For the first time ever, the Oregon Department of Transportation has published their list of upcoming chip seal projects specifically with bicycle riders in mind.
Chip seal is a type of paving material that mixes asphalt with pieces of fine aggregate (a.k.a. gravel). Road agencies love it because it extends the life of low-volume rural roads and it’s much cheaper to do than repaving. But for people who bike, chip seal is a drag. Literally. The tiny bumps don’t even register while driving, but on a bike they can really slow you down and cause fatigue. (And you do not want to think about what happens when you crash on it.) What makes matters worse is that road crews will often chip seal just the standard lane and then leave a ridge that crosses the fog line and goes into the shoulder people ride.
“My goal is to get the word out so bicyclists can plan accordingly and avoid an unhappy experience.”
— Sheila Lyons, ODOT Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Coordinator
Because of the groans that come with chip sealed roads, we were happy to get an email from Oregon’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Coordinator Sheila Lyons last week. She wanted to make sure people know what to expect when planning summer bike adventures on our state’s many excellent backroads. Lyons knows this is an issue, not just because she hears about it from Oregonians, but because she’s a rider herself. “It can be no fun to ride on,” she wrote in the email. “But it’s a cheap and effective surfacing treatment that ODOT is using more and more.”
Every summer ODOT publishes a map of all their upcoming projects, so Lyons asked each district manager where they planned to lay down chip seal. Then she created a handy list (below). “It’s used largely on lower volume rural roads – those that we like to bike on,” she wrote. “My goal is to get the word out so bicyclists can plan accordingly and avoid an unhappy experience.”
You’ll note that of the 26 projects, six of them run through an Oregon State Scenic Bikeway. Keep this list in mind — and also check the map for other projects across the state — when making trip plans. Also remember that these projects are subject to change. For the latest information, call the local ODOT district office.
— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – firstname.lastname@example.org
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