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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Indianapolis IN

    Bike Paths vs Road

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    There is a route I have done twice and I am considering on doing on a regular basis. This route has a pretty wide bike path that runs parallele to the road but it is just on one side of the road. My question is when heading back should I ride on the path which is located on the left side when I am returning or should I stay on the right side of the road?...

    I wanna make sure I am doing the right thing.

    BTW: When I am returning I do ride on the right side and have no problem with that but I might be riding with my teenagers and some other friends in the future and was wondering if I should keep them in the bike path due to them having no experience on the road.
    Last edited by Giulianna23; 11-21-2012 at 05:46 AM.

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Flagstaff AZ
    Bike Paths are two way paths unless posted. So, you can ride the path either way. That is the issue sometimes with paths because people sometimes fail to stay on their side or wander as they are walking so be careful passing, etc. Call out and warn people tht you are coming and don't expect them to do what you think they will do!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Washington, DC
    A bike lane, ie, a dedicated lane that is part of the road, or a bike path/trail? If it is a bike lane, there should be a parallel one on a different road. I would only use the bike lane in the direction of traffic (else you would be "salmoning').

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    WA State
    If it were me, I'd take the road in all cases, but here's the long explanation.

    Is it an actual separated bike path or is it a bike lane on the side of the road? If it is not separated by a physical barrier from the road absolutely don't ride on it against traffic..... very dangerous and in some states illegal. Even if it is physically separate from the road and riding on it would be allowable, you did say it is close to the road. If you wish to use it, do it with the awareness that it would be like riding against traffic on the sidewalk - one of the more dangerous things you can do on a bike. Do not expect that drivers pulling out of side streets onto the road you are riding will even be looking for you, much less see you and proceed very, very cautiously.
    "Sharing the road means getting along, not getting ahead" - 1994 Washington State Driver's Guide

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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Uncanny Valley
    There's one that I use for a couple of miles that sounds very similar, with one BIG qualification: there are only a couple of cross streets in the 2 miles of the path. Most of what's on the other side of it is park or undeveloped land.

    The parallel road is narrow and busy. I don't have a problem slowing to <10 mph to use the MUP (which you pretty much have to do to be safe) for the mile and a half between my house and the main road. It's plenty wide for two-way traffic, and intended for that even though it doesn't have a center line.

    The parallel road is narrow, shoulderless and busy; the limit is 35, but because of the absence of cross streets on one side, most people do 45-50.

    So, mostly I use the path in both directions.

    But here's the catch: Getting on and off the path in the "wrong" direction is crazy dangerous. In one direction, it means crossing three feet of deep sand and broken glass on a road bike. In the other direction, it means crossing a four-lane major road catty-corner-wise. So what I actually usually do is use part of the path, and get on and off it another way.

    I guess what I'm trying to say in a whole lot of words is that like most things, it REALLY depends on the local situation, traffic, what's the road like, what's the path like, how safe is it to get on and off the path, etc., etc. Pictures might help...
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler



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