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Roads You Really Shouldn't Ride in North America

Old 09-28-23, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by DCwom
Funny, yes, but the NJ Turnpike has wide shoulders (not that it would be any fun, or legal), I find that the most scary roads are the slower roads with zero shoulders, and there are so so many of those.
Correct. Out here in the real 'Murica (west of the 100th meridian) there are many places which allow bicycles on interstates if necessary and sometimes always. The shoulders are the WIDEST lane on the whole thing. So I get a kick out of getting in I-5 here and there. I might add the huge amount of land on each side provides excellent camping spots.

AS for the other roads: I continue to claim: dollar for dollar the best expenditure in improving road safety for all users is install and/or widen shoulders.

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Old 09-28-23, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Brett A
Yes, riding the PacNW coast is not at all relaxing. I was not the only person out there considering changing plans and taking a more inland route, but time did not allow. The people who didn't seem to mind it were the Europeans. They seem to be used to squeezing on roadways with cars. The other people that might still want to brave it are people who haven't had much exposure to coastline. But I live on the east coast, so ocean isn't that rare. I would just recommend people see the coast by car or motorcycle and not by bicycle.

I define the coast ranges as everywhere from the "coast" to the I5 corridor. If you decide to "ride inland," there are quite a few roads that go north/south in this area, with many east-west roads necessary to jump from one to another. It makes for a lot of fun riding, and the heavily forested hills are excellent places for wild camping.

Just an example: If you turn in at Reedsport and go to Ekton, you can then go south on minor roads in the hills west of I-5 through small towns like Mack Brown and Lookingglass. You can take the Coos Bay Waggon road from lookingglass all the way back west (parts are unpaved) to Hamlets like Dora and over to Myrtle Point. I find hilly forested regions the most interesting and useful for cycling, since a dash into the forest provides you a camping spot. There are everything from recent clearcuts to areas replanted 40-50 years ago, so it is a interesting lesson on the process of reforestation and how much time and effort it takes. As always, ask the locals. They know a lot about old routes, dirt bike trails, and such.
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Old 09-28-23, 01:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Roughstuff
Correct. Out here in the real ******* (west of the 100th meridian) there are many places which allow bicycles on interstates if necessary and sometimes always. The shoulders are the WIDEST lane on the whole thing. So I get a kick out of getting in I-5 here and there. I might add the huge amount of land on each side provides excellent camping spots.

AS for the other roads: I continue to claim: dollar for dollar the best expenditure in improving road safety for all users is install and/or widen shoulders.
FHWA's position on bicyclists on freeways: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment...s.cfm#bicycles

Here's a study I performed quite a while ago while I was an Arizona DOT regional traffic design manager, found archived on Missouri BikeFed's site:
https://mobikefed.org/sites/default/...study-2002.pdf
I've not heard of any crash trends different than what was seen in the data then, even with driver distraction concerns.
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Old 09-28-23, 01:57 PM
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I have only one question about riding on Interstates ...... why?

BTW - Google Maps bike mode will usually not allow you to route via Interstates.
Even if there is no old road, it will send you 47 miles over a mountain on dirt tracks.
YMMV, but I do my very best to avoid Interstates, even where legal in the West.
Those wide shoulders are often littered with tire shreds, wire, glass, etc.
Not to mention the constant road of trafflc.
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Old 09-28-23, 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by jamawani
I have only one question about riding on Interstates ...... why?

BTW - Google Maps bike mode will usually not allow you to route via Interstates.
Even if there is no old road, it will send you 47 miles over a mountain on dirt tracks.
YMMV, but I do my very best to avoid Interstates, even where legal in the West.
Those wide shoulders are often littered with tire shreds, wire, glass, etc.
Not to mention the constant road of trafflc.
In many locations, there is no other practical option. Here in Arizona, I can think of think of several examples, including the Southern Tier / USBR 90 from the California line to US 60. One could conceivably swim across the Colorado River with the bike (in the summer, a refreshing but tiring option), and then go cross country across the desert, but it probably isn't a good option (even going tubeless), and landowners might get irked.

That's just one example. Others I could think of offhand include I-40 between Flagstaff - Winslow - Holbrook. I-8 between Mohawk - Gila Bend - Casa Grande. I've ridden both I-17 and the back way along old US 89 up to northern Arizona, and the freeway is less strenuous, and a wide but loud shoulder can be at times preferable to the zero shoulders and many curves of old 89 near Prescott, especially on summer weekends. At least the option is available.

You're correct that shoulder use can be affected by debris, noise, wind, and other factors. A rider can evaluate them when choosing a route. But it's still a legal and usable option, and prior crash studies showed a remarkably low number of bicycle crashes over the system for a long-term period.
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Old 09-28-23, 03:38 PM
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A couple of stretches of I-90 west of Frenchtown, MT were tame when I rode them on Sunday mornings. Heading to Spearfish, SD I opted for I-90 instead of a parallel local road because the latter had no shoulder and was lined with businesses in places, and it was a Friday. Again, the riding was tame, and I only had to cross one off and one on ramp. Total distance was probably 4 miles. All stretches were surprisingly debris-lite.
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Old 09-28-23, 05:01 PM
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Originally Posted by jamawani
I have only one question about riding on Interstates ... why?.
I like a somewhat direct route so will include short stretches of interstate as it makes sense. On my current trip I've done three stretches including today:

1. At the end of August I visited the Wyoming capitol in Cheyenne and then headed to Fort Collins. My two most straightforward choices were: (a) US 85, 70mph traffic with a two foot shoulder and (b) I-25, 80mph traffic with a six foot shoulder. I had about ten miles of interstate and it helped me cross the gap and I preferred it to US 85.

2. Last week I crossed from the Great Salt Lake basin over to the Snake River. One day I came from Brigham City through a nice back valley and then had fifteen miles of I-84 to Snowville. After that small roads again. Nice connecting gap.

3. Today I came from Mountain Home to the Boise State capitol. There were side roads for first twenty-five miles but also eleven miles of I-84 to reach Boise.

I don't go out of my way to ride (or avoid) interstates but in western states I can find them as useful connectors. I'll also note a few short parts of interstates on Adventure Cycling routes I've done:

Lewis and Clark route in Columbia River Gorge goes on I-84 with an alternative on the Washington side of WA 14. Description says I-84 was included because services are sparse and logging trucks on Washington side. I've done both sides of this route.

Southern Tier had short stretch of I-10 around Quartzite I believe.

I haven't gone out of my way to avoid interstates and have ridden such short connecting bits in: OR, CA, NV, AZ, NM, CO, WY, MT, UT and ID so little pieces in ten states. I'll take them as somewhat direct routes for short bits but prefer non-interstates otherwise. Agree there can be shredded tires and associated wires.
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Old 09-28-23, 05:08 PM
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Originally Posted by mev
3. Today I came from Mountain Home to the Boise State capitol. There were side roads for first twenty-five miles but also eleven miles of I-84 to reach Boise.
Yikes! I loathe that stretch of I-84 east of Boise.
I think it criminal that Idaho didn't maintain a back road option.
Not to mention that it makes things dicey if there has to be a closure.
Since we are talking about Google Maps - it sends you on 20 miles of rough dirt.
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Old 09-28-23, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
All stretches were surprisingly debris-lite.
Debris-Lite??
Is that a new microbrew I haven't heard of?
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Old 09-28-23, 05:19 PM
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Originally Posted by RCMoeur
In many locations, there is no other practical option. Here in Arizona, I can think of think of several examples, including the Southern Tier
RC -

Yep, I know. Arizona is pretty bad for offering few options for I-8, I-10 & I-40.
I know Arizona had a very low population when the Interstate System was planned.
My last time on I-40 east of Flag was brutal. Lots of debris - lots of flats.
My riding companion begged me not to attempt old sections of US 66 after the first try.
More potholes than pavement, sometimes just broken clumps of asphalt.
Google Maps usually routes you on the barely rideable old highway.

I have, however, ridden AZ 264 from Tuba City to Window Rock a number of times.
Remote, minimal services, cultural awareness essential - but super sweet.
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Old 09-28-23, 06:38 PM
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Boise to Mountain Home



I don't have a problem with riding on freeways. They are sometimes safer than riding on many secondary roads.

I use to live in Washington about 25 miles north of Hood River, OR. About once a month I'd ride from home to my in-laws' place in Portland. I rode the 73 miles from Hood River to Portland on I 84, and meet my wife and kids there. The freeway was a good place to ride. I tried riding the Washington 14 on the north side of the Columbia River once, and that was enough! I also rode the I 5 from Portland to Roseburg when we moved back to Oregon. I started thinking I'd take secondary roads home, but realized that if I was going to make it home before dark the Interstate was the way to go.

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Old 09-29-23, 11:58 AM
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Thanks for all that.
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Old 09-29-23, 03:25 PM
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About to head west on I-90 from Frenchtown, MT and the junction with U.S. 85 on the eastern edge of Spearfish, SD, respectively.



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Old 09-29-23, 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
About to head west on I-90 from Frenchtown, MT and the junction with U.S. 85 on the eastern edge of Spearfish, SD, respectively.
sometimes you will see service roads but be careful, Iíve ridden miles on them only to have them end and have a ten foot barb wire fence between me and the interstate. This happened to me once on i5 in true Northern California.
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Old 09-30-23, 02:32 AM
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Originally Posted by a_d_a_m
Between Steubenville and Jewett, Ohio exists a pretty crappy gap for anyone who might be trying to connect Pittsburgh to the O&E Canal Towpath (or the larger Ohio To Erie Trail network). Many of the roads lack shoulders and have line of sight issues by virtue of elevation or curves.
Did that last year, IMO OH-212 between Bowerston and Zoarville is even more fun with the heavy truck traffic during work hours. There are local roads in places, but they are gravel with steep rolling hills (e.g., between Leesville and Sherrodsville).
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Old 09-30-23, 05:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Roughstuff
sometimes you will see service roads but be careful, Iíve ridden miles on them only to have them end and have a ten foot barb wire fence between me and the interstate. This happened to me once on i5 in true Northern California.
Yep. If you zoom in on the first photo youíll see a parallel service road. The reason I didnít take it is because it ends a bit west of the on ramp.

In that part of the world, I-90 replaced U.S. 10. The old highway was kept where possible, but I-90 was dropped on top of the old highway in places. In this case, there was no practical way to get around that hill up ahead and keep the old highway. After getting around the hill, I got off the Interstate and got back on the old highway. That was about 3 miles later.

The other issue you have out there is that, until 1980, you had the Milwaukee Road railroad line taking up space. Later in the day I had to get on I-90 again for another 4 or so miles because there was no room to keep the old highway, in part because of the old rail line. From satellite imagery, it looks like the old rail line has reverted to private use. That former line is supposed to be part of the Great American Rail Trail. Between current private use and the bridges that were long ago removed, I canít see it happening.

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Old 09-30-23, 06:58 AM
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I went through some of my logs to see places where I've ridden on interstates in western states as well as some of the related notes:

Washington:
- I-90 brief stretch south of Spokane, riding between Connell and Spokane
Oregon:
- I-84, Columbia River Gorge, the alternate on WA side is narrow with logging trucks; also part of Lewis & Clark Route
- I-84, Cycling stretch past Arlington; WA side is otherwise fine but first trip across US ended on OR side
- I-84, Emigrant Pass, plan to cross next week; as lower (warmer) crossing than central/John Day; otherwise not needed
California:
- I-8, Short stretch between Alpine and Descanso; also part of San Diego Christmas Ride
- I-8, Descending/climbing between Jacumba and Octillo, may be part of Southern Tier
- I-10, brief stretch between Palm Springs and Hemet; used to be able to bypass through Indian reservation but was closed off; part of Christmas ride
Idaho:
- I-84, Eleven miles between Mountain Home and Boise without frontage roads
Nevada:
- I-15, Hell week ride sections between St George and Las Vegas; multiple sections without frontage roads or where interstate was best alternative (I didn't go further on this ride, but continuing to CA similar situations come up near Joshua Tree)
Utah:
- I-80, cycled from SLC Airport, to Salt Lake City, unclear if there was better route but took it as most direct
- I-84, short stretch before Snowville in crossing from Salt Lake basin to Snake River
Arizona:
- I-10, section around Quartzite, also part of Southern Tier
- I-10, section between Tucson and Benson as part of a Tucson to El Paso ride
Montana:
- I-15, section south of Helena, also recommended alternative in Great Divide Route where back roads are tough
- I-94, section between Forsyth and Miles City to connect to US-12 further east
Wyoming:
- I-25, small sections between Cheyenne and the Colorado border; often alternate routes but for example one was closed this year
Colorado:
- I-70, small sections east of Palisade, also on Ride the Rockies Route that year
- I-70, the corridor west of Denver now mostly has alternatives, but before these existed had three sections: - down from Loveland Ski Area, between Silver Plume and Georgetown, near Idaho Springs
- I-25, section between Cheyenne and Fort Collins without frontage roads and using instead of US-85
- I-25, over Raton Pass, to cross Colorado from S to N as well as do a Ride the Rockies starting in Trinidad (between Trinidad and Pueblo are more stretches with missing frontage roads, but I haven't gone there)
New Mexico:
- I-25, over Raton Pass
- I-25, small section north of Socorro where interstate is more straightforward than missing frontage road
Texas:
- I-10, west of Van Horn, also part of the Southern Tier

There are many others I haven't ridden but I can find over 20 places in 12 states where there were at least brief stretches of Interstate that were parts of my tours or organized rides (Ride the Rockies, San Diego Christmas Ride) or both. I don't go out of my way to ride these bits but I also don't go to extraordinary efforts to avoid an interstate when it ends up being a straightforward ride connecting spots I am otherwise traveling though.
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Old 09-30-23, 08:05 AM
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Reminds me that a few hundred of us rode 9 miles of I-94 between Steele and Dawson, ND during CANDISC. It was early in the morning, but light out. Got passed by maybe 2 or 3 vehicles.
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Old 10-02-23, 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
In that part of the world, I-90 replaced U.S. 10. The old highway was kept where possible, but I-90 was dropped on top of the old highway in places. In this case, there was no practical way to get around that hill up ahead and keep the old highway. After getting around the hill, I got off the Interstate and got back on the old highway. That was about 3 miles later.
One similar spot is between Old Fort and Black Mountain, NC, where they blasted and widened until I-40 had swallowed up U.S. 70 over the Blue Ridge. And since it's east of the Mississippi, North Carolina has banned bicycle traffic, not that I'm sure I'd want to cycle that anyway. At least in that case there are some small back roads a cyclist could cobble together to cross the mountain without too much of a detour.

FWIW, that didn't happen further west across the Tennessee state line. NCDOT had to blast two routes off the side of the mountains to build I-40 through there. They say they learned a lot of lessons on how to do that after 40 years of repairing rocks above the road fracturing and sliding down to block the interstate.
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Old 10-03-23, 05:17 AM
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Originally Posted by csport
Did that last year, IMO OH-212 between Bowerston and Zoarville is even more fun with the heavy truck traffic during work hours. There are local roads in places, but they are gravel with steep rolling hills (e.g., between Leesville and Sherrodsville).
You're right on the money there. Many of those steep rollers are prone to ruts/washout after storms.
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