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vagrancy laws

Old 03-21-09, 04:34 PM
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vagrancy laws

Would this be a good place to ask about such laws? I would like to travel soon, and I have no intent on campground hopping or having money for hotels.

Would someone be able to tell me if there is reality to the idea of having an upset cop take my bike and imprison me for a night?

Thanks

EDIT: I guess I should say that I'm in the states.
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Old 03-21-09, 05:16 PM
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Long story short, it varies greatly depending on the state laws. If you did break a law, the more likely crime would be trespassing, unless you also plan to travel without ID and cash. You need to carefully review the laws of the various states you plan to visit.

But generally speaking, you can legally camp on land that is not posted. It's possible a cop will give you a hard time anyway if they see you, so be prepared.

Separately, you may or may not be able to "wild camp" on state or federal park lands. Again you have to check the jurisdictions and specific parks.

And in case it isn't obvious, anywhere you camp you need to be very careful about drought conditions and use of fires. This is a major issue out west.

Do some research on "stealth camping." I'd also allocate some funds for hotels and/or official campsites, unless you have no interest in those bizarre modern contraptions like "showers" and "toilets."
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Old 03-21-09, 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by brill
Would this be a good place to ask about such laws? I would like to travel soon, and I have no intent on campground hopping or having money for hotels.
Brill, I tour just like that. A lot of us call it stealth camping. A lot of postings about it on bikeforums, just use the search feature. I've never had a single problem from the police. My recommendation is to camp is areas that have no indication of usage. The woods in most cases. Some of the small towns in the midwest will allow overnight camping.

Camping behind churches, buildings, schools, playgrounds is asking for trouble in my opinion.

Just my opinion but campgrounds suck.... They are catered toward RV's and cars... and the critters know exactly how to get into your stuff at those places and know humans = food. Raccoons are really crafty, once they lose their fear of humans, they can open zippers to your tent and panniers and get to your food faster than you can.
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Old 03-21-09, 05:50 PM
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Originally Posted by gpsblake
... they can open zippers to your tent and panniers and get to your food faster than you can.
hahah, that's pretty funny. So I wont have to worry about camping in rural areas then?

Do you pass through cities as well? How do you fair in urban areas, or the suburban wasteland that stretches out for miles.
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Old 03-21-09, 06:03 PM
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If you have any intention of going a standard route... such as the ACA routes. The maps are worth the money. The nice thing is that they will let you know if camping is available and in most cases if it's free. I slept in tons of small town parks for free. In most cases you even have the phone number printed on the map to call ahead.

I also did my share of stealth camping where no campgrounds happened to be open or I just got sick of riding. Keeping my eyes open later in the day always seemed to supply the spot i was looking for. I made sure I left no trace and was well off the road.
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Old 03-21-09, 06:13 PM
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brill, tell them how you, who have never ridden a bicycle before in your life, also plan to cycle straight across country between Virginia and Oregon ... without using any roads at all. He's not just wondering about stealth camping, he's hoping to bump and bounce across pastures, through forests, and up and over mountains and is wondering if he'll be picked up for trespassing as he does so.

Or did I misunderstand your intentions when you posted in the Advocacy forum?
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Old 03-21-09, 06:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka
brill, tell them how you, who have never ridden a bicycle before in your life, also plan to cycle straight across country between Virginia and Oregon ... without using any roads at all. He's not just wondering about stealth camping, he's hoping to bump and bounce across pastures, through forests, and up and over mountains and is wondering if he'll be picked up for trespassing as he does so.

Or did I misunderstand your intentions when you posted in the Advocacy forum?
I just read through that thread and I am trying to figure that one out myself. I live in Western PA and I can't imagine trying to ride a mile or two without a road or some kind of trail. Riding across our State, via road, would be difficult enough, especially for someone who has never ridden before. I can't imagine trying to do it off road. And while we have our share of steep hills, we can hold a candle to some other areas of the country.

Going from never riding a bike to riding across the country in 3 months, is a bit overlay ambitious IMHO, unless you already an extreme athlete of some kind. Add not using roads at all, well that sounds a bit crazy to me. A more reasonable plan would be to use bike trails, logging roads and park roads when you can, But you are still going to have to get out on main roads once in a while. Such a plan is going to take a lot longer than 3 months to plan especially when you need to teach yourself to ride and train all at the same time.

It takes most riders about 3 months (some do it faster) to go from coast to coast and that is on the road. Not using roads at all would probably take you more like 3 years!

Last edited by spinnaker; 03-21-09 at 06:44 PM.
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Old 03-21-09, 06:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka
brill, tell them how you, who have never ridden a bicycle before in your life, also plan to cycle straight across country between Virginia and Oregon ... without using any roads at all. He's not just wondering about stealth camping, he's hoping to bump and bounce across pastures, through forests, and up and over mountains and is wondering if he'll be picked up for trespassing as he does so.

Or did I misunderstand your intentions when you posted in the Advocacy forum?
Little boys can dream, can't they?

If traveling through woods is as hard as you say, then I will walk or stick to roads. If I wanted to be in Oregon, I would take a bus. I don't care how long the trip takes, or if I even get there.

It's impossible for me to not sound like an idiot, since I'm asking about something I have no idea of.. and that's why I was vague in my first questions. But even the grumpy replies have been helpful.

Thanks again

Edit: Oh, but I am in the right forum now, right, machka? Hahahah

Last edited by brill; 03-21-09 at 06:56 PM.
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Old 03-21-09, 06:55 PM
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Go borrow a bicycle from a neighbor, or rent one, and go for a ride.
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Old 03-21-09, 06:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe
Do some research on "stealth camping." I'd also allocate some funds for hotels and/or official campsites, unless you have no interest in those bizarre modern contraptions like "showers" and "toilets."
Not to hijack this thread, but has anyone had experience using free campground showers while not staying/paying for the campground? It seems like a good idea to me, just ride into a state-owned park/campground in the middle of the day to ride around, stop and use their shower facility, then continue riding and camp somewhere else for the day?

I know it seems a tad sketchy, but I think it'd be easy to pull off without people noticing or getting too ticked off.
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Old 03-21-09, 07:05 PM
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Originally Posted by carkmouch
Not to hijack this thread, but has anyone had experience using free campground showers while not staying/paying for the campground? It seems like a good idea to me, just ride into a state-owned park/campground in the middle of the day to ride around, stop and use their shower facility, then continue riding and camp somewhere else for the day?

I know it seems a tad sketchy, but I think it'd be easy to pull off without people noticing or getting too ticked off.
Many campgrounds I've been to have locked toilet blocks. They give a key or a card-key to people who have paid for the sites. And they lock them because someone has thought it would be a good idea to ride into a campground in the middle of the day and stop to use the showers.

If you really want a shower, go to a truck stop or if you don't mind showering outside, go to a beach at a lake or the ocean and use the showers they put there for rinsing the sand off. You can also stop at swimming pools and for the price of a swim, you can shower in the pool showers.
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Old 03-21-09, 07:06 PM
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Originally Posted by kyakdiver
If you have any intention of going a standard route... such as the ACA routes. The maps are worth the money. The nice thing is that they will let you know if camping is available and in most cases if it's free. I slept in tons of small town parks for free. In most cases you even have the phone number printed on the map to call ahead.

I also did my share of stealth camping where no campgrounds happened to be open or I just got sick of riding. Keeping my eyes open later in the day always seemed to supply the spot i was looking for. I made sure I left no trace and was well off the road.
Thanks! I didn't know something like this existed.. you are referring to this, right? https://www.adventurecycling.org/routes/network.cfm

This runs right through a city that I live in, too.
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Old 03-21-09, 10:11 PM
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It is my understanding that most vagrancy laws have been eliminated. Do a quick search online to see the reasons, such as the 14th amendment.

I suspect you would be more likely to be asked to leave (or arrested) based on trespassing, loitering or a variety of other charges than vagrancy in this century...
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Old 03-21-09, 10:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka
brill, tell them how you, who have never ridden a bicycle before in your life, also plan to cycle straight across country between Virginia and Oregon ... without using any roads at all. He's not just wondering about stealth camping, he's hoping to bump and bounce across pastures, through forests, and up and over mountains and is wondering if he'll be picked up for trespassing as he does so.

Or did I misunderstand your intentions when you posted in the Advocacy forum?
I wonder if he's going to change his name to Alexander Supertramp?
 
Old 03-21-09, 10:30 PM
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Originally Posted by brill
Do you pass through cities as well? How do you fair in urban areas, or the suburban wasteland that stretches out for miles.
Brill,
On my biggest tour, I passed through Houston, Mobile, Austin, and Tallahassee along with smaller towns. I just made sure I found a place to tent out before entering the major cities or made sure I was out of them well before dark. A library map in Liberty, Texas helped me find a good wooded area about 18 miles out of Houston. Glad I did that because Houston and it's burbs just keep going and going and going...

There's a million tips out there but another one I'll give is start finding a good place to camp well before dusk. Another good one that is do a weekend tour before doing a major one. That will give you the chance to learn what you need to take, what you don't need to take, etc.

If you decide to do a walking/hiking trip, Appalachian Trail forums like whiteblaze.net are an excellent resource for that. The Appalachian Trail hikers are also experts unlike me at camping & tenting skills.

Cheers!!!!
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Old 03-21-09, 10:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka
Many campgrounds I've been to have locked toilet blocks. They give a key or a card-key to people who have paid for the sites. And they lock them because someone has thought it would be a good idea to ride into a campground in the middle of the day and stop to use the showers.

If you really want a shower, go to a truck stop or if you don't mind showering outside, go to a beach at a lake or the ocean and use the showers they put there for rinsing the sand off. You can also stop at swimming pools and for the price of a swim, you can shower in the pool showers.
Machka, Having just rode the Northern Tier last summer and spent most nights in state campgrounds..... I never once came across this. Is this a Canadian thing or other parts of the US?
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Old 03-21-09, 10:31 PM
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I pretty much stealth camped the entire tour. mostly everybody we ran into was incredibly kind and either offered us a place to stay or pointed us to the right place to pitch a tent without disturbing anybody. Depending which state, county and township you're in will dictate the LEGAL applications and obtsacles you may face. However, if you put yourself in a situation to be arrested and imprisoned for this (always explain the full situation to the officer) than you either did something really wrong or the police officer that has confronted you was intent on arresting you anyway just for being an outsider. I couldn't see a situation like this arising as pretty much every time it came down to it, the cops would normally Help not Hurt the cause. Good luck and enjoy the tour.
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Old 03-22-09, 12:18 AM
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Originally Posted by kyakdiver
Machka, Having just rode the Northern Tier last summer and spent most nights in state campgrounds..... I never once came across this. Is this a Canadian thing or other parts of the US?
European and Australian, mostly ... generally campgrounds in more populated areas will do this. It does seem to me I have encountered it in the US too.

Rowan and I have a little "hook" in our tent for The Key ... in case we need it in the middle of the night.

Last edited by Machka; 03-22-09 at 12:25 AM.
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Old 03-22-09, 12:40 AM
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Originally Posted by brill
Would this be a good place to ask about such laws? I would like to travel soon, and I have no intent on campground hopping or having money for hotels.

Would someone be able to tell me if there is reality to the idea of having an upset cop take my bike and imprison me for a night?

Thanks

EDIT: I guess I should say that I'm in the states.
Humboldt, County, Ca. is lenient on vagrancy laws.
very lenient
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Old 03-22-09, 06:24 AM
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Check out the Bureau of Land Management. They have a website that deatails a lot of differnet regulations. They also offer some sort of "Omni Pass" for about $80, I heard. You can get into ALL National/State Parks, BLM properties, etc. Essentially, any publicly owned land in the country. All nice and official like. Worth the 80 bones if authorities try and beef with you traveling out in the world. Watch out for DNR/Park Ranger types. They have a little bity jurisdiction but they will power trip on it and take things as far as they can (at least on all my tours they were the ONLY authorities to give me any trouble. Cops, sherrifs etc. were nothing but helpful).

Also, if you do want to cut cross country, don't bother with a bike (at least not one you are attached to). You will wind up walking most the way.
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Old 03-22-09, 06:45 AM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker
Going from never riding a bike to riding across the country in 3 months, is a bit overlay ambitious IMHO, unless you already an extreme athlete of some kind.
I don't think that is really true. One of my TA companions had ridden a bike as a kid, but wasn't a cyclist and the other was not a serious cyclist and hadn't ridden in a year or so. Neither were extreme athletes, both did fine with a few weeks of riding a 2-3 times a week, the longest ride being 32 miles.

It takes most riders about 3 months (some do it faster) to go from coast to coast and that is on the road. Not using roads at all would probably take you more like 3 years!
Three months is a "normal" amount of time, but a bit on the long side of normal. I agree that not using roads would be a tough nut to crack and would be very tough to do in three months. I suggest that if someone wants to do it, checking out the off road motorcycle version of the TA. https://transamtrail.com/faqs/
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Old 03-22-09, 06:48 AM
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Originally Posted by kyakdiver
Machka, Having just rode the Northern Tier last summer and spent most nights in state campgrounds..... I never once came across this. Is this a Canadian thing or other parts of the US?
I have only seen these close to metro areas. I did not see them on the TA.
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Old 03-22-09, 07:00 AM
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A note on the stealth camping thing. We crossed the country and didn't feel the need to stealth camp. We stayed for free more than half the time and could have done so even more if we wanted. We stayed in state or national park or forest campgrounds some of the time and a only few times in a private campground. I only remember one night where a noisy campground was a problem (in Yellowstone).

Different strokes, but I'd rather stay in plain site with permission or somewhere permission isn't required. Town parks, churches, peoples yards, National Forrest land, and other free places, are pretty commonly available. I will stealth camp when necessary, but have found it to seldom be necessary.

Then again some of what we did might be called stealth camping with the definition some use.
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Old 03-22-09, 07:01 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
I don't think that is really true. One of my TA companions had ridden a bike as a kid, but wasn't a cyclist and the other was not a serious cyclist and hadn't ridden in a year or so. Neither were extreme athletes, both did fine with a few weeks of riding a 2-3 times a week, the longest ride being 32 miles.
But the OP has never ridden a bike and does not even know how to ride one. He still needs to teach himself to ride.
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Old 03-22-09, 07:04 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
A note on the stealth camping thing. We crossed the country and didn't feel the need to stealth camp. We stayed for free more than half the time and could have done so even more if we wanted. We stayed in state or national park or forest campgrounds some of the time and a only few times in a private campground. I only remember one night where a noisy campground was a problem (in Yellowstone).

Different strokes, but I'd rather stay in plain site with permission or somewhere permission isn't required. Town parks, churches, peoples yards, National Forrest land, and other free places, are pretty commonly available. I will stealth camp when necessary, but have found it to seldom be necessary.

Then again some of what we did might be called stealth camping with the definition some use.
This was very well said and and excellent statement on the judicious use of stealth camping.
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