Author Topic: Is this too dangerous a street to bike on?  (Read 5392 times)

bmcleveland313

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Is this too dangerous a street to bike on?
« on: June 19, 2014, 01:12:36 PM »
Hey guys,

Pardon the newbie bike question - I don't even know if this is a big deal!

Found this site a few months ago and have been loving it ever since. It's partly what has motivated me to find a new job that is now 3.5 miles from my house. I'd like to start biking to work, but the most direct route contains a mile-long stretch of road where the speed limit is 50 mph. There is a paved or gravel shoulder for most of the stretch, but it does contain a two-lane bridge that doesn't have a shoulder, so I would have to merge back on to the road before the bridge. Coming the opposite direction, the bridge does have a shoulder, so going home should be fine. This is really the only point in the route that I'm concerned about. I still have to figure out how heavily trafficked the road is during rush hour. From what I remember when interviewing, the traffic had spurts of density, but there should be times I can safely walk across the road.

I should mention that the river bisects my home and workplace and prevents a lot of alternative routes. The most workable one I found was about 7.8 miles with no roads greater than 35 mph and a lot of bike trails.

Do you think the first option is too dangerous and I should stick with the much longer, but safer route? What is your risk tolerance as you bike to work and has it changed since starting? Thanks!

plantingourpennies

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Re: Is this too dangerous a street to bike on?
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2014, 01:25:19 PM »
I'd opt for the 7.8 mile route with low speed limits and lots of  bike trails.  I don't know how many minutes the shorter route shaves off your commute, but < 8 miles is totally doable as a daily commute, and to me the combo of the speed limit, and the lack of the shoulder at a bridge point aren't worth risking.  YMMV.

FWIW, as you go along you might realize different times of day/year when the traffic on that stretch is light enough to make it work and shave a few minutes/couple miles off your commute.  For me, my way home has one bridge in particular with no shoulder on one side - I can brave that stretch in the road or I can cross the road completely at the previous light and hook up with the bike path for a couple of miles.  After getting more used to biking and these roads, I've learned that crossing to the bike path adds a couple of minutes to the commute and I'm not nuts about that path.  In the winter (when traffic is heavier), I do the bike path because I don't want to be close to that many cars, but in the summer (when traffic is way lighter), I feel comfortable holding my own with the 35mph traffic on that stretch of road. 

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Is this too dangerous a street to bike on?
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2014, 01:28:33 PM »
7.8 miles isn't much at all. I'd probably do that, lacking further details.

How long is the bridge? No shoulder at all? Weird. How do they deal with broken down cars of accidents? If the bridge was long than a few hundred yards, I'd take the longer route, but 50mph traffic really doesn't faze me, I just prefer to avoid potential road rage.

Wolf_Stache

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Re: Is this too dangerous a street to bike on?
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2014, 01:31:43 PM »
It really depends on the density of traffic. My current commute is the same way (not a river I have to cross over, but a trainyard). There are only two bridges, and neither has a shoulder on either side, so both ways I have to take an entire lane. Both roads are 50 mph speed limit.

One road is significantly less traveled, so I feel perfectly fine taking up a lane (there are two lanes both directions). I've had people hook and gun past me, but nothing outright scary has happened.

the biggest thing I found was moving over and taking the lane before getting to the bridge helps a lot, rather than trying to merge right at the bridge.

Russ

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Re: Is this too dangerous a street to bike on?
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2014, 01:40:53 PM »
Is the river shallow enough that you could ford it, Oregon Trail style?

Paul der Krake

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Re: Is this too dangerous a street to bike on?
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2014, 01:45:02 PM »
Depending on how long the bridge is, and how sparse the traffic, you could wait for a break in the flow of cars to cross the bridge.

It's really a gut feeling at this point. 50 mph country road with one car passing you every minute is very different from main a main commuting artery where you're looking at one car passing you every 10 seconds. In the latter scenario, you won't be seen until the last second.

marblejane

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Re: Is this too dangerous a street to bike on?
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2014, 01:45:24 PM »
Is the river shallow enough that you could ford it, Oregon Trail style?

Or he could get this: http://www.keywestpaddlesports.com/07_Dumb-Stick.asp

bmcleveland313

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Re: Is this too dangerous a street to bike on?
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2014, 01:59:55 PM »
Nope, no shoulder besides about 2 feet from the railing. From the point the shoulder ends to where it begins looks to be about a quarter mile.

Haha, trust me, I've already check to see if I could hire a Native American to guide me across the river. That wouldn't be too mustachian on an everyday basis though. Unfortunately its probably about 5 feet deep. A friend suggested I hide a canoe underneath the bridge and paddle across each day...

PindyStache

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Re: Is this too dangerous a street to bike on?
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2014, 02:14:19 PM »
A tow barge would be much more practical I would think.

somepissedoffman

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Re: Is this too dangerous a street to bike on?
« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2014, 02:14:29 PM »
If you hit the water fast enough, you can just hydroplane across.  problem solved.

jk, I'd recommend the longer route to start with.  That's still a reasonable distance, so just think of it as extra exercise.
You'll develop stronger opinions on what is a safe route and what isn't as you spend more time on the bike, and you can reevaluate the bridge later.

ritchie70

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Re: Is this too dangerous a street to bike on?
« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2014, 02:22:15 PM »
Nope, no shoulder besides about 2 feet from the railing.

I'm not quite following what this means, but could you just walk your bike across the bridge in those 2 feet?

bmcleveland313

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Re: Is this too dangerous a street to bike on?
« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2014, 02:49:03 PM »
Nope, no shoulder besides about 2 feet from the railing.

I'm not quite following what this means, but could you just walk your bike across the bridge in those 2 feet?

Sorry, I meant that there is no dedicated shoulder, just the pavement dedicated to the lane that has about a 2 foot or less buffer between the railing and painted lines. It wouldn't be walkable even without a bike.

Zette

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Re: Is this too dangerous a street to bike on?
« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2014, 05:13:58 PM »
Not a biker here, but had a thought -- since you think you'd be comfortable with the shoulder on the way home, what about crossing the road and going the "wrong way" on the shoulder that is on the other side of the bridge?

George_PA

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Re: Is this too dangerous a street to bike on?
« Reply #13 on: June 19, 2014, 09:46:06 PM »
Zette has a good idea.

I believe that by conventional bike on road rules, you have to travel in the same direction as the cars if you are riding the bike.  However, if you dismounted right before the bridge, crossed the street, and then walked across the bridge on the other side (that has the shoulder) against the traffic , you would be considered a pedestrian at that point and it would be fine.

This would be a plan a lot more feasible that some ideas suggested thus far about things like hydroplaning across the river or storing a covertly hidden hand glider under the bridge for daily commuting purposes.  Although ... on the other hand ... telling stories to people at work about how you bike, then take the hand glider across the river everyday does make for a more interesting office conversation.
 

Eric

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Re: Is this too dangerous a street to bike on?
« Reply #14 on: June 20, 2014, 12:29:44 PM »
I'm kind of interested to see what this looks like.  Can you give us the google street view?

bmcleveland313

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Re: Is this too dangerous a street to bike on?
« Reply #15 on: June 20, 2014, 12:43:58 PM »
I'm kind of interested to see what this looks like.  Can you give us the google street view?

Sure - I'll have to do it when I get back from vacation next week though.