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Lansing, IA Mississippi River Bridge

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Lansing, IA Mississippi River Bridge

Old 10-09-23, 07:27 PM
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Lansing, IA Mississippi River Bridge

Anybody know it? Not ideal riding, but I live near there on the Wisconsin side, and had an errand that didn't need a car in Lansing today, so I rode over. 2.5 close calls on the way back, in the spirit of the Halloween season:

The bridge is roughly 18-20' wide, steel grid deck. Coming from Iowa there's a short (30-40'?) Steep (15%?) ramp up, then roughly 100-150' level, and maybe 250' steep down the other side. Speed limit 25mph on the bridge, a single solid, faded yellow line down the middle. I was going roughly 12-15mph on the level section at the top when a pickup truck decided to pass me (because all cyclists stand still). She started to pass, straddling the center line, when another car came up onto the flat part of the bridge from the other direction. The driver braked and pulled back in behind me, and once the second car had passed she again attempted to pass, and this time did so successfully. The 0.5 was the second pickup truck who followed her past me the second time, although I think that was on the slope down already where he had a clear view of oncoming traffic.

About 1/2 mile later, on a left hand bend where the westbound lane has a passing zone but the eastbound lane does not, a semi passed me, crossing into the oncoming lane around a blind corner. There was a car forced slightly onto the shoulder, but no collision.

To their small credit all drivers involved gave me adequate room. In the future I'll hog the whole lane on the bridge. I don't think there's anything I could have done about the semi except watch out for shrapnel.
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Old 10-09-23, 08:12 PM
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I call that: "They MUST pass".
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Old 10-09-23, 08:56 PM
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For that short a distance, taking the lane does seem the safest option. Good luck.
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Old 10-09-23, 09:04 PM
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I wondered about pulling off and calling the police with a vehicle description. The first truck that passed had New Mexico plates: few enough of those in Wisconsin that, combined with a rough description of the vehicle and driver they could probably have tracked her down if they wanted to.
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Old 10-10-23, 04:25 AM
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I would not antagonize motorists by riding in the middle of the lane. I think the first driver did the right thing and I admire her patience and cool under pressure. If you stay as far as you can to the right, in most situations, two moderately-sized vehicles can pass one-another near you. Personally, I don't worry about cars coming near to me when they need to, because of on-coming traffic. I know that life happens, but maybe time your rides over that bridge for a quieter part of the day/week?
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Old 10-10-23, 05:15 AM
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Originally Posted by 1989Pre
I would not antagonize motorists by riding in the middle of the lane. I think the first driver did the right thing and I admire her patience and cool under pressure. If you stay as far as you can to the right, in most situations, two moderately-sized vehicles can pass one-another near you. Personally, I don't worry about cars coming near to me when they need to, because of on-coming traffic. I know that life happens, but maybe time your rides over that bridge for a quieter part of the day/week?
In most situations I agree. That particular bridge has 18-20' of roadway and immediately outside of that is the superstructure of the bridge. There is never enough room on that bridge to pass. As far as timing, it was about 3:00 PM on a weekday, but that bridge is the only place to cross the Mississippi River for about 30 miles in either direction. Despite being in a fairly rural area it's always going to be somewhat busy.
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Old 10-10-23, 05:15 AM
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Yeah I’m familiar with that bridge. Used it last year, don’t get up there much ( live in Grant Co) would choose not to ride it if I had the option. Pulling that first incline coming out of Lansing could/would definitely back up traffic and may be likely to eventually cause some driver to make a poor choice.
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Old 10-11-23, 06:17 AM
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Originally Posted by JoeyBike
I call that: "They MUST pass".
Yep, just like the ones who will accelerate to try to get to a stop sign before you do.
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Old 10-11-23, 06:25 AM
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That bridge wasn't engineered to accommodate anything but vehicular traffic. As indicated there's no alternate route to cross the river for miles and miles either north or south so it gets a lot of traffic.

I live fairly close to it yet rarely get down there, having no reason to cross over. Were I on a bike I'd avoid transiting it entirely simply out of self-protection. Cyclists just don't get the common courtesy they rightfully deserve from most motor vehicle operators.
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Old 10-11-23, 03:55 PM
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In situations like that I take the lane so that drivers behind know they'll need room for a full lane change when passing. However, once a passing car (or truck) is abreast, I'll move right to help them move back to the lane smoother. If I suspect a possible issue with oncoming traffic, I'll move right and scrub off enough speed to eliminate overlap in case the passing driver feels compelled to move back into the lane.

FWIW most of this is EXACTLY what is considered proper road etiquette for drivers being passed.

WARNING - If the driver miscalculates he might start moving back into the lane preferring to squeeze you to a head on, so you need to be aware and ready to react accordingly. Passing semis present a unique issue here because of their length, making harder to eliminate overlap.

---

BTW ---- I see they're building a replacement. Do you know if and how they factored bicycles into the design?
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Old 10-11-23, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY
BTW ---- I see they're building a replacement. Do you know if and how they factored bicycles into the design?
I was aware that a new bridge is in the works, hadn't looked at details. The last couple of times I've been over there I've noticed crews in boats on the north side of the current bridge. It's not immediately obvious what they're doing, but I presume it has to do with building the foundations.

https://iowadot.gov/lansingbridge/Ne...esign-Overview

Looks very promising. Current bridge is 10' lanes with no shoulders, new bridge will be 12' lanes with 8' shoulders. Bridge deck width increasing from 21' to 40'. Concrete instead of steel grate deck surface is an improvement, too.
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Old 10-12-23, 09:07 AM
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I would not antagonize motorists by riding in the middle of the lane
It is a substandard lane. You endanger yourself by cowering in fear to the furthest last 1\4" of road to the right. This encourages their bad behavior. Prior to moving further into the lane you ask for permission by making sure the traffic lane you are moving further over in is clear of traffic. You then hand signal and move over. You don't linger their either. You hoof it until across, then check that it is safe to move back to the right further and do so. I have on occasion observed motorists enter the right turn lane at intersections so when the light changes they can go straight. this happened both while riding bicycle and in my car.
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Old 10-12-23, 09:21 AM
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Originally Posted by One Wheel
To their small credit all drivers involved gave me adequate room. In the future I'll hog the whole lane on the bridge. I don't think there's anything I could have done about the semi except watch out for shrapnel.
If they gave you adequate room, what is it that you think they did wrong?
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Old 10-12-23, 09:34 AM
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe
If they gave you adequate room, what is it that you think they did wrong?
They gave me adequate room, and seriously endangered other traffic and themselves.
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Old 10-12-23, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by One Wheel
They gave me adequate room, and seriously endangered other traffic and themselves.
That kinda mirrors what I brought up in an earlier post: if vehicle drivers would simply behave according to published rules of the road we'd be better off.

Glad to see OW's post on the new bridge plans. A few years back a portion of the earth embankment between bridge segments collapsed after heavy rainfall, dropping a motorist into the backwaters of the Mississippi River.

That structure's been in need of renewal / redesign to serve the public interest for years. 8' wide shoulders will be welcome if not just for cyclists but for motor vehicle drivers that suffer some kind of failure while traversing the crossing.
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Old 10-12-23, 09:50 AM
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Originally Posted by One Wheel
They gave me adequate room, and seriously endangered other traffic and themselves.
It doesn't sound like their driving caused any serious problems.

Originally Posted by spclark
That kinda mirrors what I brought up in an earlier post: if vehicle drivers would simply behave according to published rules of the road we'd be better off.
Wisconsin allows crossing a double yellow to give room to a bicyclist -- does Iowa forbid this?
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Old 10-12-23, 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe
Wisconsin allows crossing a double yellow to give room to a bicyclist...
Huh... didn't know that 'till now, and you're right! Thanks!

Here's a comprehensive list of states that have similar laws (I note that Illinois has adopted the 3-foot rule). Scroll down the page for each state's rules about passing when a double yellow's present. Seems it's permitted in Illinois (625 ILCS 5/11-703) as well as some other states; Wisconsin's entry makes no mention (Wis. Stat. § 346.075), Iowa's field is entirely empty of anything.

Originally Posted by tomato coupe
-- does Iowa forbid this?
From this (scroll down to paragraph 2.11) it would appear so, unless there's a caveat for special circumstances further in the publication.

When I lived and biked (and drove) in Illinois it was verboten to cross the double yellow. I make a practice of giving wide clearance when passing Amish on the roads around here, if necessary crossing into the oncoming lane on two-lane roads even when there's a double yellow when there's no oncoming traffic visible. Reduce my speed also. (Seems only fair to the horses, at minimum.)

Cyclists get a quick toot-toot from a couple or three hundred feet back as a 'heads up' and the same treatment as with passing Amish when appropriate.

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Old 10-12-23, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe
It doesn't sound like their driving caused any serious problems.
Perhaps the law-abiding driver who was nearly forced into a head-on collision on the bridge, or the second law-abiding driver who was forced onto the shoulder to avoid a high speed head-on collision with a semi truck would disagree. I don't want to die, I also don't want anybody to die because of me.

Originally Posted by tomato coupe
Wisconsin allows crossing a double yellow to give room to a bicyclist -- does Iowa forbid this?
All states forbid unsafe passing. Passing zones are designed for vehicles operating near speed limit, it's not unreasonable to pass a much slower-moving vehicle in a shorter distance than would be safe to pass a faster-moving one. But if there's close oncoming traffic, or you can't see if there's close oncoming traffic, it's not safe to leave your lane.
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Old 10-12-23, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by One Wheel
...if there's close oncoming traffic, or you can't see if there's close oncoming traffic, it's not safe to leave your lane.
Agreed.
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Old 10-12-23, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by One Wheel
Perhaps the law-abiding driver who was nearly forced into a head-on collision on the bridge, or the second law-abiding driver who was forced onto the shoulder to avoid a high speed head-on collision with a semi truck would disagree. I don't want to die, I also don't want anybody to die because of me.
You stated the first driver pulled back in behind you when they saw the approaching car, and then passed on a subsequent attempt. You also stated originally that the other car was forced slightly onto the shoulder by the semi. Neither of those cases sound like they came anywhere close to a head-on collision. They sound like non-events to me.
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Old 10-12-23, 12:10 PM
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Holy cow! I am almost certain I rode through Lansing while crossing the country in 1999 and have a photo of that bridge on my home computer. (I was shooting B&W film and there were some cool shades and shadows on the bridge.) Spent the night before in La Crescent. Came down the river through Brownsville into IA and camped a little way out of Lansing on Great River Rd.

I remember thinking that I would not want to ride across that bridge. Of course, I am sure there was much less traffic back then. In fact, I don't remember seeing any cars crossing. It had to have been a Saturday or weekday because we stopped at the Brownsville post office to pick up General Delivery mail. The postal workers had made a poster with drawing and the names of everyone in our group of 13 who had mail waiting for them.
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Old 10-12-23, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe
You stated the first driver pulled back in behind you when they saw the approaching car, and then passed on a subsequent attempt. You also stated originally that the other car was forced slightly onto the shoulder by the semi. Neither of those cases sound like they came anywhere close to a head-on collision. They sound like non-events to me.
Both pass attempts by the first car were blind, the driver got lucky on the second attempt. I recall when I spent a couple of weeks in Columbia making the observation that driving there was a matter of geometry, while driving in the US is a matter of physics. Geometrically these were non-incidents, in terms of physics they were very dangerous. The pass on the bridge would likely have not been fatal, the second would have at least killed the driver of the car if the semi had not swerved back into his lane immediately or the car had not gone into the river.
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Old 10-12-23, 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by One Wheel
Both pass attempts by the first car were blind, the driver got lucky on the second attempt.
Bottom line: the driver was able to abort the first pass when he spotted the approaching car, and the second attempt succeeded without incident. You didn't mention the squealing of tires during the first attempt, so this really sounds like a non-event.
Originally Posted by One Wheel
I recall when I spent a couple of weeks in Columbia making the observation that driving there was a matter of geometry, while driving in the US is a matter of physics. Geometrically these were non-incidents, in terms of physics they were very dangerous. The pass on the bridge would likely have not been fatal, the second would have at least killed the driver of the car if the semi had not swerved back into his lane immediately or the car had not gone into the river.
Again, you stated the approaching car was slightly on the shoulder. This is a routine occurrence where I live -- approaching drivers often move slightly onto the shoulder so that cars passing bikes can give the bikes extra room.
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Old 10-12-23, 01:05 PM
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe
Bottom line: the driver was able to abort the first pass when he spotted the approaching car, and the second attempt succeeded without incident. You didn't mention the squealing of tires during the first attempt, so this really sounds like a non-event.
If the oncoming car had popped up just a little later there would not have been time to stop. There's a sharp edge between the ramp up to the top of the bridge and the flat top of the bridge.

Originally Posted by tomato coupe
Again, you stated the approaching car was slightly on the shoulder. This is a routine occurrence where I live -- approaching drivers often move slightly onto the shoulder so that cars passing bikes can give the bikes extra room.
When both vehicles are traveling at least 55 mph?
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Old 10-12-23, 01:46 PM
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Originally Posted by One Wheel
When both vehicles are traveling at least 55 mph?
Happens all the time; the drama is overwrought on this thread.
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