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Old 06-11-04, 11:18 AM   #1
obrien1984
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freeway biking

I just returned from my first trip out West (in a car), during which I twice saw bicyclists on interstate highways. The first time was down a dangerously steep hill in Idaho (semi trucks had their engine brakes on all the way down). The second time was in South Dakota. This really surprised me, since I always thought bicycles were prohibited from interstate highways. However, I couldn't find the usual Restricted Access signs at the start of the onramps. I also noticed that these particular highways were labeled as both interstate and federal highways, and were the only reasonable way to get between two cities.

I assume that it was perfectly legal to ride on the shoulder of these highways. Is this common in certain parts of the country? I've never seen it until this trip.

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Old 06-11-04, 11:23 AM   #2
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A section of Inerstate 5 north of San Diego allows bicyclists on the shoulder. This is because there is no other access roads available for public use.
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Old 06-11-04, 11:48 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Fixer
A section of Inerstate 5 north of San Diego allows bicyclists on the shoulder. This is because there is no other access roads available for public use.
Within California there are several Interstate Highway shoulder segments on which bicycles are permitted. I have used the I-5 link between Gene"see and Sorrento Valley/Roselle many times, without ever feeling intimidated or endangered. Freeway shoulders tend to be fairly level, very wide, and well-maintained. As long as bikes can enter, continue, or exit without crossing the paths of fast-moving motor vehicles, freeway shoulders are among the safest bicycle facilities available, and the accident statistics dramatically support this contention. The San Diego County Bicycle Coalition is currently trying to secure freeway shoulder access on a critical link of I-805, but has met irrational resistance from Car-Trance (oops, that's "CalTrans").
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Old 06-11-04, 12:04 PM   #4
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John E. Pretty much said it all about biking in the west. I have done it several times..Can't say exactly that I like it..Seems after exiting, every time, I Get a flat...That gets old...But then local freeways are much more traveled than say if you are heading east towards Neavada or Arizona...
The noise of the traffic is just too great. The pull of the trucks, seems like it could almost pull you into the road at times.
When driving east through the desert, I have seen caravans of cyclist heading east...The rule, if you have no other option for biking , you can use the freeways. At least for California...In the desert, you often have no other option..I recall seeing many a cyclist on the freeways of Arizona , too..
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Old 06-11-04, 12:42 PM   #5
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Colorado and New Mexico are states where you'll travel stretches on Interstate hyws I25 and I70 because of no available frontage road.
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Old 06-11-04, 01:42 PM   #6
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It's legal almost everywhere in Oregon to ride on limited access roads ('freeways') except in statute-defined areas within greater Portland and perhaps a few other stretches of road inside other larger cities (and there's not to many of those in Oregon outside of Portland).
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Old 06-11-04, 02:53 PM   #7
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As far as I know it's prohibited on I-15 in Utah, I know it is in northern, not sure about southern. Most of the highways that run east-west through the souther portion of the state allow bicycling though.
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Old 06-11-04, 05:44 PM   #8
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FYI: South Carolina prohibits bicycles on all interstate highways, but there is almost always a paralell route. The old US 15/301 bridge over Lake Marion was left up after it was condemed from highway traffic next to I-95 between 101 and 99 mile markers to allow for pedisirian and bicycle traffic. Otherwise, the detour would take an extra day of riding.
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Old 06-11-04, 06:39 PM   #9
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In Montana I believe it's legal everywhere. There's nowhere else to ride between cities. When I lived there briefly in the '80s I was told by a local that this was the land of the free and home of the brave, unlike in the East!
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Old 06-12-04, 06:33 AM   #10
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To me, it is all about access to public roads, freedom of mobility, and reasonable alternate routes. If there is a good lower-speed parallel route, such as a frontage road, I will generally select it, instead of the freeway, but too often, particularly between cities, there simply is no acceptable alternate route.

The worst elements of most freeways are the pedestrian-and-bicycle-hostile free merges, diverges, or right turns with which too many of their access ramps meet the rest of the roadway system.
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Old 06-12-04, 06:39 AM   #11
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It is prohibited in Va. and Tx. In Tx. I have been told by DPS that you cannot even ride on the access road since it is "part of the interstate."
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Old 06-14-04, 04:18 AM   #12
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Here in Australia Queensland (not surprisingly) is the only state that actually prohibits it. Having said that, I've done it on numerous occasions regardless. About the only thing that prevents me from doing it more often is the boredom associated with staring at eight lanes of traffic for a sustained period of time.
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Old 06-14-04, 06:35 AM   #13
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FWIW it's prohibited here in Illinois and I think Wisconsin also ... but there are alot of state hwy's and other older roads between most points A & B. Here, the few times I've seen them, the shoulders are a mess of broken glass, metal and other debris. It would not be a choice spot for bike tires.
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Old 06-14-04, 11:05 AM   #14
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If I'm not mistaken cyclists are allowed to ride on the interstate in South Dakota. The reason is there are not enough rural roads & highways to ride on between the towns.

In Iowa cyclists are prohibited from riding on the interstate or an other highway that has a posted minimum speed limit. But Iowa also has several & a very extensive state & county highway system that allows cyclists easy access to all of the towns & cities in the state.

What part of South Dakota were you in? What interstate?
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Old 06-14-04, 11:33 AM   #15
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Here in Washington It is legal outside the larger urban areas. Never do it though I prefer the scenery of the side roads.
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Old 06-14-04, 03:01 PM   #16
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Here in Tennessee it is illegal to ride on an interstate highway. With that said there are all kinds of 4 lane limited access highways with 65-70 mph. speed limits that are designated bike routes! Now for the life of me I can't see what the difference is! For instance US 51 between Union City and Troy is a bike route. It is an older 4 lane, not limited access, and with a narrow 2 foot or less shoulder!!!! This is one of the few roads that scare the crap outa me, so I don't ride it. The newer 4 lanes between UC and towns to the East and North East have link ups that are just like an interstate, limited access, 70 mph. I feel perfectly safe on the shoulders, 4-5 feet wide, most with a rumble strip between you and the traffic. Now I perfer back roads, but I have noticed that on the big roads the hills are long and shallow, verses short and steep with more of them, but there are not DOGS to contend with either!
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Old 06-14-04, 04:08 PM   #17
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Here in NV the law is that if there are no other available roads (such is the case in many spots around Reno) then you can use the freeway and there will be a "bikes must exit" sign when a good route is then available. Did that yesterday on my first 40 mile ride. What a rush!
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Old 06-14-04, 04:15 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ngateguy
Here in Washington It is legal outside the larger urban areas. Never do it though I prefer the scenery of the side roads.
Just to expound upon what ngateguy said, it's legal to ride on all state roads in Washington with exception of the sections listed in this webpage. I agree that the scenery on the smaller roads is usually better but sometimes there's no real good way to get through the mountains other than to take the expressway.
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Old 06-15-04, 09:05 AM   #19
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I recall CO actually had marked bike lanes on the interstate-----but its been quite while('93) since I've ventured out that way---so could have changed for all I know.

Man---maybe its time for a road trip-----hhhhhmmm 4th of July weekend is coming up.
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Old 06-15-04, 11:53 AM   #20
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The only bicycles I have ever seen on a section of I-5 north of Los Angeles were stopped by high way patrolmen who appear to me to be writing a ticket. That section I know did permit bicycles but I am sure if the patroolmen didn't know that, they would issue a ticket in spite of all your arguing.
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Old 06-15-04, 12:12 PM   #21
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Wow, I'm from good ole' Ohio, and was completely unaware that people were ever allowed to ride on an interstate. However, it never really entered my train of thought that there may be no other option...(plenty of options here...)
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Old 06-15-04, 01:15 PM   #22
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In New York you can ride on Parkways, but not Expressways. ALL trucks are forbidden on Parkways also.
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Old 06-15-04, 01:50 PM   #23
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I can't think of any place in WI where it's allowed. I also can't think of any place in WI that's not just as easily, or more easily, accessible by surface roads. I don't quite get this idea of places that don't have surface road access. I mean, this country had a pretty-much complete network of surface roads long before the Interstate system was even started. Are there places that people go to now, that they simply didn't go to before the Interstate system? Or were the surface road accesses taken out when the Interstates were put in, in these cases?
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Old 06-15-04, 02:03 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madpogue
I can't think of any place in WI where it's allowed. I also can't think of any place in WI that's not just as easily, or more easily, accessible by surface roads. I don't quite get this idea of places that don't have surface road access. I mean, this country had a pretty-much complete network of surface roads long before the Interstate system was even started. Are there places that people go to now, that they simply didn't go to before the Interstate system? Or were the surface road accesses taken out when the Interstates were put in, in these cases?

There are plenty of places (at least in the west/southwest) where you can go hundreds of miles on a freeway and have nothing else but dirt access roads to camp grounds and little 200 people po-dunk towns.
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Old 06-15-04, 02:06 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madpogue
Are there places that people go to now, that they simply didn't go to before the Interstate system? Or were the surface road accesses taken out when the Interstates were put in, in these cases?
Consider the area around Seattle. If you want to travel east of the Cascades, you have to do it through the passes. These passes are only accessable via major highways. The Snoqualmie Pass just east of me is only accessable by way of I-90 although there is a tunnel that can be taken if you're on the old Ironhorse Trail. That trail is however unpaved.
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