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Is it morally wrong to bike on a freeway to avoid a big detour?

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Is it morally wrong to bike on a freeway to avoid a big detour?

Old 08-03-09, 06:47 PM
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Is it morally wrong to bike on a freeway to avoid a big detour?

In some parts of our metropolitan area here in Minneapolis, there are some bridges that cross the Minnesota River, which are only accessible to cars, and the nearest legal alternative to cyclists is 7+ miles out of the way (15 miles round trip).

Do you folks have any qualms with cyclists who take the shoulder of a freeway bridge just to get over the river or some other natural boundary? Has anyone here ever actually tried it? Has anyone gotten in trouble for doing it?
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Old 08-03-09, 07:00 PM
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I guess it depends on if the road is a restricted access highway (what most of us call freeways). Legally, motorized vehicles over a specified size (horsepower or cc for motorized bikes) are the only vehicles allowed on these roads. I am a cyclist, and as a motorized vehicle driver, I have a huge problem with cyclists who ride on a freeway shoulder. The problem is two-fold. First, for the safety of the cyclist. Second, from a public relations standpoint, it doesn't do us much good when cyclists ride on the freeway.

Now, if you are just referring to a multi-lane highway which is not "restricted access," then I have no problem with your use of it. However, it may still pose a safety issue. Having not seen the area you are talking about, you will have to make that determination yourself.
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Old 08-03-09, 07:02 PM
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IMO not morally wrong but could be dangerous, or expensive if a cop sees you. Part of the problem is that if it is posted against bike use then drivers are not going to be looking for bicyclists as an expected hazard, increasing potential danger.

As the Minneapolis and St Paul area is supposed to be relatively bike friendly from what I have read then the local bike advocacy groups need to push for reasonable access to at least a couple of legal bridge crossings.

I am in Reno and from the edge of town through most of the Sierras ridiing a bike on the freeway sholder is legal as there is no reasonable alternative available. It is so sign posted at freeway entrances in the legal bicycle riding freeway sections.
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Old 08-03-09, 07:04 PM
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Just ride the extra 7+ miles.
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Old 08-03-09, 07:10 PM
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Is the road part of the Federal Interstate highway system? The legislation that established that system allows cyclists to use the roadway "when no other reasonable alternative exists". I can't remember the exact verbage, but I crried a copy of it when riding from Los Angeles to Las Vegas on I-15 about 14 years ago. California Highway Patrol were real a--holes about bikes on I-15, but the Nevada H.P. were pretty cool as long as you appeared to be safely riding on the shoulder (one stopped me and told me where to exit before getting to Las Vegas).

Even if you can use it, I'd be careful if there was insufficient shoulder width to safely ride a bicycle across it.
 
Old 08-03-09, 07:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Bob_in_Midland View Post
I guess it depends on if the road is a restricted access highway (what most of us call freeways). Legally, motorized vehicles over a specified size (horsepower or cc for motorized bikes) are the only vehicles allowed on these roads.
...
This depends on the rules in each particular state. In most western states (and some others) bikes are allowed to use the shoulders of some limited-access freeways. Usually, but not always, this is where there aren't any good alternates.

But even in these states there are frequently issues with bridge crossings. For example in the SF Bay area, the approach to the Richmond - San Rafael bridge on I-580 is bicycle-legal on the Richmond side but bikes are required to exit just before the bridge. Other bridges in the area are mixed wrt bike access: the Golden Gate has bike/ped access on separate walkways next to the roadway; the Dumbarton has a 2-way bike path on one side; the Antioch lets bikes use the roadway shoulder, the new Zampa (I-80) bridge has a bike/ped separated path, the Benicia (I-680) bridge will have a bike path open at the end of this month, and the Bay Bridge (I-80) does not yet have any bike/ped access.

If the bridge in question in Minneapolis is signed to prohibit bike access then my feeling is that the original poster won't save any time by using it. Pretty likely that someone would report seeing a bike on the bridge and that he'll be met on the other side by a patrol car.
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Old 08-03-09, 09:40 PM
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Originally Posted by pannierpacker View Post
Do you folks have any qualms with cyclists who take the shoulder of a freeway bridge just to get over the river or some other natural boundary? Has anyone here ever actually tried it? Has anyone gotten in trouble for doing it?
Nope. Done it myself plenty of times. I'm yet to receive a ticket, I'm yet to have a crash or suffer an injury from it, and indeed, I'm yet to encounter a single car driver that had a problem with it (despite the fact that they whine when I ride on suburban streets or arterials that don't attract the sort of attention these roads do). That said, if it's illegal in your jurisdiction and you have police that actually prosecute these things, you're risking a fine or points off your drivers' licence should you be caught.

Personally, I don't understand all the fuss about these roads anyway. Most of them have nice wide shoulders that are much safer to ride in than the majority of other roads that cyclists are quite free to ride on. I'm not sure why some people feel as though their property rights have somehow been violated because they have to share a public road (particularly such a wide road) with someone riding a bicycle.
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Old 08-03-09, 09:43 PM
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Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
If the bridge in question in Minneapolis is signed to prohibit bike access then my feeling is that the original poster won't save any time by using it. Pretty likely that someone would report seeing a bike on the bridge and that he'll be met on the other side by a patrol car.
That depends on the size of the bridge and the police response time. I think the most likely scenario is that some guy calls to say there's a bike on the bridge, the police arrive 15 minutes later, and about 10 minutes after the OP has finished crossing the bridge and moved on to somewhere else. The only real risk the OP has is if there's already a police officer there when he arrives. If you don't believe me, try reporting a breach of traffic law to a police officer yourself and see how much they actually do about it.
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Old 08-03-09, 10:04 PM
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I crossed the Mississippi River on a narrow shouldered interstate bridge one time. The nearest accessible bridge meant a detour of about 140 miles. I didn't have any moral problem with it, but I remember at the time I was wishing I'd taken the long way. Probably I was safer there than on the shoulderless state highways I'd been on, but it sure felt scary.
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Old 08-04-09, 06:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Chris L View Post
Personally, I don't understand all the fuss about these roads anyway. Most of them have nice wide shoulders that are much safer to ride in than the majority of other roads that cyclists are quite free to ride on. I'm not sure why some people feel as though their property rights have somehow been violated because they have to share a public road (particularly such a wide road) with someone riding a bicycle.
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Old 08-04-09, 04:21 PM
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I live in Minneapolis/St Paul - which bridge(s) are you talking about? Most bridges I know of have a dedicated walk/bike section built into them, separated from the freeway by a concrete barrier. So I'm curious which bridge doesn't...
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Old 08-04-09, 10:14 PM
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Originally Posted by PaulRivers View Post
I live in Minneapolis/St Paul - which bridge(s) are you talking about? Most bridges I know of have a dedicated walk/bike section built into them, separated from the freeway by a concrete barrier. So I'm curious which bridge doesn't...
I am talking about the 35W bridge where it crosses the Minnesota River and also the Highway 77 Bridge where it crosses the Minnesota River. Currently there are no bike/ped crossings at these locations.
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Old 08-05-09, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by pannierpacker View Post
I am talking about the 35W bridge where it crosses the Minnesota River and also the Highway 77 Bridge where it crosses the Minnesota River. Currently there are no bike/ped crossings at these locations.
I looked into both those locations, and was encouraged by this entry on wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cedar_Avenue_Bridge_(Minnesota_River)
"The original Old Cedar Avenue Bridge was built in 1890 and carried automobile traffic into the 1990s. The narrow span continued operation as a bicycle trail until 2002 when it was deemed too unsafe. In 2008, $2 million in state funding was approved to reopen the bridge to bicyclists and pedestrians."

So I drove down there to see over lunch. But sadly, this supposed funding doesn't seem to have gone anywhere as the old bridge that used to be a bike path down there is still very, very closed with planks deliberately pulled out at the start, big signs, and fencing covering the entire entrance to keep people out. :-(

The highway bridge itself *might* be passable - there appears to be a shoulder wide enough for an extra lane of traffic on both sides, going both ways, for the entire length of the bridge:
http://www.bing.com/maps/default.asp...6376&encType=1
(I also saw it in person). However, the wikipeida entry says "The modern bridge has three lanes in each direction, in addition to a shoulder which is often used by buses to get past traffic slowdowns."

So I don't know that you would want to be biking on the should when a bus comes along. Plus, I think I'd rather bike 7 miles out of my way every day rather than going through the nerve racking experience of biking along side 55-70mph highway traffic.

Seems like getting on and off the bridge would be difficult, though not impossible, to as there are freeway ramps near each end of the bridge with a tiny shoulder for them. I suppose it would possible to bike on the grass next to it if you're really determined.


I also took the time the check out the 35w bridge you mentioned, which sadly also does not have a ped/bike lane built into the bridge.

It's also completely and utterly impassible on bike. Southbound at least, there is absolutely no shoulder over the bridge. None. Sat photos show a shoulder, but evidentally it's been redone because there's no should there now, instead there's one more lane for traffic. The wikipedia page for the bridge mentions something about expanding the lanes on the bridge:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I-35W_M...a_River_bridge

Northbound there's still a shoulder, but not only would you have even worse on/off ramp issues, not to mention it being illegal to ride on an interstate highway, and I saw constructions crews messing with signs so I would wonder if they're going to expand to an extra northbound lane over the bridge where the shoulder is now.


It appears that if you want to cross the Minnesota river on bike on a decent bike route, you have to either use the 494 bridge which has a separated ped/bike lane built into it, or go all the way west nearly to 169 south where there's a bike bridge built over the river:
http://www.bing.com/maps/default.asp...3929&encType=1

...though that isn't great either, as part of the path on the south side of the river floods when the river gets to high in the spring.

Dang it, now I'm all bummed!

To people reading this, has anyone tried actually biking over the hwy 77 / Cedar Ave bridge?
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Old 08-05-09, 02:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Bob_in_Midland View Post
I am a cyclist, and as a motorized vehicle driver, I have a huge problem with cyclists who ride on a freeway shoulder. The problem is two-fold. First, for the safety of the cyclist. Second, from a public relations standpoint, it doesn't do us much good when cyclists ride on the freeway.
My feelings exactly. If it is restricted access, and illegal, bikes have no business on the freeway.
And for all the talk of cars being unsafe and lawless, it would be downright hypocritical (ie, morally wrong) to bike where bikes are forbidden.
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Old 08-05-09, 02:36 PM
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You're stupid to ride on a freeway. 18-wheelers travelling at 120km/h can generate alot of crosswind drafts that will push you off balance either to the side or worse onto the lane where the following vehicle will promptly turn you into a bicycle patty. Don't do it. Ride the extra detour. It's good for you.
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Old 08-05-09, 03:12 PM
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I don't consider riding a bike on the freeway a moral question; it's mostly a legal and safety question. And it can be done.
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Old 08-05-09, 03:30 PM
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I did a summer MB ride a few years ago out of Wallace Idaho up to the Lookout Pass Ski Area. Started out on the rail trail with warm weather and bright sunny skies. Half way up the 10 mile climb I heard a little peal of thunder. Few miles later the clouds were moving over the mountains. Once I hit the ski lodge it started comming down in buckets, with strong winds, heavy rain, hail and lighting. There was rapids comming down the slope and the people who have worked there said it's the worst they have ever seen. Hung out at the lodge for a few hours, ate a burger had some coffee and it was still raining. It was getting time for me to make a decision, try to head back down on the rail trail and hope it wasn't washed out or take the highway. Well I took the highway which is a 6 mile steep down hill. It was still wet and lightly raining when I was going down the on ramp and I hit 50MPH plus going down the hill. Half way down it was dry as a bone and when I pulled off at Mullen there was clear blue sky and black clouds obscured Lookout mountain. So in this case I didn't really have a choice but to take the highway. Really wide shoulder and the traffic was light so I had no problems with drivers.
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Old 08-05-09, 03:45 PM
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Originally Posted by annc View Post
I don't consider riding a bike on the freeway a moral question; it's mostly a legal and safety question. And it can be done.
That unique case is the example you're going to provide for how "it can be done?"
Any bikes on a typical freeway rush hour are putting themselves in great danger.
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Old 08-05-09, 03:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Big M View Post
That unique case is the example you're going to provide for how "it can be done?"
Any bikes on a typical freeway rush hour are putting themselves in great danger.
No, I just thought it's a fun video to watch.

As for OP particular situation, it is the same as any other road. He'll need to weigh the legal and safety risks and consequences and decide for himself if it's worth the risk.
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Old 08-05-09, 04:09 PM
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morally? not even relevant?

legal? well.....be stealthy and ready! and just do what you feel is best....
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Old 08-05-09, 06:00 PM
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I can tell you it is not a lot of fun. Noisy, stinky and debris all over the shoulders. I had to ride the freeway into Santa Barbara because on the PCH there is not other option. I hated every mile. The only thing that made ir bearable was the view of the hills of Santa Barbara on one side of the highway and the ocean on the other.
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Old 08-05-09, 08:51 PM
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I biked on the highway 77 bridge to get from the MOA to Ironman bike ride start. The nearest non-freeway path I could find was an extra 20 miles, which I would have had to do again at the end. The shoulder is wide, but full of junk. Traffic was light so I can't help you if this is for a commute.

I have no moral problems with it when there is no reasonable alternative. But if I were planning to do it regularly, I would try to get it approved like some freeways here in CA.
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Old 08-05-09, 09:37 PM
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Originally Posted by annc View Post
No, I just thought it's a fun video to watch.

As for OP particular situation, it is the same as any other road. He'll need to weigh the legal and safety risks and consequences and decide for himself if it's worth the risk.
Exactly. It's the OP's decision and nobody else's. Those who want to complain about it or feel that their property rights have somehow been violated because someone rides a bike on a public roadway need to grow up.
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Old 08-05-09, 10:41 PM
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Originally Posted by annc View Post
I don't consider riding a bike on the freeway a moral question; it's mostly a legal and safety question.[/URL].
Back when I lived in San Diego, my commute took me across Lake Hodges into Escondido. (The last stage of this year's Tour of California was in this area). The only practical way to do this by bike was on the shoulder of Interstate 15. Nice, wide shoulder, and there are signs marking the way: http://www.efgh.com/bike/sesc.htm
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Old 08-05-09, 11:54 PM
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Originally Posted by wunderkind View Post
You're stupid to ride on a freeway. 18-wheelers travelling at 120km/h can generate alot of crosswind drafts that will push you off balance either to the side or worse onto the lane where the following vehicle will promptly turn you into a bicycle patty. Don't do it. Ride the extra detour. It's good for you.
My last experience on the highway I found 99.9% of the big rigs are now more aerodynamic for improved fuel efficiency and do not generate the kind of turbulence the used too but that one in a 1000 really wakes you up but I seriously doubt it can drag you across a 12' shoulder into the travel lane.

Here is a study that says freeways are fine to bicycle on: http://members.cox.net/ncutcdbtc/freeway/bkfwcr02.pdf
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