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Cycling on a 4-lane divided highway?

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Cycling on a 4-lane divided highway?

Old 03-08-09, 01:34 PM
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mrpleasant
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Cycling on a 4-lane divided highway?

I was out for a Sunday bike ride today and I saw something which disturbed me. I'm in the Northern VA area, which is known to have quite a bit of traffic congestion and not always the most attentive or even kind motorists. My ride today took me onto the bike path that parallels the Prince William Parkway which is a 4-lane divided highway. The speed limit on this road is 55 mph, however on this particular stretch of the road people are known to drive 70 mph. Driving a car on this section of road requires attention and constant adjustments just to maneuver automobile traffic. Well, while riding the very nice bike path next to the road today I saw a cyclist riding on the highway, and took a lane. I can't imagine he was going much more than 45 mph if he was able to sustain that speed at all upgrade. To me, given the nature of the road and the speed differential between the biker and generally heavy traffic, the situation was dangerous.

My question to the masses is this..... Why would anyone choose to ride on a high speed highway in this manner when a nicely paved, wide, uncrowded bike path exists next to the road? While I understand the rights of cyclists, as a motorist familiar with this section of road I do not appreciate the reason for riding in the road. I feel it is not only dangerous to the biker, but puts motorists at danger as well.

Not bashing the biker, or seeking bashing back toward me. I'm just trying to understand the possible reasons for this person to ride where they did. I saw someone mangled in the ditch not too far from here last Fall and felt they were also riding on a dangerous road where speeds were too high.

Thoughts?
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Old 03-08-09, 01:48 PM
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There is danger and there is the perception of danger. I don't know about traffic conditions in the US, altho' I've cycled in Toronto while visiting relatives and I rode on a similar highway there without any real trepidation.

In the UK, I've time trialled on the A1, the major non-motorway(expressway) highway in the country, which has a speed limit of 70mph and didn't feel threatened. Moving to the rightmost lane across from lane 1 to lane 3 to turn at the roundabout did take considerable care, tho'. On the other hand, in my pre-retirement commuting days, the right turn at a roundabout on a similar 4 lane dual-carriageway during the rush hour, esp. in winter, did raise the old pulse rate a bit, since it meant moving across 2 lanes to the far RH side of the second lane in heavy traffic. There were always drivers who would ease off to let me across, tho' they woudl have to slow down for the roundabout anyway.
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Old 03-08-09, 01:50 PM
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45mph? I'd hope any cyclist would avoid a bike path if they plan on attaining those types of speeds.
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Old 03-08-09, 01:55 PM
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Bike Paths are boring.







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Old 03-08-09, 01:57 PM
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Thoughts? Well, I can't provide them if you do not wish constructive criticism.

Sounds to me as if this fellow knew what he was doing - in which case, don't be a safety nanny and try to determine what is safe for him or not.

-Kurt
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Old 03-08-09, 02:17 PM
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Originally Posted by mrpleasant View Post
I can't imagine he was going much more than 45 mph if he was able to sustain that speed at all upgrade.
You've got a point; it sounds like he was a good 10 mph under the speed limit.
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Old 03-08-09, 02:24 PM
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As long as the cyclist is highly visible he's probably pretty safe. When I need to take the lane on a high speed road, I notice overtaking motorists switching lanes and / or slowing down to my speed fairly early. My biggest concern is never the first vehicle, but the ones that may be tailgating right behind it. Still, I haven't had what I would consider a close call in this situation yet. If the bike path was really nice (and uncrowded) I probably would take it instead.
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Old 03-08-09, 02:32 PM
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Dude can make 45 on an upgrade?

That's pretty badass. Wonder what he can do on a downgrade.

If he is on a controlled access freeway with a wide shoulder and he is taking the lane with even a hint of traffic, he is taunting charles darwin. Eventually chuck will tire of it and swat him down.
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Old 03-08-09, 02:41 PM
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This pic bothers me. You have a two lane with virtually zero shoulder. If a car attempts a pass near the crest the bridge, bad things could happen, such as having that ginourmous truck appear coming the other way. If you gotta, you gotta, I 'spose, but if there are alternatives, why tempt fate?

[/QUOTE]

This one bothers me as well. Fatties in racing kits should be dragged from their bikes and beaten.
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Old 03-08-09, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by mrpleasant View Post
I was out for a Sunday bike ride today and I saw something which disturbed me. I'm in the Northern VA area, which is known to have quite a bit of traffic congestion and not always the most attentive or even kind motorists. My ride today took me onto the bike path that parallels the Prince William Parkway which is a 4-lane divided highway. The speed limit on this road is 55 mph, however on this particular stretch of the road people are known to drive 70 mph. Driving a car on this section of road requires attention and constant adjustments just to maneuver automobile traffic. Well, while riding the very nice bike path next to the road today I saw a cyclist riding on the highway, and took a lane. I can't imagine he was going much more than 45 mph if he was able to sustain that speed at all upgrade. To me, given the nature of the road and the speed differential between the biker and generally heavy traffic, the situation was dangerous.

My question to the masses is this..... Why would anyone choose to ride on a high speed highway in this manner when a nicely paved, wide, uncrowded bike path exists next to the road? While I understand the rights of cyclists, as a motorist familiar with this section of road I do not appreciate the reason for riding in the road. I feel it is not only dangerous to the biker, but puts motorists at danger as well.

Not bashing the biker, or seeking bashing back toward me. I'm just trying to understand the possible reasons for this person to ride where they did. I saw someone mangled in the ditch not too far from here last Fall and felt they were also riding on a dangerous road where speeds were too high.

Thoughts?
I will get bashed for this BUT I agree that kina traffic and speeds is IMO a stuppid place to be for a person NO MATTER there skil level . There just asking for to get hit again IMHO . BUT to each his or her own its there funeral .
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Old 03-08-09, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by pipes View Post
I will get bashed for this BUT I agree that kina traffic and speeds is IMO a stuppid place to be for a person NO MATTER there skil level . There just asking for to get hit again IMHO . BUT to each his or her own its there funeral .
Road bikes belong on the road, not on kiddie paths.
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Old 03-08-09, 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by trekker pete View Post
This pic bothers me. You have a two lane with virtually zero shoulder. If a car attempts a pass near the crest the bridge, bad things could happen, such as having that ginourmous truck appear coming the other way. If you gotta, you gotta, I 'spose, but if there are alternatives, why tempt fate?
"two lane with virtually zero shoulder" describes 80% of the roads I ride on - I consider it much safer that congested areas with turning cars vying for your right of way every 50 feet. Besides, when the truck appears, there's still a good 5-10 seconds for any passing car to complete the pass and re-enter the right lane.
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Old 03-08-09, 03:33 PM
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A-holes who make judgements without sufficient information always irritate me and I live for the day some skinny dude tries to remove me from my bicycle for wearing the most comfortable gear I can afford
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Old 03-08-09, 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by degnaw View Post
"two lane with virtually zero shoulder" describes 80% of the roads I ride on - I consider it much safer that congested areas with turning cars vying for your right of way every 50 feet. Besides, when the truck appears, there's still a good 5-10 seconds for any passing car to complete the pass and re-enter the right lane.
I don't deny that there aren't plenty of worse situations than this. I find myself in some from time to time as well. Just pointing out that this looked like one I'd avoid, given an alternative. And maybe that truck is actually one of the better things you could have approaching. It is slow and tall. This means you see it early and have time to react. A better example would have been some asshat doing 80 mph in a vette while dialing his cell phone.
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Old 03-08-09, 04:04 PM
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I've probably ridden about 1,000 miles on the shoulder of large 4 lane divided highways. The research shows that its actually quite safe. I feel safer than I do on any MUP. The shoulders are typically 10 foot wide with a rumble strip between you and the motorists.

Since state DOT's often love saving money by building narrow bridges I sometimes find myself in the travel lane with 80 mph traffic for however long it takes me to cross the bridge. Its not comfortable but I do it. Most traffic change lanes but some do not because they lack the ability for cognitive thought.

So my question is this.......

#1. How much do you *really* know about bicycling? The guy was not going 45 mph so that makes me think that you know very little.

#2. Are you sure he was not on the shoulder? I've never heard of a 4 lane divided highway with 70 mph traffic without a shoulder. That does not seem safe for ANY road user.
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Old 03-08-09, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by trekker pete View Post
I'm an idiot
fixed that one for you
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Old 03-08-09, 04:57 PM
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One problem I have with bike paths is squirrels. You never know where they are going to dart out from. So you have to keep your speeds low. Taking the lane in 55mph is fine so long as that road has long line of sights and he has a powerful tail light, dinotte or brighter.

If he wasn't holding up traffic, then I would prefer that commuting option to the bike path.
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Old 03-08-09, 05:31 PM
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I'm not trying to determine what was safe for him. He obviously thought it was safe. I would not put myself in that position given another safer choice.

Safety nanny? Nah. But are you a discussion board nanny?
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Old 03-08-09, 05:39 PM
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Originally Posted by gosmsgo View Post
I've probably ridden about 1,000 miles on the shoulder of large 4 lane divided highways. The research shows that its actually quite safe. I feel safer than I do on any MUP. The shoulders are typically 10 foot wide with a rumble strip between you and the motorists.

Since state DOT's often love saving money by building narrow bridges I sometimes find myself in the travel lane with 80 mph traffic for however long it takes me to cross the bridge. Its not comfortable but I do it. Most traffic change lanes but some do not because they lack the ability for cognitive thought.

So my question is this.......

#1. How much do you *really* know about bicycling? The guy was not going 45 mph so that makes me think that you know very little.

#2. Are you sure he was not on the shoulder? I've never heard of a 4 lane divided highway with 70 mph traffic without a shoulder. That does not seem safe for ANY road user.

(1) I don't pretend to know more about bicycling than you. I don't know you and I'd not likely come to a conclusion without knowing you. What I do know is how fast I was going. I know approximately the rate at which this fellow surpassed me. That makes me much more capable of judging his speed than you all the way across the Internet. Now, how much do you *really* know about how fast he was going. Not 45? Ok....

(2) There is a shoulder on this road. He was in the lane. I'm not sure why, but perhaps because the shoulder has some sand from a recent snow and ice event. I avoid sand, and I'm sure this guy did. Whether that played into his position on the road, I don't know.
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Old 03-08-09, 05:48 PM
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Had to run out again (this time motoring), so I took a snapshot of the area in question. The bike path is also in the picture.

I thank everyone for their input to this discussion. Yes, even those who are a bit snitty! I can be that way myself. In the end, discussion is all in good fun, right? Anyway, given the view of the road and path feel free to contribute or change your mind. It should be noted, traffic was heavier this afternoon than this evening when the picture was taken.
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Old 03-08-09, 05:53 PM
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I'm still stoked to have seen a "share the road" sign on I-5... I'm gonna have to take advantage of that one of these days.
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Old 03-08-09, 05:55 PM
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I ride where I feel safest...and in most cases I feel safer on the road than on some bike path. I've been riding on the roads for my whole life, in many cases long before there were more than a handful of bike paths in the entire country. I can see the usefulness of bike paths for those who are not comfortable on the roads...so I am not anti bike path - until someone tries to force me to ride on the bike path because it's there. That is my concern with the OP and so many noob riders who are afraid of the roads...your wonder about those of us who ride on the roads tend to result in governments attempting to require us to ride on paths if they exist. I don't try to force you to use the roads, so please, be careful about sharing your thoughts concerning forcing me to use the paths in public...where those nasty politicians might hear you.
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Old 03-08-09, 06:09 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
fixed that one for you

thanks man!

btw, which post did you fix?
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Old 03-08-09, 06:24 PM
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Originally Posted by trekker pete View Post
thanks man!

btw, which post did you fix?
see the little blue button to the right of the "originally posted by . . ." ?

click it.
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Old 03-08-09, 06:30 PM
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Originally Posted by mrpleasant View Post
(1) I don't pretend to know more about bicycling than you. I don't know you and I'd not likely come to a conclusion without knowing you. What I do know is how fast I was going. I know approximately the rate at which this fellow surpassed me. That makes me much more capable of judging his speed than you all the way across the Internet. Now, how much do you *really* know about how fast he was going. Not 45? Ok....

(2) There is a shoulder on this road. He was in the lane. I'm not sure why, but perhaps because the shoulder has some sand from a recent snow and ice event. I avoid sand, and I'm sure this guy did. Whether that played into his position on the road, I don't know.
It has nothing to do with knowing the law. It has to do with physics.
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