Bicycling Prohibitions on Highways/Freeways

From time to time, the question about bicycling on freeways (a.k.a. highways, or more officially “controlled access highways”) comes up.

By statute, the state (ADOT) or local authorities may prohibit bicyclists:

§28-733. Restrictions on use of controlled access highway

A. The director may, and local authorities by ordinance may, prohibit the use … by pedestrians, bicycles or other nonmotorized traffic…

ADOT has a formal written policy see:

ADOT Traffic Engineering Policies, Guidelines, and Procedures Section 1000 – Miscellaneous, 1030 CONTROLLED-ACCESS HIGHWAYS AS BIKEWAYS

“bicycles are permitted by law to operate on all State highways, including controlled-access highways, except where excluded by administrative regulation and the posting of signs to give notice of a prohibition”. Which then goes on to list specifically where the prohibitions are, what are generally speaking the urbanized areas. For example the restriction on I-10 is from MP 120.22 (Verrado Way) to MP 270.59 (Kolb Road) — that is the entire Metro Phoenix through Metro Tucson region.

Besides ADOT (“the director”), I am not aware of any circumstance where any other authority has prohibited bicyclists in Arizona.

What about Safety?

As might be expected, there isn’t much in the way of safety data; there was a paper Bicycle – Motor Vehicle Collisions  on Controlled Access Highways  in Arizona by Richard C. Moeur and Michelle N. Bina covering over 11 years of statewide crash data. There were only 9 incidents (6 injuries, and 3 fatalities) over the entire period. So, in short, any bike-MV collision on a controlled access highway is pretty rare.

Some other ADOT Issues / Rumble Strips, Not necessarily related to controlled access

Under “ADOT Bicycle and Pedestrian Policies” at http://azbikeped.org/laws-and-policies.asp, the following links should be:

Also, see Standard Drawings for rumble strips at:

Interstate

As mentioned above, whether or not a bicyclist can ride on an interstate in Arizona has nothing to do with a road’s status as a part of the federal interstate highway system, but rather what the jurisdiction has determined for a fully controlled-access highway. There is some interesting background and FHWA stuff in this article that deals with Missouri: Interstate riding perfectly legal where that state’s DOT has determined to allow bicyclists to the shoulder along any interstate there; they coincidentally even referred to the Moeur and Bina ADOT study “The Arizona Department of Transportation released a study in 2002 that looked at the safety record of bicycling along the shoulders of controlled access highways. The study found there were less than one crash per year in Arizona and that it was not a significant safety hazard. “

5 thoughts on “Bicycling Prohibitions on Highways/Freeways”

  1. People are typically surprised when I tell them that essentially every interstate on-ramp in AZ has a sign “[bicycles] use shoulder only” (R9-101). As a “symbol message sign”, without a formal experiment approved by the FHWA, that is technically not in conformance to the MUTCD. I believe there was discussion about standardizing that sign in the next edition.

  2. If A.R.S. 28-721 were enforced better (slower traffic keep right), it would be safer to bike on freeways because bicyclists would always be next to the slowest cars on the road.

    We need a law like the Autobahn’s that prohibits passing on the right.

  3. “If A.R.S. 28-721 were enforced better (slower traffic keep right), it would be safer to bike on freeways because bicyclists would always be next to the slowest cars on the road.

    We need a law like the Autobahn’s that prohibits passing on the right.”

    How about you don’t ride a bicycle near traffic traveling at 75MPH

  4. “We need a law like the Autobahn’s that prohibits passing on the right.”

    Close, but not quite. The only reason drivers pass on the right is because slower drivers and looky-loos are driving slowly in the left lanes.

    Instead of enforcing a prohibition on passing on the right, we need to enforce a prohibition on driving in the left lane unless drivers are actively passing another car.

    If you keep the slowpokes out of the left lane there will be no opportunity to pass on the right in the first place.

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