Over a few drinks recently, a friend and I had a conversation about our cycling passion. He insisted that it's OK to ride your bike along the shoulders of Interstate 5. I told him he was being absurd. The very notion that you could ride your bike alongside the freeway seems to defy common sense. So, should I hop on my bike and make the trek to Portland? Could I hang onto the side of an 18-wheeler for a little turbo-boost?
— Glenn S., Medford
While we wouldn't recommend latching onto the side of passing 18-wheelers, we can tell you that riding your bike on the freeway is perfectly legal in most cases.
We were surprised, too, when we checked in with the Oregon Department of Transportation to get an answer to your question. The very notion of sharing the pavement with a high-speed semi also seemed crazy to the safety-conscious bookworms who inhabit the Since You Asked headquarters.
But it turns out that ODOT figures Oregonians are made of tough stuff. Agency spokesman Gary Leaming said that with some exceptions, there are no prohibitions against riding your bike on the freeway shoulder.
In the Rogue Valley, the only exception is on the viaduct, the elevated portion of Interstate 5 that runs through Medford, where there is not much of a shoulder. That means bicyclists are prohibited on I-5 between the south Medford interchange and the north Medford interchange.
Other sections of freeways in the state have similar prohibitions against cycling that are listed in Oregon Administrative Rule 734-020-0045. For instance, cycling is completely banned on Interstate 405 in the Portland area, which generally feels unsafe even when you're inside your automobile.
So now you know, Glenn. All things considered, we'd rather ride on a country lane, but for the intrepid cyclist, the wide open spaces of I-5 await.
Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.