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Roads You Really Shouldn't Ride in North America

Old 06-17-23, 03:14 PM
  #26  
ignant666
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Originally Posted by Pratt
Given a choice, I would avoid the Bronx-Queens Expressway.
The one day a year bikes are allowed on the BQE (the annual Five Boro Bike Tour), it's great. But certainly a quick way to die normally.

When i was a NYC bike messenger in the '80s, i knew a guy who successfully rode a bike through the Holland Tunnel (which connects New Jersey and Canal Street in Manhattan). He got a delivery to Jersey, and did not want to spend PATH train fare (like 75 cents or so) to get there.

"CA$H" was not a "real cyclist", but rather was what is known as a "degenerate gambler" and had a voracious need for money. He looked like the model for those novelty glasses with a big nose and mustache attached, and never went home until he had made at least $200 each day, which was damn good money in the early '80s.

Last edited by ignant666; 06-17-23 at 03:16 PM. Reason: fix missing word
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Old 06-17-23, 06:19 PM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by Pratt
Given a choice, I would avoid the Bronx-Queens Expressway.
Hell. I hate driving on the BQE.
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Old 06-17-23, 07:22 PM
  #28  
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A portion of Highway US 20 in Iowa-- No paved shoulders, heavy truck traffic, and small rolling hills that hid oncoming traffic from view. This made it dangerous for trucks to pass us and slowing their speed to crawl on the uphills.


Last edited by Doug64; 06-18-23 at 10:10 PM.
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Old 06-18-23, 04:49 AM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by Doug64
A portion of Highway US 20 in Iowa-- No paved shoulders, heavy truck traffic, and small rolling hills that hid oncoming traffic from view. This made it dangerous for trucks to pass us and slowing their speed to crawl on the uphills.
I donít recall any dangerous roads we took in IA, but I find what you say about vehicles slowing down on hills with blocked views interesting. I noticed cars doing that on rural roads. I wondered if it was because of the attitude towards cyclists created by RAGBRAI and/or because there could be a giant piece of farm equipment coming in the other direction. I have a distinct memory of a car waiting behind us for a few minutes as we slogged up a big hill where you couldnít see over the top. That was on the way to Dyersville. And no, no one from the group rode out to see the Field of Dreams. It was over 100 degrees. And I had never seen the film. Still havenít.
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Old 06-18-23, 04:58 AM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by ignant666
The one day a year bikes are allowed on the BQE (the annual Five Boro Bike Tour), it's great. But certainly a quick way to die normally.

When i was a NYC bike messenger in the '80s, i knew a guy who successfully rode a bike through the Holland Tunnel (which connects New Jersey and Canal Street in Manhattan). He got a delivery to Jersey, and did not want to spend PATH train fare (like 75 cents or so) to get there.

"CA$H" was not a "real cyclist", but rather was what is known as a "degenerate gambler" and had a voracious need for money. He looked like the model for those novelty glasses with a big nose and mustache attached, and never went home until he had made at least $200 each day, which was damn good money in the early '80s.
A guy did that several years ago. Canít remember if it was the Lincoln or Holland. He was a delivery guy riding an e-bike. He claimed he was simply following his GPS directions. I remember seeing a story about it on the news.
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Old 06-18-23, 05:04 AM
  #31  
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Cash price for the Holland Tunnel is $17.

That road thru Iowa reminds me of the Trans AM route in Kansas, all of it except the Iowa road lacks the rumble strip covering the lovely, generous 12 inch shoulder forcing you into the roadway.
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Old 06-18-23, 05:11 AM
  #32  
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Can you nominate an entire state? FL has the highest rate of bike deaths per 100,000 population in the US. When it comes to designing roads to kill cyclists, FL is clearly doing something right.
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Old 06-18-23, 06:47 AM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by Doug64
A portion of Highway US 20 in Iowa-- No paved shoulders, heavy truck traffic, and small rolling hills that hid oncoming traffic from view. This made it dangerous for trucks to pass us and slowing their speed to crawl on the uphills.
Iowa is one of the worst states for shoulders - and when they do have them, they often come with rumble strips.
I had a short piece published in the Des Moines Register about cycling Iowa highways which mostly negative pushback.
Many rural Iowa counties are losing population, so the money is just not there.
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Old 06-18-23, 06:51 AM
  #34  
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But when the roads in Iowa are empty - they can be really sweet.
(Old US 6 near Brooklyn)

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Old 06-18-23, 10:19 AM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62
Cash price for the Holland Tunnel is $17.

That road thru Iowa reminds me of the Trans AM route in Kansas, all of it except the Iowa road lacks the rumble strip covering the lovely, generous 12 inch shoulder forcing you into the roadway.
Iowa


To be fair, this was also on Highway 20 in Iowa. I also realized that this was 16 years ago. Hopefully, things have improved, so all my comments should probably be ignored.

Last edited by Doug64; 06-18-23 at 04:51 PM.
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Old 06-18-23, 05:39 PM
  #36  
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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.
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Old 06-19-23, 01:45 PM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by Doug64
A portion of Highway US 20 in Iowa-- No paved shoulders, heavy truck traffic, and small rolling hills that hid oncoming traffic from view. This made it dangerous for trucks to pass us and slowing their speed to crawl on the uphills.

AS you know US route 20 goes from Boston Mass. to Newport, Oregon, one coast to the other, one of the "old roads" that folks sometimes like to take, as it harkens back to the days before interstates. There are portions of route 20 which have been improved, with two lanes on each side plus a decent shoulder...there are other sections like the one you show here. No excuse for not having a national plan to improve roads like this section so that they are safer for all vehicles.
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Old 06-19-23, 03:18 PM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by Roughstuff
AS you know US route 20 goes from Boston Mass. to Newport, Oregon, one coast to the other, one of the "old roads" that folks sometimes like to take, as it harkens back to the days before interstates. There are portions of route 20 which have been improved, with two lanes on each side plus a decent shoulder...there are other sections like the one you show here. No excuse for not having a national plan to improve roads like this section so that they are safer for all vehicles.
In most places, it is a great road to ride on. My wife and I rode it from Newport to Boston. These pictures were taken on that tour

US Hwy. 20 in Indiana Amish Country.

Last edited by Doug64; 06-19-23 at 06:31 PM.
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Old 06-20-23, 03:15 PM
  #39  
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US60 from Kanawaha Falls to Charleston, WV. I don’t scare easy but this one scared the bejebbers out of me. Here’s what I wrote about it in “A Good Ol’ Fashion Appalachian Butt Whooping”

At Kanawha Falls just below Gauley Bridge, the road narrowed to the point where I was nearly scraping my panniers on the canyon wall and trucks were scraping my elbow on the other side. Visions of a long red smear on that wall about 6 feet tall and several hundred yards long played in my head. At least I wasn't climbing hills.

The road did widen, slightly, but it's the major road for the coal trucks and they were none too pleased with my presence. And they voiced their displeasure often. Needless to say, US60 isn't a bike road. I should have stuck to the cursed ups and downs of the hills and hollers.
One coal trucker blasted horn at me for 1/4 mile before he got to me and another 1/4 mile after. At least he was polite enough to blast his horn.

From Google maps



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Old 06-29-23, 07:26 PM
  #40  
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US-17 through parts of North and South Carolina alternated between just fine and absolutely awful, depending upon whether a meaningful shoulder existed. Heavy traffic, high speed limit, bridges. It's also hard to avoid, unless taking long deviations inland.
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Old 09-18-23, 09:24 AM
  #41  
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I found the Pacific Coast route -at least the ~700 miles I rode- from Tiilamook Oregon to San Francisco pretty nerve wracking. I would recommend people avoid it. There's little room for bikes, the road is twisty in a lot of places with high speed limits and poor visibility. And we're just in people's way.
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Old 09-18-23, 04:01 PM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by Brett A
I found the Pacific Coast route -at least the ~700 miles I rode- from Tiilamook Oregon to San Francisco pretty nerve wracking. I would recommend people avoid it.
I agree. I led 3 westbound ACA TransAm tours, the first one we finished by riding up the OR coast from Florence to Astoria.

The second tour we took the traditional TransAm route that hits the coast further north at Neskowin continuing to Astoria, minimizing the coastal riding.

The third trip we concluded at Florence avoiding the coastal mayhem altogether.

A fourth time I rode from San Francisco to Eugene solo (yes I know, against the wind with scenery on the wrong side!) I rode up the Napa Valley as far as possible to avoid the coast and turned inland again at Arcata to escape the coast.
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Old 09-18-23, 05:26 PM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by jamawani
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US 191 between Big Sky and Bozeman
We went through that area in July. Locals told us to avoid the Big Sky Road, so we took the parallel Ennis Road instead.

Worst road for me is Highway 17 in Northern Ontario.
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Old 09-18-23, 05:35 PM
  #44  
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My Forest Gump moment. I've ridden this road once in each direction, both remembered fondly.

Different perspectives are interesting. Much depends on the time of day, and day of the week. All bets are off on holidays. Monument Valley is close to Mexican Hat, UT, which is mentioned in this list as a 'no ride' road. I would caution riders to be prepared with food and water, and to be very careful of the wind direction, as the wind can be fierce. I've never felt traffic to be an issue, out here in the big empty. I drive this several times a year, as a single, older woman, and often think if I needed some help, it might be awhile coming.

A personal no ride road is the road over Hoosier Pass. I know it's a must ride for many, being on the TransAm route. I've ridden it exactly once, just to say I did. That was enough for me. It's a twisty road with poor sight distance, often non existent shoulders, and far too much traffic. It is not a good example of Colorado riding.

Any tourist area during a summer weekend can be miserable riding. We were caught in Idaho on the 4th of July weekend from Emmett to Garden City on Highway 55. Traffic was bumper to bumper with big vehicles pulling trailers of toys. The only saving grace was low traffic speed. I was very relieved to make the turn to Garden City. We left the majority of traffic behind. That experience underlined for me the importance of paying attention to weekends and holidays.

If I think a road is going to have heavy traffic and undesirable riding conditions, I get on the road at the crack of dawn.
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Old 09-18-23, 09:04 PM
  #45  
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Anything in Western West Virginia or Eastern Kentucky
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Old 09-19-23, 07:50 AM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by BobG
I agree. I led 3 westbound ACA TransAm tours, the first one we finished by riding up the OR coast from Florence to Astoria.

The second tour we took the traditional TransAm route that hits the coast further north at Neskowin continuing to Astoria, minimizing the coastal riding.

The third trip we concluded at Florence avoiding the coastal mayhem altogether.

A fourth time I rode from San Francisco to Eugene solo (yes I know, against the wind with scenery on the wrong side!) I rode up the Napa Valley as far as possible to avoid the coast and turned inland again at Arcata to escape the coast.
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.
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Old 09-19-23, 09:01 AM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by Kelly I
A personal no ride road is the road over Hoosier Pass. I know it's a must ride for many, being on the TransAm route. I've ridden it exactly once, just to say I did. That was enough for me. It's a twisty road with poor sight distance, often non existent shoulders, and far too much traffic. It is not a good example of Colorado riding.


Hmm, interesting. I don't remember any problems coming north from Fairplay (South Park) over the pass. Getting into Breckenridge the shoulder disappeared and traffic did pick up, though.

If I think a road is going to have heavy traffic and undesirable riding conditions, I get on the road at the crack of dawn.
Good idea. It always surprises me how much difference an hour to a few hours makes. Example: Yellowstone loop road 7:30-10:30? No problem. Yellowstone at 11:00? Aack!
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Old 09-19-23, 03:07 PM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by pdlamb

Hmm, interesting. I don't remember any problems coming north from Fairplay (South Park) over the pass. Getting into Breckenridge the shoulder disappeared and traffic did pick up, though.



Good idea. It always surprises me how much difference an hour to a few hours makes. Example: Yellowstone loop road 7:30-10:30? No problem. Yellowstone at 11:00? Aack!


I started Hoosier from Breckinridge in the dark with a Mennonite couple riding a Bike Friday tandem across the country. No problems, although that was 23 years ago.

Yeah. Yellowstone was not fun later in the day. Started out from Madison Campground early, stopped to see a geyser erupt up close then hit up Old Faithful. No traffic problems. (Anticlimactic to day the leas.) By the time I started up Craig Pass, things were a lot different. I nearly got doored when a couple pulled over in an animal jam and the driver flung open his door. I think my urban riding savvy is what saved me.
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Old 09-19-23, 05:17 PM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by PCHthx
That is probably the most dangerous mile on the entire Pacific coast. There are two corners, and the second one is blind with no shoulder and the hill comes right down to the pavement, so no where to go but occupy part of the lane shared with heavy, high-speed traffic. I have managed to dart thru it by stopping on the side and waiting for a break, but I always get gassed and have to check my shorts after getting thru.

Fortunately, I recently validated an alternate - there is a dirt trail you can see on the right up into the forest as you start ascending the hill, just after the stop light. The trail is accessed from the Ace Hardware right next to Hwy 1. A short 150 yards or so of hike-a-bike, and then the gravel trail is ridable to the top of the hill (via right turn on Arroyo trail), then down (a little more more hike-a-bike) to the Devil's Slide driveway - Hwy 1 avoided thru there.
Thumbs up for the dirt trail detour. I took it this week. Steep push for a few minutes then rideable. All in around 15 mins. Easy to follow. Only 1 fork. Fairly obviously left. Brought me out about 200m before the tunnel. Highly recommended even with a fully loaded touring bike.

More general comments on the Pacific Coast route between SF and LA. Generally considerate drivers. Very light traffic though the closure at Paul's Slide means this year is not typical.

Worst conditions - going through Malibu. Traffic in bursts is heavy and the shoulder is frequently blocked by parked cars or roadworks. Not a ride I would suggest for anyone not comfortable mixing with traffic. Disappointingly the only car than sounded it's horn for 30 secs to a minute when I was forced into the main lane had a bike rack on the back.
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Old 09-21-23, 08:47 AM
  #50  
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Originally Posted by ignant666
Most of Virginia...
^^THIS. Hands down.

I have cycled 36 states and provinces. There were bad stretches to be found almost everywhere but none even close to Virginia. Along with all of the things a cyclist could imagine for "Death Roads". To add even more stress, some roads had POISON IVY growing at the roadside and reaching out well over the fog line on narrow, shoulder-less roads.

In Charlottesville I was cycling to a friend's house while on a long tour and cut through town during evening rush hour. I did just fine keeping up with traffic across town but encountered a nice long uphill grade with a gradual leftward bend. No room for a bike on this 2-lane commuter road with steady fast traffic. So, I just found a driveway in front of someone's home with several acres front yard. Laid down the bike and sat there until rush hour was over. A car went up the driveway and driver waved to me - I presume knowing exactly why I was kicked back right there. It was only a couple of miles from my friend's place but thankfully I had all the time in the world. Normally I avoid rush hour traffic on a fully loaded touring bike, but cycling a long day put me in that predicament.

I have a handful of other stories, including some intentional assaults while riding. It's a beautiful state for sure. No way would I tour through there again.
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