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Safe to bike on highways in the South-West US?

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WS Member WS Member's picture
Safe to bike on highways in the South-West US?

Hi, my boyfriend and I are about to start on a tour across the Southern Tier route in the US. We're going from North Carolina, South and then West, out to California. We are mostly following th ACA Southern Tier route and as we've been studying it we are finding that from Western TX through New Mexoco, and Arizona, much of the route follows state highways.
I know it's legal in these states to bike on the highway but the thought of it really worries me. Has anyone had experience riding on highway in the South-Western US that they could share, tips for other routes, general safety information?
Thanks, it's so much appreciated!
Claire

Unregistered anon_user's picture
It's fine; the shoulders are

It's fine; the shoulders are wide. You've got more to worry about in flat tires from the thorns and steel belting wires than from the trucks, and in carrying enough water to last in the heat and headwinds.

WS Member WS Member's picture
SW highways

Ditto on the thorn issue comment. Also, I agree with review of highway riding, ridden SW twice, and "normally" drivers are respectful of the tourist on bicycle. My only suggestion, when you have the chance, seek the small, least driven roads. Though drivers may avoid them because they are narrower and hence slower for a vehicle, they can be heaven for the cyclist - empty roads in the middle of nowhere, what could be sweeter. Have a great adventure.

WS Member WS Member's picture
Agreed! American roads are

Agreed! American roads are very very wide, and there is a lot less traffic in the SW, so there is likely lots of room. But the last time I tried riding through the desert I flatted with thorns (goatheads I think they're called?) 5 times in an hour (on pavement - avoiding the dirt areas, which are a sure place to get flats), and had to hitchhike back, after exhausting all of my tubes and patches. There's nowhere like the desert, though, so enjoy!

If you're not already familiar with the US public land system (actually just read your profile, so I suppose you are!), its pretty amazing for camping! The US has three main areas responsible for land management (National Parks, National Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management - BLM). You can camp for free on any BLM land (unless otherwise posted), and most national parks have a national forest outside (also free camping - great because close proximity to parks without the camping costs!), so you can realistically get away with legally never paying for camping west of the Rockies - and in incredibly beautiful places!

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