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Bridges across the Ohio River that allow bicycles?

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Bridges across the Ohio River that allow bicycles?

Old 06-01-23, 04:23 PM
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mev
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Bridges across the Ohio River that allow bicycles?

I have found a list of crossings of the Ohio River - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_crossings_of_the_Ohio_River

I am trying to understand which crossings allow a bicycle to cross? I am most interested in the Ohio/West Virginia connection but others are welcome.

A number of years ago, I cycled from Cincinnati to Pittsburgh following the Ohio River up until Pennsylvania. I mostly followed the KY and WV side of the river. Any parts where it makes more sense to follow the Ohio side and/or crossing points?
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Old 06-01-23, 04:50 PM
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I'm more familiar with the downstream areas, which isn't saying much.

There's one at Cincinnati (the Purple People Bridge); I'd guess you could ride it as long as you don't run over anyone.

I haven't been over the river at Louisville for years, but I think there were plans to convert an old bridge there.

The U.S. highway bridges at Evansville, IN and Paducah, KY might be legal, but IMHO they'd be suicidal to bicycle.

Of course there's the ferry the Trans Am takes at Cave in Rock, IL -- that one's fun to ride!

Last edited by pdlamb; 06-02-23 at 07:30 AM. Reason: Corrected Evanston to Evansville -- I always get those two mixed up. :(
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Old 06-01-23, 06:06 PM
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I have ridden over in Louisville.
The old Big Four railroad bridge is now a maghificent bike/ped crossing.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Four_Bridge

In western Kentucky, the US 45 bridge at Brookport is terrifying.
20 feet wide - for both lanes and open metal grate deck.
Known locally as "The Blue Monster".

The Cairo Ohio River Bridge is also 20 feet wide.
But you don't have to look straight down to your death.
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Old 06-02-23, 01:46 PM
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Originally Posted by mev
I have found a list of crossings of the Ohio River - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List...the_Ohio_River

I am trying to understand which crossings allow a bicycle to cross? I am most interested in the Ohio/West Virginia connection but others are welcome.

A number of years ago, I cycled from Cincinnati to Pittsburgh following the Ohio River up until Pennsylvania. I mostly followed the KY and WV side of the river. Any parts where it makes more sense to follow the Ohio side and/or crossing points?
The Purple People Bridge connecting Kentucky to Cincinnati is fine to ride on. I've done it. It's a pedestrian/bicycle only bridge. No motor vehicles allowed.

The bridge connecting Hawesville, Kentucky to Cannelton, Indiana (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lincoln_Trail_Bridge) is fine. I rode it earlier this year. Traffic is slow and usually there's not much of it.

I live in Henderson, Kentucky, and the bridge connecting Henderson to Evansville, Indiana is absolutely terrible. I'd say it's impossible/suicidal to ride a bike on, except that my wife talked to a guy last year who claimed to have ridden across it on a quiet Sunday morning. It's actually two two-lane bridges (known locally as the "Twin Bridges"), and carries very fast, very heavy traffic - similar to an interstate. There's not a useable shoulder.

The bridge connecting Old Shawneetown, Illinois to Union County, Kentucky (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shawneetown_Bridge) is ok. I've done it two or three times on bike tours. It's narrow, but every time I've done it, it wasn't too bad.

The ferry at Cave-in-Rock, Illinois is a great way to cross the Ohio River. I've done it many times. It's on the TransAmerica Trail. Unlike a lot of other ferries, this one maintains a pretty reliable schedule.
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Old 06-02-23, 02:46 PM
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Thank you for bridge info so far. I have a special aversion to steel decking and the Brockport Bridge looks like it goes on and on. No thank you.

Looks like the Pomeroy OH - Mason WV bridge also has a not very wide pedestrian walkway. Still exploring my alternatives. One thing I was thinking was a more extended ride along the Ohio from Cincinnati to Charleston WV (and taking Amtrak back). Another was a more direct Columbus to Charleston WV ride (and renting a car for the return). On the Columbus/Charleston ride, looks like Google Maps directs me over the Pomeroy/Mason bridge.
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Old 06-03-23, 01:37 AM
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Google maps is not a good choice for primary routing. I can suggest going over to Crazyguyonabike or RideWithGPS. Nothing is new and I bet someone has done this similar idea.
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Old 06-03-23, 03:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Teamdarb
Google maps is not a good choice for primary routing. I can suggest going over to Crazyguyonabike or RideWithGPS. Nothing is new and I bet someone has done this similar idea.
I am not using Google Maps as primary routing. Instead, I am using it as an indicator of bridges to investigate further with Street View. Similar fashion to how one might use strava heat maps, RideWithGPS or Komoot as other indicators. However, also posted since I suspect this type of thing is where people closer to the area have common knowledge with a limited number of crossings.

I have cycled the Ohio River from Louisville KY to Wheeling WV a number of years in the past (https://mvermeulen.org/westvirginia/index.php), I just didn't remember the bridges to cross or not cross.

I have found quirks with any of the indicators. For example
- Strava heat maps one needs to watch out for special situations (e.g. Mackinac Bridge in Michigan or Hatem Bridge in Maryland only open special times).
- RideWithGPS will also avoid certain roads, e.g. parts of US 6 in Connecticut or even many parts of my Ohio River route that I rode along the river from Louisville to Wheeling so have first-hand knowledge from previous trip.
- Google bicycle routing does quirky stuff for paths but seems to be OK on restricted areas. Google auto routing w/o freeways+ferries does better routes in general but then misses roads/bridges truly closed to bicycles, etc.
- First hand accounts/journals (including mine) can get dated.
However, these can be good points to investigate further.

The Google Maps comment was made in context of if you asked it for a bicycle route from Gallipolis Ohio to Point Pleasant West Virginia it does not send you across the US-35 bridge - That still doesn't tell me whether the US 35 bridge is allowed (Google Street View suggests a major highway and not much shoulder so at least not pleasant) but it does give an indicator to check out the Pomeroy/Mason Bridge as a good alternative to consider and otherwise make routing decisions (than come to the US-35 and discover one needs a different method of crossing than riding a bike across).

So my comment was less about routing and more about finding indicators of bridges to cross (both allowed and reasonable cycling). For example, if I come from Columbus to Charleston - making a plan that crosses the Ohio at Pomeroy seems to work and at Gallipolis might take extra steps. The other routing can use other tools.

For what it is worth, this post: https://www.bikeforums.net/touring/1272326-route-planner.html#post22889464 describes my use of different tools in routing.

Last edited by mev; 06-03-23 at 06:39 AM.
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Old 06-03-23, 08:30 AM
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EDIT-- I see you know about the heat maps, but I'll leave this post up anyway.
I liked your link to your planning methods.

Heat Maps!
When I'm working on routes in unfamiliar areas, cycling Heat Maps are really helpful.
These color in roads based on rider activity. The most popular roads are brightly colored.

I also use it to avoid rarely ridden roads with nearby popular roads. Cyclists are avoid those.
Some roads might be the fastest way out of town, or part of an event ride, or otherwise ridden a lot, but not the best choice for a solo rider. And some roads are gravel, popular with gravel cyclists. Or it's the local steep epic hill that riders want to try. Street view if available or satellite view is helpful if I have doubts.

No color at all on road, even zoomed way in: if it's not a dead end road, there's a serious reason why there's no cyclist activity at all. Even very obscure roads have at least a little activity.

Strava Heat Map
I think this is zoom restricted for free strava logins now. (I have the subscription.)
For example, here is SE Ohio, the Marietta area. A screenshot from my 4K monitor -- I normally zoom in more than this.

Strava also has a Route Builder for subscribers that prefers popular roads. It's a good start for a completely new route -- I just click the start and end, or maybe a midpoint or two. It often makes a reasonably good route.

Heatmap settings: Labels=On. town and road names. Color=Hot. it makes a dark background with dim red=low popularity, bright white=most popular.
The colors recalc as I zoom in, so that rural areas still show colors, even though they have way less riding that cities.

Both the Marietta and Parkersburg bridges are popular crossings. And what looks like a modern bridge west of Parkersburg.
You can see which side of the river is more popular with cyclists too.




ridwithgps.com heat maps
You can create routes with the free version, but the paid subscription adds heat maps, both "global"--everyone's rides/routes, and/or "personal"--where I've routed/ridden.

So: why is E Ohio way less popular than roads north of Marietta? I'm guessing that it's due to having only a few roads heading E-W. They might be annoying to ride with more traffic. And there's only a few crossroad towns in the area, and it's hilly. And note that Rt 676 to Watertown is way more popular than Rt 550 to Barlow.


Last edited by rm -rf; 06-03-23 at 08:34 AM.
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Old 06-03-23, 08:53 AM
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"So my comment was less about routing and more about finding indicators of bridges to cross (both allowed and reasonable cycling). For example, if I come from Columbus to Charleston - making a plan that crosses the Ohio at Pomeroy seems to work and at Gallipolis might take extra steps. The other routing can use other tools."

Yeah, zooming in near Gallipolis, the US-35 bridge has no cyclist activity. StreetView doesn't show any "no cyclists / vehicles under 5 hp" sign at the ramp. But the bridge is 4 lanes with no shoulder at all, and freeway speeds.

Riders do cross at Pomeroy. But crossing over, that big bend in the river has very low cyclist activity on Strava, although it has some activity on rwgps. I wonder why. It might be great, with very low traffic. or maybe there's reasons that cyclists don't go there.
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Old 06-03-23, 10:17 AM
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Itís been more than 10 years but I crossed the Ohio at the Robert C. Byrd bridge in Huntington, WV , the Newport Southbank bridge (aka the Purple People Bridge) in Cincinnati, The John A, Roebling Bridge in Cincinnati (pedestrian walk with stairs at the end), and the SR101 Indiana bridge over the Ohio near Florence, IN. Although not technically the ďOhioĒ River, Iíve crossed the Monongahela at Point State Park, PA a few yards before it combines with the Allengheny River to form the Ohio about 8 years ago. Thereís a bridge over the Alengheny to the north as well. The Mckees Rocks Bridge and West End Bridge also seems to have pedestrian crossings on them but it doesnít look like itís easy to get to the access points.
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Old 06-03-23, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by mev
Thank you for bridge info so far. I have a special aversion to steel decking and the Brockport Bridge looks like it goes on and on. No thank you.

Looks like the Pomeroy OH - Mason WV bridge also has a not very wide pedestrian walkway. Still exploring my alternatives. One thing I was thinking was a more extended ride along the Ohio from Cincinnati to Charleston WV (and taking Amtrak back). Another was a more direct Columbus to Charleston WV ride (and renting a car for the return). On the Columbus/Charleston ride, looks like Google Maps directs me over the Pomeroy/Mason bridge.
Somehow in my previous post I forgot the two Ohio River bridges I'm most familiar with: The two bridges between Maysville, Kentucky and Aberdeen, Ohio.

The Simon Kenton Memorial Bridge is the older of the two. The two traffic lanes are narrow, but there is an elevated pedestrian walkway. The walkway is not too wide, but you can walk your bike across it. I used to ride on it (carefully), but it's so narrow you can't meet anyone walking on it. I've also ridden across the bridge in the traffic lanes several times, but in retrospect that probably wasn't a great idea.

There's also a new, modern, wide bridge a few miles out of town with very wide shoulders. It's nothing special to look at it (compared to the Simon Kenton bridge, which is very scenic), but it's the safe choice for crossing the Ohio River at Maysville.
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Old 06-03-23, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by rm -rf
Strava Heat Map
I think this is zoom restricted for free strava logins now. (I have the subscription.)
I have a Strava account, but not a subscription. The behavior I see is that when I am logged in, I can zoom all the way down. When I am not logged in, there is a limit to how far one can zoom.

The heat maps are definitely an additional way to sample things including bridges. In the case of Charleston/Columbus they do show an interesting phenomenon. As far as I can tell, there are three general "corridors" to approach Charleston from the North West: one comes from Huntington roughly with I-64, the second follows the river from Charleston and parallels US 35, the third comes from the north and parallels I-77.

The I-77 corridor seems to be least popular. There isn't much of a connection via Pomeroy or Ravenswood. The Huntington/Charleston direction has a variety of roads in the network.

However, the middle one (US-35) seems more intriguing. I see a fairly bright line going into Point Pleasant but then it stops there- it might correspond to the the Rivers to Ridges heritage trail to Nitro - https://riverstoridges.com/). I also see a reasonable track on the Ohio side of the river going into Gallipolis. So folks are either riding the Ohio side or the Heritage trail but perhaps not crossing over to do both - or they are participating in the Rivers to Ridges race series and recording their event.

I also have a RideWithGPS account and a paid subscription and use the heat maps in those cases.
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Old 06-05-23, 05:01 PM
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In Cincinnati, the Taylor Southgate and Clay Wade Bailey bridges are also rideable, preferably when traffic is light. The Anderson Ferry west of the city is also an option.

On the other side of the state, the Market st bridge in Steubenville is an option if youíre heading to/from Pittsburgh, but itís not great. Roadway is metal grate, and the solid pedestrian walkway has stairs on one end.
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