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Seeking Advice on How to Tackle This Bridge

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Seeking Advice on How to Tackle This Bridge

Old 04-19-24, 03:31 PM
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Seeking Advice on How to Tackle This Bridge

Hi

On my commute, I have to cross this old bridge over the Merrimack river that connects Hudson and Nashua in New Hampshire. The other alternative of crossing the river is up in Manchester which adds a whole lot of miles and makes bike commute impossible.
So, here is the Google Earth snapshot. It's not a very long bridge. But it is often filled with impatient drivers. Take the case of these 3 drivers.
This is from the rear camera:

And these two are from the front. The camera decided to split the files right at that moment

I'd really appreciate some advice from the forum here on how to tackle this section. Should I just get over my hesitation and take the lane right from the start of the bridge? I tend to ride where the right tire track of a car would be. In order to discourage close calls like the ones from the Bronco and the SUV right behind it, should I ride where the left tire track would be in the lane? I will probably get honked at but better that than getting bumped off?

I was commuting through this section last year also but it was not so bad. I am also going to start leaving 10 minutes earlier and see if that makes any difference.

Thanks!



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Old 04-19-24, 03:43 PM
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In the video it looked to me that you were taking a good line; however if you describe it as right tire track that's too far to the right, IMO. You're inviting people to attempt a pass in the same lane. I'd right it a bit right of center and then see how it goes. I think you're wise in adjusting your departure time. 10-15 minutes can make a lot of difference. I was always lucky enough to adjust my work hours to make my commute easier.

Let us know how it goes.
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Old 04-19-24, 03:50 PM
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I‘d bite the bullet and ride the sidewalk
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Old 04-19-24, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Moe Zhoost
In the video it looked to me that you were taking a good line; however if you describe it as right tire track that's too far to the right, IMO. You're inviting people to attempt a pass in the same lane. I'd right it a bit right of center and then see how it goes. I think you're wise in adjusting your departure time. 10-15 minutes can make a lot of difference. I was always lucky enough to adjust my work hours to make my commute easier.

Let us know how it goes.
Thanks. I started off more to the right but by the time the Bronco came up behind me, I was more towards the middle of the lane.
Leaving early may solve the morning problem. I still have this bridge to tackle on my way back

Originally Posted by Steve B.
I‘d bite the bullet and ride the sidewalk
I am seriously considering that as well. It's not very well maintained but might be safer than all the other alternatives.
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Old 04-19-24, 04:02 PM
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Looks like you are holding a decent speed. My rule of thumb is 20+mph and I'm acting like a motorcycle. Uphill, against a big wind, or for whatever reason I can't hold 20 mph, I'd be on that sidewalk.
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Old 04-19-24, 04:15 PM
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Another vote for the sidewalk, even if I have to slow down to navigate some rough spots, or stop to let a pedestrian pass by.
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Old 04-19-24, 04:29 PM
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There is always that sidewalk.
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Old 04-19-24, 05:16 PM
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Originally Posted by JoeyBike
Looks like you are holding a decent speed.
Usually I am 20+mph on that section, thanks to slight downhill right before the bridge.

Originally Posted by Eric F
Another vote for the sidewalk, even if I have to slow down to navigate some rough spots, or stop to let a pedestrian pass by.
Originally Posted by ScottCommutes
There is always that sidewalk.
Yeah, the sidewalk is looking like a viable option. Its not as if the road is in a pristine condition anyway.
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Old 04-19-24, 05:54 PM
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Another vote for if, your going to take the lane, TAKE THE LANE. Don't give drivers the idea they can squeeze by you. Also, it looks like a lot of traffic and I too would consider just riding the sidewalk.

But entry onto and off the sidewalk must be considered. Entry looks easy, not sure about getting off, given the traffic lane splits and whether you're going to the right or left at the fork. If going left, then you have to cross over where cars are going to the right and most likely never going to notice you and certainly not yield to you. So, might be hard to get safely to left, if that's where you're going.
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Old 04-20-24, 06:53 AM
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I agree with those that suggest to take the lane. If you do not have a flashy rear light, I would add one. I have also worn a reflecting vest that has copy on the back that shows the legal passing distance in your state. If you can't finda vest with the legal distance, get the one that is close. Finally, I have had luck approaching the city or State, depending whose road it is, and getting them to install a bike caution sign. Your local advocacy group might be able to assist. The use of your videos will be a good tool. Also, a sign that displays legal passing distance is an additional alternative.
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Old 04-20-24, 07:17 AM
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Either take the lane (and really take it) or use the sidewalk. If there are pedestrians or probably even if not walk if on the sidewalk. it looks like a lousy sidewalk to ride and is a pretty short walk. I assume that is the law there anyway right?
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Old 04-20-24, 07:49 AM
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My first inclination would be to take the sidewalk, but as Mtracer points out, how to get on and off the sidewalk needs to be considered, particularly if there are risks involved with either maneuver.

It truly does suck that many of us grew up riding with this kind of normalized risk. I'm glad that what's acceptable risk is being reconsidered.
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Old 04-20-24, 08:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Amitoj
Yeah, the sidewalk is looking like a viable option.
I know a lot of people resist hitting a sidewalk for a number of reasons. Pedestrians, poor transitions (no ramps), PRIDE, stubborn, or succumbing to judgements from ppl on Bike Forums or other places all come to mind. It's YOUR hide in the balance. Looking at your pics, if I felt like it was just a matter of time before getting clipped, I would WALK my bike on the sidewalk if I had aversion to riding my bike on the sidewalk (I do not). Yield to all pedestrians and you're good IMO.

One good illustration: I recently moved to a place full of narrow, hilly, curvy, heavily trafficked (trucks too) arterial roads. Back roads lead to nowhere - all cul-de-sacs without thru traffic (dead ends). To me, it's a NO-GO entirely most places. So as I am DRIVING my bike on the car rack on Augusta Road (Greenville, SC) I noticed three roadies, full kits, from 50-70yo (best guess), sweet bikes, all very fit looking guys. They came out of a side street and all three hopped up on the sidewalk and rode to the next "safe" street. I guess that's how they lived to be "masters" category. Not too much pride! Facts on the ground man, facts on the ground!
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Old 04-20-24, 08:31 AM
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Assuming the road narrows for the bridge, I'd take the sidewalk. Walk it if there is pedestrian use, ride it if it's clear. Doesn't look like fun, either way.
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Old 04-20-24, 08:32 AM
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My commute before retirement at one point had me on a 2 lane heavily trafficked road with many parked cars, so limited shoulder. For about a half mile I had to take the lane and often had to listen to cars honking at me to get out of the way. Clearly American drivers have no interest in sharing a road with others. I know had they been stuck behind a slow moving construction vehicle they would not have been horn blowing. General feeling among car drivers is bikes do not belong and cars have right of way. I ended up researching a slightly longer route thru local residential neighborhoods. I still had a hairy 1/2 mile in a 4 lane road with no shoulder, where cars did 50 in a 30 zone and all I could do was hammer this section as well as take enough of the lane so as to not get clipped. I don’t miss it.
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Old 04-20-24, 08:56 AM
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I think take center of the lane is the answer. You're only on the bridge for 30s. You are out from the curb, a good signal that you have the lane. The two drivers that make the close pass are just jerks.

When there isn't enough space to pass safely - take all the space.
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Old 04-20-24, 02:57 PM
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Originally Posted by JoeyBike

One good illustration: I recently moved to a place full of narrow, hilly, curvy, heavily trafficked (trucks too) arterial roads. Back roads lead to nowhere - all cul-de-sacs without thru traffic (dead ends). To me, it's a NO-GO entirely most places. So as I am DRIVING my bike on the car rack on Augusta Road (Greenville, SC) I noticed three roadies, full kits, from 50-70yo (best guess), sweet bikes, all very fit looking guys. They came out of a side street and all three hopped up on the sidewalk and rode to the next "safe" street. I guess that's how they lived to be "masters" category. Not too much pride! Facts on the ground man, facts on the ground!
So much truth here.
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Old 04-20-24, 03:31 PM
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You are the one riding in this situation. You need to choose what is safest for you at all times. Because I ride 2" + tires I would have no problem riding the sidewalk. But I would be darned careful leaving and entering traffic. I watched your videos and you gave traffic the opportunity to endanger you. Either take more of the lane or use the sidewalk.
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Old 04-21-24, 04:35 AM
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Thanks for all your advice and inputs. Here is what I am thinking. First and foremost, leave 15 minutes earlier. Then, just before the bridge, there is a traffic light. If I am the first one at the light and it is red, as was the case when I shot the video, take the sidewalk as there will likely be several cars behind me. Thankfully I have to take a right turn at the end of the bridge and road widens quite a lot, so it should be relatively risk free. If I am the last one to clear the light, then I have some buffer between the cars behind me so I can take the full lane. If I am in the middle of the traffic then there is not too much gap between me and the car in front, so I can still take the full lane. And when I take the full lane, I should be more towards the left half of the lane.

On the way back, I am not in the bridge traffic for this long, so I can take the lane and also the traffic is usually crawling in the evenings.
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Old 04-21-24, 07:52 AM
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Agree 100% with the "take the sidewalk" advice. However, I have to say, I don't see anything wrong with the o.p. lane position NOR do I see much of a problem with how the o.p. is being passed. In a situation like is being discussed, the lines are literally blurred. It is a little much to expect that a following cager will not run right up on you and slide past, because they are thinking what we all are: "why isn't this @%$% on the sidewalk?" A full out 'take the lane' flex is just too much under the circumstances. No one I saw even came close to hitting him. I'd risk it indefinitely or ... use the sidewalk. Probably end up alternating between the two lines, depending on traffic or other variables on a daily basis.
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Old 04-21-24, 08:29 AM
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I'd have to feel that situation out before I could say definitively, but I don't mind using a sidewalk at all if needed.
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Old 04-21-24, 03:01 PM
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Another vote for the sidewalk.
Riding on the sidewalk would reduce the risk of being clipped by a car, and also reduce the likelihood of annoying other commuters. Staying on the roadway takes you ambiguously across a right exit, and the roadway seems to have drainage grates and rough pavement.
My solution would be to take the sidewalk and cross the exit on foot if necessary, a few feet along it where it seems to lose its curbs.
YMMV.
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Old 04-21-24, 03:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Amitoj
Ö.If I am the last one to clear the light, then I have some buffer between the cars behind me so I can take the full laneÖ.
I operate in a flat, straight 30-45 mph posted environment. I use the holes that traffic lights create to negotiate short segments. If Iím in the traffic going through the light and I have a turn-out, Iíll pull over then follow the last vehicle in the platoon, taking the full lane. Generally works well.

I donít like packs of cars behind me.
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Old 04-21-24, 09:23 PM
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Originally Posted by flangehead
I operate in a flat, straight 30-45 mph posted environment. I use the holes that traffic lights create to negotiate short segments. If Iím in the traffic going through the light and I have a turn-out, Iíll pull over then follow the last vehicle in the platoon, taking the full lane. Generally works well.

I donít like packs of cars behind me.
I use a similar strategy when stopped at a light with zero room in the lane after the light (no sidewalk). I will enter the intersection to the far right and hang out until the last car has gone and then proceed. I know that would be difficult with a never ending stream of cars, but if you are in the intersection when the light turns red then cars should be stopping.
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Old 04-21-24, 09:42 PM
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I'm usually on the road, but if I see a large truck or bus coming from behind and there is sidewalk available, I dive onto the sidewalk. In the videos above, the bridge crossing is short, and, it appears there is more broken pavement on the right edge of the roadway than the sidewalk which appears smoother. Also, you have continuous sidewalk over the bridge, not uneven or interrupted by driveways, another vote. But if you stay on the road and the lanes are not wide enough, take the lane. Also, try biking with another person, it commands more respect and implies witness. Also, a camera symbol and "camera" on the back of a vest can help.

There was a recent story about a service where you can call if you get pulled over by the police, with a lawyer in full two-way contact. The moment the police realized they were on camera, they got more polite. "You called a lawyer for a ticket?" "Yep." Cameras help, especially if they are known.
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