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What's the law about riding on this road?

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What's the law about riding on this road?

Old 12-14-11, 12:03 PM
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Unreasonable
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What's the law about riding on this road?

So where I live, I ride to school down Rt. 116. Like many major routes, it goes through small towns with speeds as low as 30 and has portions similar to grade separated highways with speeds of 60. Here's a picture of where the road changes.

Anyway, like I said, part of 116 goes through small towns and is perfect for relaxed riding. It then turns into a 50mph road, but it has big shoulders for riding and still goes through small towns (that's all there really is in western Mass.). However, continuing down the road it turns into a real highway, 2 lanes in each direction with grades for intersecting streets. It's still just state Route 116, though.

If you're riding straight onto it from the slower area, at no point does it have signage indicating that bicycles aren't allowed. The only place where there is the normal "no pedestrians, bicycles, horses" sign is on the two onramps that put cars onto the "highway section" from slower roads.

So what exactly is the law about this? Does it depend where I ride it on? Am I just not allowed to use the on ramps? It probably won't change what I do, but I am curious about this.
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Old 12-14-11, 12:06 PM
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I would probably ask the state transportation department. Many states do allow riding on certain freeways. It does however vary considerably.
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Old 12-14-11, 12:29 PM
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One grade separated junction does not a fully controlled access facility make.

Clearly the DOT is planning ahead to make the facility fully controlled access, and is constructing new junctions to that standard, including the standard signage. But they haven't upgraded the rest of the road to that standard, and so it's silly to try to prohibit bicyclists from the road. The wide paved shoulders most likely increase the safety of cycling on the road enough to compensate for the elevated speeds.

Different states have different definitions for exactly what kind of facility is prohobited to cyclists. Here in NC, the definition is fully controlled access, which that MA road is not. But MA law is defined in terms of required signage prohibiting use. I'd ask a lawyer if the failure of the state to post a sign on the route you take through that one grade-separated junction protects you.
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Old 12-14-11, 01:59 PM
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You should submit your question to http://bikesafeboston.com/. Bicycle lawyer in Boston.
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Old 12-15-11, 04:00 PM
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Unless there is a convenient alternative, I would just keep riding on it until told otherwise. My last trip to CO I rode I-70 from Frisco to Georgetown. That was a blast.
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Old 12-15-11, 04:34 PM
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I ditto what all others have said.

But, I hate riding on highways that have on/off ramps. At highway speeds with even moderate traffic, they are dangerous, in my experience. I don't get nervous riding on the shoulder of a highway, city streets, just about any normal traffic situation - not at all. But crossing (pedaling straight) through an off ramp, or even a right turn lane on a 50+ mph highway makes me very nervous. On ramps, quite a bit less nervous. On one such highway I ride, I just go down the off ramp and back up the on ramp. (this is a "diamond" type interection, not a "cloverleaf" type.).

I don't get nervous if the traffic is really light though, especially if it's light enough so I can pretty much hear and also quickly observe individual cars coming up from behind. Heavy traffic with a lot of cars, some of which signal their turn late or not at all- makes me nervous.
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Old 12-15-11, 07:18 PM
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Since you obviously have www access, look up the various towns along the routes you question, and the state website. Most post the laws, and they are pretty accurate most of the time. It may take you all of an hour, and you will be better armed against the ignorant. "Knowledge trumps opinion."

I know that all 50 recognize equal right/responsibility on the road for bikes, but locals can monkey-wrench it in a blink....
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Old 12-15-11, 07:21 PM
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Local question, answers vary by state and city sometimes. In Texas, if there is no sign prohibiting bicycles then it is ok to ride the shoulder. If no shoulder is available ok to occupy the right lane. Cars must give 3 feet of clearance.
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Old 12-15-11, 10:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Unreasonable View Post
So where I live, I ride to school down Rt. 116. Like many major routes, it goes through small towns with speeds as low as 30 and has portions similar to grade separated highways with speeds of 60. Here's a picture of where the road changes.

Anyway, like I said, part of 116 goes through small towns and is perfect for relaxed riding. It then turns into a 50mph road, but it has big shoulders for riding and still goes through small towns (that's all there really is in western Mass.). However, continuing down the road it turns into a real highway, 2 lanes in each direction with grades for intersecting streets. It's still just state Route 116, though.

If you're riding straight onto it from the slower area, at no point does it have signage indicating that bicycles aren't allowed. The only place where there is the normal "no pedestrians, bicycles, horses" sign is on the two onramps that put cars onto the "highway section" from slower roads.

So what exactly is the law about this? Does it depend where I ride it on? Am I just not allowed to use the on ramps? It probably won't change what I do, but I am curious about this.
This is one law at the MGL(Mass. Gen. Laws) website: http://www.malegislature.gov/Laws/Ge...r85/Section11b

That is for the state.

Not knowing what county or city you reside in, I can't look up the county and city regulations.

Also, If someone else can find it, I can't find anything as to what roads a cyclist can not be on, pursuant to a posted speed limit.

Last edited by Chris516; 12-15-11 at 10:59 PM.
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Old 12-16-11, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Camilo View Post
But, I hate riding on highways that have on/off ramps. At highway speeds with even moderate traffic, they are dangerous, in my experience. I don't get nervous riding on the shoulder of a highway, city streets, just about any normal traffic situation - not at all. But crossing (pedaling straight) through an off ramp, or even a right turn lane on a 50+ mph highway makes me very nervous. On ramps, quite a bit less nervous. On one such highway I ride, I just go down the off ramp and back up the on ramp. (this is a "diamond" type interection, not a "cloverleaf" type.).

I don't get nervous if the traffic is really light though, especially if it's light enough so I can pretty much hear and also quickly observe individual cars coming up from behind. Heavy traffic with a lot of cars, some of which signal their turn late or not at all- makes me nervous.
Interesting; I get more nervous at high speed on-ramps than simple off-ramps, because on-ramp drivers are often looking behind and into their blind spot when merging, while simple off-ramp drivers have no reason to look away from what is ahead of them. The worst are dual on/off ramps where on-ramp drivers are trying to merge left as off-ramp drivers are trying to merge right.

At simple off-ramps and simple on-ramps, I either ride in the center of the right through lane (if it seems narrow) or along the right side of the right through lane (if it seems wide). Once I am beyond the merge and diverge points I will move back over to the wide paved shoulder if one exists.

I find this easy to do if traffic is light (I suspect it is usually light on the road referenced by the OP) and not very difficult in slower traffic (say, under 40 mph) but a combination of high speeds and high volumes is undesirable. I ride through the US1/64 interchange in Cary a couple of times per week as one alternate bike commute route or after dropping off my car for repair. The ramp traffic is usually light enough that I can align myself with a large gap in ramp traffic by modulating my speed. The road I use was once intended to be fully controlled access but the state doesn't have money to convert all the intersections to fully controlled access, nor to build usable alternative surface street routes that cross the same freeway and water body barriers that this road does, so cyclists are stuck riding through a few interchanges in order to ride east-west in this corridor.
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Old 12-16-11, 03:29 PM
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You may want to shoot and email to meryl.mandell@state.ma.us to check. Meryl is the DOT bicycle district coordinator for that area, I believe.

While I do not have an online resource I can point you to: my copy of the MassDOT published bicycle mapway indicates that that stretch of 116, from the north to where it joins with Rt 9 and turns east before heading south again toward Springfield, is acceptable for bicycle travel. BUT the on/off ramps to N. Hadley Road ARE NOT. The interchange to the combined section at Rt 9 is acceptable for bicycle travel.

So it appears as you say: that you can continue on Rt 116 (despite it becoming what would be classified as an express state highway or limited access highway), however, you just cannot gain access/egress to/from it from N.Hadley Road....which leads directly into the UMass campus. Again there has to be specific and explicit signage prohibiting bicycle traffic.

The interchange at Rt 63, to the north, appears to be fully bicycle negotiable, and is perhaps the better route in and out of campus anyhow.

HTH
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Last edited by zac; 12-16-11 at 03:32 PM.
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Old 12-16-11, 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Chris516 View Post
This is one law at the MGL(Mass. Gen. Laws) website: http://www.malegislature.gov/Laws/Ge...r85/Section11b

That is for the state.

Not knowing what county or city you reside in, I can't look up the county and city regulations.

Also, If someone else can find it, I can't find anything as to what roads a cyclist can not be on, pursuant to a posted speed limit.
Chris, Mass does not so restrict by speed, only access. And as you correctly referenced MGL ch.85 sec.11b prohibits bicycle travel on "...limited access or express state highways where signs specifically prohibiting bicycles have been posted..."

Basically, all US interstates in Mass are prohibited, as they are in most states, as well as a couple of State routes, especially around more urban areas. State Rt. 2 is another notable stretch that prohibits bicycle travel, pretty much from US 495 to US 91, as are several connector and by-pass routes. There are also many, many clover-leaf style interchanges whose on/off ramps prohibit bicycle travel, despite the intersecting routes themselves allowing bicycle travel! So you would have to find a nearby local road to make your route change if that is what you wanted to do.
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Old 12-16-11, 04:46 PM
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What amazes me about that area is that it is simultaneously bike friendly and unfriendly. Lots of bike paths and some good back roads, but the nasty section of Route 9 and the section of 116 that you are concerned about. I would suggest that you just use the side roads, but then how would you get to Bub's? If a cop stops you just say you are coming from, or going to there; they will understand.

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Old 12-16-11, 05:00 PM
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I used to ride on an interstate as my default training ride when I lived in Utah. The law of maximum inconvenience dictates that a motor vehicle will overtake just as you need to cross an on/off ramp. If there was a possibility of a car catching me at the ramp, I always went down the shoulder a ways until I could cross at 90 degree angle.

Most roads that change from bike access to no bikes allowed will have a sign advising cyclists to exit. However, i have always figured that if the on-ramp says no bikes, that is a pretty good hint that they just didn't think about posting on the main road. Pleading ignorance will work pretty well in that situation, "how was I supposed to know?" I've actually only ridden illegally on an interstate one time. It was either ride many miles out of the way or ride one mile on a rural interstate with wide shoulders, that seemed like a no-brainer after a couple hundred miles on the bike. If you do the same thing every day, you will no doubt get to meet one of your state's fine law enforcement officers
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Old 12-16-11, 05:08 PM
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State laws vary. Here in AZ have ridden bike on Interstate 10, I-19 and I-17 for long distances.
If there is no sign prohibiting bikes, then ride it.
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Old 12-17-11, 01:33 AM
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Originally Posted by zac View Post
Chris, Mass does not so restrict by speed, only access. And as you correctly referenced MGL ch.85 sec.11b prohibits bicycle travel on "...limited access or express state highways where signs specifically prohibiting bicycles have been posted..."

Basically, all US interstates in Mass are prohibited, as they are in most states, as well as a couple of State routes, especially around more urban areas. State Rt. 2 is another notable stretch that prohibits bicycle travel, pretty much from US 495 to US 91, as are several connector and by-pass routes. There are also many, many clover-leaf style interchanges whose on/off ramps prohibit bicycle travel, despite the intersecting routes themselves allowing bicycle travel! So you would have to find a nearby local road to make your route change if that is what you wanted to do.
Thankyou for the update. I was beginning to think I didn't look hard enough when I couldn't find any laws relating to speed limits.

The interstate itself, is obvious. I was looking for more details like speed regulations and time of day.
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Old 12-18-11, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Speedo View Post
What amazes me about that area is that it is simultaneously bike friendly and unfriendly. Lots of bike paths and some good back roads, but the nasty section of Route 9 and the section of 116 that you are concerned about. I would suggest that you just use the side roads, but then how would you get to Bub's? If a cop stops you just say you are coming from, or going to there; they will understand.

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Haha, I do love Bub's. That part wasn't my concern, as it's the big shoulder area I was talking about. That's how I get to UMass from Sunderland.

Thanks for the info, Zac. That's exactly what I was looking for. Seems silly that I can use the road, just not the access ramps to the road. But I can understand the safety concern. Getting to UMass is easier not going that far down 116 anyway, so it's no concern to me.

Thanks again!
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