I Can’t Ride 55

Bicyclists, you’re free to go ride on the freeways, with a proposed ban on freeway cycling no longer being considered. I understand that there are a lot of bicyclists who want to ride wherever the cars can go, but I think from a safety perspective that riding on the freeway sounds like a bad idea to me. Freeway shoulders usually aren’t very wide unless you’re talking about a brand-new section of freeway (and when’s the last time you saw brand-new freeway in Portland). Put a stalled car, chuck of debris, or other obstruction into that shoulder, and now you have a bicyclist who needs to use the travel lane to get around it. Physics and probability would dictate that mixing 50-60mph automobiles and 5-20mph bicycles in the same section of pavement is a recipe for potential messiness. Are my thoughts out of line? Is it possible to safely ride down the freeway without ending up dodging debris and cars?

1 Comment so far

  1. PAgent (unregistered) on August 31st, 2006 @ 11:07 am

    First and foremost, I don’t think bikes should ride on freeways. I have done so, where it was the only way from Point A to Point B, but I think it’s far too risky in general.

    With that said, let me just say that the shoulders on most freeways are easily twice the width of a bike lane, and permit you to get much further away from traffic than you normally can, particularly compared to rural roads where there IS no shoulder or bike lane. Additionally, I think freeway shoulders would have far LESS road debris PER MILE than I normally have to dodge when I ride in town. Between loose gravel, broken beer bottles, trash, and storm drains, I sometimes spend more time outside the bike lane than in it.

    Physics definitely says this is a bad idea, but you should realize that a freeway shoulder can be quite attractive to cyclists, rather than the opposite.

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