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Tips for riding on 2 lane country highways

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Tips for riding on 2 lane country highways

Old 04-10-15, 10:06 AM
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Tips for riding on 2 lane country highways

Hi All,

I'm new to road biking but love riding the conveniently located country roads near my home. These are 2 lane country highways with 3 foot bike lanes on each side.

Since they are country roads there is barely any traffic but when traffic comes it swooshes past you at 55+ MPH.

Listening for a car is a bit tough since the roads are rough and my bike tires are making a lot of sound.

Looking for cars in mirrors is also tough since they are traveling so fast, by the time you see them they are past you.

Any other tips on how to prevent being hit and generally feel safe? The only one I can think of is riding against the traffic to see on-coming cars.
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Old 04-10-15, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Inpd
Hi All,

I'm new to road biking but love riding the conveniently located country roads near my home. These are 2 lane country highways with 3 foot bike lanes on each side.

Since they are country roads there is barely any traffic but when traffic comes it swooshes past you at 55+ MPH.

Listening for a car is a bit tough since the roads are rough and my bike tires are making a lot of sound.

Looking for cars in mirrors is also tough since they are traveling so fast, by the time you see them they are past you.

Any other tips on how to prevent being hit and generally feel safe? The only one I can think of is riding against the traffic to see on-coming cars.
Can you ride on something other than a 2-lane 55mph country highway?

EDIT: It is against the law, to ride against the traffic!!! The combined speed in a head-on collision with a motorized vehicle, makes the ability to see a vehicle, null and void.

Last edited by Chris516; 04-10-15 at 11:24 AM.
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Old 04-10-15, 10:53 AM
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It seems to me that you have a pretty good shoulder and if you use a good mirror you'll see cars coming in plenty of time. We have roads like you described in Vermont. Some I will ride, others not so much. I do not like fast cars or big trucks going by me.
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Old 04-10-15, 10:55 AM
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Do NOT ride against traffic. Avoid the roads that are uncomfortable to ride on. Find the quiet roads.
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Old 04-10-15, 11:04 AM
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You are lucky. You have a bike lane to ride in. I have to ride two lane paved roads with no lane, I have to ride the car lane. Fortunately, it is Amish country and people are fairly used to slow moving vehicles and I have always been given a wide birth. I watch my mirror and consider whether I have to go off the road. Which wouldn't be pretty.

It is riding like this or not at all when I am in Iowa for two, three months a year.
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Old 04-10-15, 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by practical
Do NOT ride against traffic. Avoid the roads that are uncomfortable to ride on. Find the quiet roads.
What is the reasoning for riding against the traffic? The roads are very quiet but it only takes one car and being highways they drive fast. I just want to see them early enough to take evasive action if they have entered the bike lane.
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Old 04-10-15, 11:15 AM
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Good grief, you have BIKE LANES?

I ride on 55+ MPH 2 lane roads with not an inch of shoulder.

I have no trouble hearing cars probably 1/2 mile before they get to me. Many seconds. I'm not sure what the problem is if you have a friggin bike lane.

My main tool is to be aware of the road conditions ahead of me, and if there's a car coming up behind me, if there's no oncoming traffic or if there is and the road isn't wide enough for passing within the lane, move to the center of the lane. Especially in places (many on my route) where the right side of the road is torn up, patched and potholed.

But if I had a bike lane, I guess I wouldn't sweat things as much.

Also, have a really, really damned bright taillight so they see you a mile or so before they get to you. I run AT MINIMUM an Axiom Pulse 60, at night or when there's any bad conditions at all (fog/rain/snow) I have a DesignShine DS500. The DS is pretty expensive, but the Pulse 60 is only about $35 and is worth it.
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Old 04-10-15, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Inpd
Hi All,

I'm new to road biking but love riding the conveniently located country roads near my home. These are 2 lane country highways with 3 foot bike lanes on each side.

Since they are country roads there is barely any traffic but when traffic comes it swooshes past you at 55+ MPH.

Listening for a car is a bit tough since the roads are rough and my bike tires are making a lot of sound.

Looking for cars in mirrors is also tough since they are traveling so fast, by the time you see them they are past you.

Any other tips on how to prevent being hit and generally feel safe? The only one I can think of is riding against the traffic to see on-coming cars.
Does not compute.

My best retort to riding against traffic is going uphill, and you meeting a car which you did not see and the driver meeting a bike he did not see.
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Old 04-10-15, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by ItsJustMe
Good grief, you have BIKE LANES?

I ride on 55+ MPH 2 lane roads with not an inch of shoulder.

I have no trouble hearing cars probably 1/2 mile before they get to me. Many seconds. I'm not sure what the problem is if you have a friggin bike lane.
Well there are these things call cell phones and apps like CandyCane and this thing called text messaging. I've had a couple of people drift into the bike lane but pull out before hitting me. These weren't close messes at all, but I didn't have time to react which is my concern.
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Old 04-10-15, 11:56 AM
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Just put a rear blinky on your bike and ride and enjoy your bike lane/shoulders. I would like them but don't expect them in my county any time soon so I just ride on the road. I use a mirror but it's not like I'm going to deliberately ride into the ditch and wreck every time I think a car is taking too long to move over to pass safely. I just don't worry about it -- it's way more safe than riding my motorcycle.
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Old 04-10-15, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Inpd
What is the reasoning for riding against the traffic? The roads are very quiet but it only takes one car and being highways they drive fast. I just want to see them early enough to take evasive action if they have entered the bike lane.
If a drifting driver is likely a random event, I would think an oncoming car from in front is as likely to drift into your lane too soon for evasive action as would an upcoming car fom behind; and it's hard to believe you can't use a mirror to visualize cars behind you.

(I'm not chastizing you, just sayin', since you asked, but based on my decades of experience. )

Originally Posted by Stun
My experience is that people drive differently in every city and treat cyclists very differently. The best advice often comes from cyclists that live the closest to you...The exception here would also be Jim from Boston--anyone that can successfully commute around Boston has my full respect and probably knows how to deal with about [everything]...imaginable!
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Old 04-10-15, 12:12 PM
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Riding against traffic is dangerous and illegal. If a 3 foot bike lane, decent tail light, mirror, and exercising situational awareness are inadequate, then perhaps finding other routes is the only option.
Fear is the font of bad decisions.
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Old 04-10-15, 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Jim from Boston
it's hard to believe you can't use a mirror to visualize cars behind you.
Thanks for all your help. I should mention these are flat country roads.

Sure, if I'm looking in the mirror all the time. But often I'm in the drops with my head down or even when I'm on the hoods I don't want to be staring in my mirror all the time.

Maybe that's the problem. Is the solution to be looking at my mirror all the time?
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Old 04-10-15, 12:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Inpd
I'm new to road biking but love riding the conveniently located country roads near my home.

Any other tips on how to prevent being hit and generally feel safe?...
If you feel safe on 2-lane country roads, then something is wrong with you. It is natural to worry about getting whacked out there. Unfortunately, the only solution to your problem is to avoid those types of roads. Otherwise, keep your affairs in order, make your peace with God, and ride on.
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Old 04-10-15, 12:18 PM
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Dinotte Tail Light on Strobe Helps much.

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Old 04-10-15, 12:18 PM
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Originally Posted by JoeyBike
If you feel safe on 2-lane country roads, then something is wrong with you. It is natural to worry about getting whacked out there. Unfortunately, the only solution to your problem is to avoid those types of roads. Otherwise, keep your affairs in order, make your peace with God, and ride on.
:-) ... and strap a priest to my rack to administer last rites and cleanse me of sin so I go straight to heaven.
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Old 04-10-15, 12:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Inpd
Any other tips on how to prevent being hit and generally feel safe? The only one I can think of is riding against the traffic to see on-coming cars.
Riding against traffic will only make you FEEL safe. It will actually be about 10x more likely to get you killed. Don't do that. It's ridiculously dangerous and illegal.

Get a daytime-visible taillight and wear high-vis clothing. That will do more to keep you safe with distracted drivers than anything else. You want them to notice you at least 1/4 mile before they get to you.

Distracted drivers is why I now have a DS500 taillight. I was (still will if I must) seriously considering mounting some of the type of light bar that they put on emergency vehicles.
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Old 04-10-15, 12:51 PM
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Here in Maine, there are many country roads.


I lived in towns with country roads that don't have bike lanes and also had stretches where it is difficult or impossible for a cyclist to get off the road in time if there is a car/truck approaching at a fast clip. On one such road, truckers began using state route 27 for a more direct route toward Interstate 95. Along a long section, of this route, the road was hilly and narrow, leaving a cyclist to get off the road and dismount. As time passed and the traffic increased, the road was widened with a 3-5 foot lane outside the travel lanes. However, it's not well maintained.

For this and other such routes in the countryside, bicycle clubs and other organizations petition and lobby for road maintenance.
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Old 04-10-15, 01:11 PM
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Just hang right, and let the cars take care of themselves. Very few will be hugging within inches of the edge of the road, especially with wide shoulders or a "bike lane".

I don't feel that I would have enough time to react and head into a ditch with a car approaching at 55 mph if I thought my life was in danger, so I generally let the cars take care of themselves.

Are you riding a MTB on the pavement? You might try smoother tires, it will improve your riding experience.
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Old 04-10-15, 02:29 PM
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not sure what kind of mirrors you use. I have mirrors on my bike that only require a quick glance down. I do not have to move my head....I would not use them to shave with, but they are fine for seeing something as large as a car or truck coming up on me. It also seems you spend a lot more time in the drops than I do.
I spend most of my riding time either on the tops or hoods and only go onto the drops when required.
In my part of east texas farm roads, there are no bike lanes, just a white line and grass or gravel to bail on.
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Old 04-10-15, 02:40 PM
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Please don't ride against traffic. You are endangering not only yourself but other cyclists who are riding on the correct side of the road.
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Old 04-10-15, 03:09 PM
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I've wondered about this too. Not that I'm going to go to the opposite side of the road anytime soon, but for the highways that are narrow and where you don't have a choice.

I like to avoid these narrow highways if I can. Having a truck pass you at 100km/hr is no fun. Rosewood-Laidley Road comes to mind. Not a highway, but they drive there at highway speed.

https://www.google.com/maps/@-27.639...yGR1B70_9w!2e0

I have ridden this to Lanefield (from Rosewood) on a fold-up with no mirrors. You'll note further back towards Rosewood is a section with a guard rail.

https://www.google.com/maps/@-27.638...FRhUpeVoLg!2e0

The way I tackled it (and I was very inexperienced then) was to ride up to where the start of the guard rail was, wait for all traffic to pass, then ride passed the guard rail. That's probably the most dangerous point, and this is before Queensland law was updated to give us 1m clearance when passing.

I never got clipped. Maybe I was just lucky.
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Old 04-10-15, 03:13 PM
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Do the math. If you are riding 30kph and the car is driving 100kph, if you are riding with traffic, the relative speed is 70kph. If you are riding against traffic, the relative speed is 130kph.
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Old 04-10-15, 03:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Inpd
Well there are these things call cell phones and apps like CandyCane and this thing called text messaging. I've had a couple of people drift into the bike lane but pull out before hitting me. These weren't close messes at all, but I didn't have time to react which is my concern.
If you're too concerned to enjoy the ride, don't do it.

The road you're describing sounds like a nice road for biking myself. 3 foot shoulder is plenty. Wear bright clothing and a couple of high powered rear blinkys if you don't feel safe. Me? I just ride and don't worry about it. Nothing in the world is perfectly safe, and a road like that wouldn't make me feel a minute of discomfort.
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Old 04-10-15, 04:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Redhatter
The way I tackled it (and I was very inexperienced then) was to ride up to where the start of the guard rail was, wait for all traffic to pass, then ride passed the guard rail.
I do the same thing at narrow bridge crossings on busy roads. Just wait for a break in traffic and then sprint across.
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