The Wonder of the “Road Closed.” Detours by Bike
Summer is a busy time for road construction. Road repairs may reduce traffic to one lane, and in some cases may cause a temporary road closure. With those road closures come detours.
When I see a “Detour” sign during a ride, two thoughts pop into my head.
- Is it really a detour? That is, can a tandem or single bicycle pass through even though a car cannot.
- If the road really is closed, how many extra miles of riding does this mean?
There are a couple of ways that road detours are laid out signage-wise.
- The detour sign is in close proximity to (say between a 1/4 mile to 1 mile) where the supposed road closure is.
- The detour sign is in one place, but the actual closure causing the detour is a couple of miles down the road.
I much prefer the detours where the road closure is close to the detour sign. That makes it easy for you or one of your riding friends to scout it out, without feeling like you might be wasting time and energy.
Detour setups where the road closure is three to four miles up the road are another matter. They’re a gamble. You could ride the three to four miles and it may be passable, but if it isn’t then you just rode 6-8 miles extra. For nothing!
On the other hand, you might get lucky and end up with zero bonus miles.
A passable detour takes many forms. It may mean slipping through on a strip of pavement that would not accommodate a car, but easily fits a bike.
Recently, we crossed a bunch of road covered in rebar. As a person who doesn’t always trust their footing, this no-detour detour was pretty much at my skills limit.
Sometimes we see detours where a single bike can pass through fairly easily, but the extra length of our tandem makes it impossible for us.
It’s frustrating to have to take the roundabout way, especially if it means more than four or five miles of extra riding, so I will always lean toward checking out the detour rather than blindly going around.
More than half the time, Felkerino and I have found that there is a way for our bike to get through. As for the other times, it’s good to have the GPS to see if there’s an on-the-fly re-route that may work better than the specified detour.
What about you? Do you take the detour or will you see if you can ride through?