle on the shoulder of rural Interstate highways. Its prohibited in urban areas for safety reasons.

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    Quirky Grifter LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NormanF View Post
    In the US, you generally can ride a bicycle on the shoulder of rural Interstate highways. Its prohibited in urban areas for safety reasons.

    I think I would change that to "West of the Mississippi." Seems like many eastern states outlaw cyclists on all Interstate highways.
    Last edited by LesterOfPuppets; 06-29-14 at 02:19 PM.
    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Lemond Buenos Aires Triple

  6. #6
    Senior Member longbeachgary's Avatar
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    There is a short stretch of freeway near Camp Pendleton that allows bicycles. You must take the exit (you can't cross the exit ramp.) I've never ridden there myself.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Northwestrider's Avatar
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    I believe it depends on the area, as if there is no other alternative , it's allowed .

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    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    I am aware of nowhere east of the Mississippi where it is allowed. Most places west of the Mississippi it is OK away from major cities. There may be a "where it is the only option" in the law but in my experience that is almost never enforced.

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    Here in Iowa bicycles are not allowed on interstates and most limited access roads. Our interstates have a 40 mph min which is also a breaker for the deal. A few places you are allowed for a limited distance to use certain bridges.

    Mike

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    Not to make matters more confusing. Last Saturday I rode into a rather interesting situation in central MD. I was riding south on MD222 down to US40 and was going to take US40(yes, non-interstate) into Baltimore. As I hopped onto US40 I was right at the bridge over where the Susquehanna River exits into the Chesapeake Bay. As I got up to the east bound toll gate a guy going east bound yelled out his truck window at me...'Cyclists aren't allowed on the bridge.' I started scanning for any signs that said 'Bikes Prohibited'. I didn't see any. There was a cop car parked in the west bound pullover right on the east side of the bridge. I looked but couldn't tell for sure if a cop was in the car or not. I rode on across the bridge and nothing...at least not until I was about 3/4 mile west of the bridge and I heard sirens behind me. I looked back and saw a cop right behind me on the shoulder. After a few seconds and he didn't go around I pulled over. Turns out the guy that yelled out the window at me was right. Bicycles aren't allowed on the bridge without being escorted across the bridge. It sounds like in the state of Maryland whenever you see a bridge being shown as off limits you can get an escort to get across the bridge. I know the cop was mentioning 895 which is interstate and that you can stop in at the 'gate house'/contact them before you get there and they will see if they have someone available to get you across the bridge. You may have to wait a while, possibly long while before they can get you across. I know I saw in a previous post about being able to get permission to ride on some of the New Jersey interstates. After the entire confrontation with the MD bridge I think I come to understand what is going on.

    Out west of the MS River most of the time you don't have alternative access to get between two points and federal laws requires that if you are going to closed down a stretch of road to cyclists(to put in and interstate highway) you have to provide an alternative route that has to meet certain requirements...hence all the bike path crap you see around interstate highways. Out west they didn't bother to put in the bike paths and instead they don't stop the cyclists from riding on the interstates.

    Generally in the east, of the MS River, interstates are off limits because in most spots you have alternative routes that are available and cyclists are suppose to use them. Don't think just because you look at the map and it doesn't show it as interstate that it isn't limited access. I use ridewithgps.com to do my trip planning and just back on Friday it let me down. US33 around Wapakoneta, OH it shows as not being limited access but it is and has been for a long time. There are signs where US33 turns from 2 lane to 4 lane that flat out state 'Bicycles Prohibited.'

    Generally, with good success I just point and click on the start point and the finish point and let ridewithgps show the way and it will avoid road closures and limited access highways. I've had it give me heads up on bridges that are being replaced as it won't let me go through a stretch of road and when I go and investigate further I see their is a bridge out or for some other reason the road is closed.

    Pretty much as has been said above west of the MS River you can pretty much ride the interstates outside of the cities in the east plan on routing otherwise. If you are riding down a highway and it flat out dumps you onto an interstate they generally won't say anything until you get to the next off ramp. You have to hop off at the next available off ramp.

    From what I've seen and heard all the above is correct. Is all this correct or can someone further correct what I've always heard.

  11. #11
    mev
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    I've ridden short stretches of interstates in:

    AZ, CA, CO, MT, NM, NV, OR, TX, UT, WA, WY

    For those states and ID - I would expect rules that generally allow cycling outside urban areas and I would look for either "bicycles prohibited" or "caution bicycles" signs near on-ramps. In spots not allowed, there may be reasonable alternatives. TX seems to behave slightly different between West Texas and further east. NM I remember having a no-bicycles sign over Raton Pass, but crossed it anyways. WY seems to pretty much allow it everywhere (not that Caspar or Cheyenne are big cities).

    KS prohibits bicycles on I-70 and my guess is also I-35. Not so sure on OK, NE, SD, ND - though there are very reasonable alternatives to I-80 through NE. MN, IA, AR, MO, LA all have bits west of the Mississippi though pretty sure not allowed in LA and am not so sure about the others either.

    East of the Mississippi I would expect prohibited as the default.

    I think Alaska has roads designated as Interstate, though those go through rural areas I would expect to be allowed to bicycle on. I was told I couldn't ride the big road through Fairbanks when I cycled there but that was only a short stretch.

    Here is what my Google search of "what states allow bicycles on interstate highways" had as one of the entries: Non-motorized access on freeways - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Last edited by mev; 06-29-14 at 03:43 PM.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
    Where are you planning to tour?
    Seattle to Miami.

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    consensus is... there is no consensus.

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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    I am aware of nowhere east of the Mississippi where it is allowed.
    New Jersey allows bicyclists on many freeways if they apply for a permit from the Bike/Ped coordinator for the state:
    Biking in New Jersey, Highway Restrictions, Commuting, Commuter Information

    California has already been mentioned as allowing access on some of its freeways. A few years ago we checked into which sections were legal and found that I-5 was ok all the way from the SF Bay area (just outside Tracy) until near the LA metro area (exit outside Santa Clarita). Plenty of alternate routes along this stretch of about 400 miles including the bike path along the aqueduct, but we didn't encounter any objection when riding the shoulder of I-5. One CHP officer stopped by occasionally but the interaction was entirely friendly.

    But I don't recommend the route for bike touring - lots of flats from steel wires left from tire debris, very noisy from the continuous stream of passing trucks, and the right-of-way is so wide that there's no nearby scenery with the result that you feel like you're going slower than normal.

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    Senior Member bikemig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hueyhoolihan View Post
    consensus is... there is no consensus.
    That's pretty much the rule on Bikes Forum!

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    Senior Member Shimagnolo's Avatar
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    Colorado law on bicycles on highways;
    See 42-4-109 (11): https://asci.uvm.edu/equine/law/roads/co_roads.htm

    Colorado map showing roads where cycling is prohibited;
    Look for the alternating black/yellow: Colorado Bicycle & Byways Map

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    Quirky Grifter LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Louis Le Tour View Post
    Seattle to Miami.
    I you don't mind adding a couple of days travel time you should consider Point Roberts, WA to Key West, FL
    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Lemond Buenos Aires Triple

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    <riding now> BigAura's Avatar
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    Forget Interstates they are noisy and boring. There is almost always another option and where there isn't you are usually allowed on the interstate.

  19. #19
    Hi-Tech Redneck Johnny Mullet's Avatar
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    Interstate = Motor vehicles only

    Who the hell would want boring interstate travel on a bicycle anyway?
    Putting the fun between my legs.......
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    Walmart bike rider gpsblake's Avatar
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    I would always have an alternative if you were planning on riding interstates where it's legal (out west). One reason is we all have ridden down the interstate in our cars and suddenly road construction shows up and the shoulder disappears and Jersey walls start appearing. And like others have said, it's a noisy ride, and a ton of things that can cause a flat.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by longbeachgary View Post
    There is a short stretch of freeway near Camp Pendleton that allows bicycles. You must take the exit (you can't cross the exit ramp.) I've never ridden there myself.
    I believe this has changed. When we rode through there a couple of years ago, they allowed us to ride right through the post. We did not have to go out to the freeway.

    There are a few places in the west where the interstate is the only road, and bikes are allowed. I-84 in Idaho, and I-5 in southern Oregon and Northern California. We only use the Interstate and freeways when there is no other alternative. Freeways definitely would not be my first choice. One reason is that interstate highways usually by-pass all the small communities on the older roads/routes. For me the small communities add a lot to the touring experience. More so than lunch at Howard Johnson's.

    I-84 in southern Idaho. We were following Highway 20 which funneled through this area along with several other major highways. It was the only road through this 85 mile stretch.
    Last edited by Doug64; 06-30-14 at 10:31 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
    "There is a short stretch of freeway near Camp Pendleton that allows bicycles. You must take the exit (you can't cross the exit ramp.) I've never ridden there myself."

    I believe this has changed. When we rose through there a couple of years ago, they allowed us to ride right through the post. We did not have to go out to the freeway.
    No change. There's a route through the Camp Pendleton base that is usually open to cyclists (but helmets required and you need to stay on the specific route). However, it's subject to closure by the base (and was closed for some time after 9/11) so the I-5 freeway shoulder is also a legal route for cyclists. Most of the time you have your choice of the two options.

  23. #23
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny Mullet View Post
    Who the hell would want boring interstate travel on a bicycle anyway?
    In some cases I actually enjoy it. It is especially nice in open country tours where you want to knock out long miles. On the ST, in NE New Mexico, and a few other places with very open country the scenery is generally a long view and pretty much the same as from smaller roads. The roads are well graded and the surface can be good. In some cases there isn't even all that much traffic.

    I especially enjoyed I-25 in NE New Mexico. It had great views of the Sangre de Christo mountains, a good surface, light traffic, and less steep grades.

    Personally the biggest drawback for me is less interaction with the local folks, but I generally am off of the interstate enough on any given day that I meet lots of people any way.

    Not interstates, but some roads with the US designation can be an especially nice middle ground. US-90 comes to mind, I'd consider riding it end to end if riding that part of the country again.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny Mullet View Post
    Interstate = Motor vehicles only

    Who the hell would want boring interstate travel on a bicycle anyway?
    In some cases, they are the only option. For example, ACA's Trans Am route uses I-80 for about 15 miles east of Rawlin's, WY because it's the only option. It's no more boring than a frontage road would be. The shoulder is wide and the traffic was relatively light when I rode it one morning.

    Want to go east of Steele, ND on paved roads? I-94 is your only option. Did 14 miles to Tappen during CANDISC. Virtually no traffic early a.m. and the scenery was the same as it would have been had there been a frontage road. I believe ACA's Northern Tier route also uses I-94 near Dickinson, ND because it's the only paved option. Theodore Roosevelt National Park is near there. Check it out on Goggle Maps using Street View. Not exactly boring scenery, and very light traffic.

    In MT, every inch of Interstate highway is open to bicycles. Again, in some cases, the Interstate is the only option. There are often frontage roads, but in some cases they are not through roads. They can end in the middle of nowhere, and there is usually barbed wire fencing (deters deer and cattle from entering the roadway) that makes it tough to then jump on the highway.
    "I've wanted you to succeed, but watching you find excuse after excuse after excuse and then laugh it off as the loveable, quirky, chubby guy is getting old."--Ill.Clyde

  25. #25
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    +1) If the Interstate usurps all other roads , you do as you Must.

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