Tunnels ride or walk?

Jul 2, 2012
64
7
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asagaya
#1
I had the pleasure of cycling round part of the Chichibu Nichitsu loop on the weekend (thanks to everyone that gave me pointers on routes and such), but, the joy of riding in such an insanely beautiful area was punctuated with brief bouts of bumhole puckering fear.

To anyone that knows the route I was cycling in a pair through one of the early tunnels just after the dam near to mitsumineguchi. The tunnel in question was directly after the loop and it was maybe 300 meters long and pretty narrow.

We were cycling with lights on and on the road as the pavement was really narrow and it seemed short enough that we could get through without causing a problem. Knowing that overtaking is illegal in tunnels (I think) we felt pretty safe. Until a lorry decided that driving really fast past us, crossing the central verge and blaring his horn was appropriate behavior. Understandably I myself, slammed on the brakes and made rapid efforts to get to the side even more so and in the process stacked it and put a nice lump of grit in my knee.

I had a similar issue on a ride to yokosuka a few weeks ago with a motorist that overtook me in a tunnel nearly wiping me out and found to my delight he spoke passable English when I remonstrated with him on the issue.

Whilst it makes sense to ride on pavements in tunnels when they are provided/ wide enough to do so I would like to know if anyone knows what the legal standard is for cyclists and tunnels. Are we supposed to walk through? ride through? ride anywhere in particular in the road (such as prime position) dominating the lane or otherwise.
 

kpykc

Speeding Up
Jun 13, 2007
804
4
38
39
Tokyo
#2
If it's a long narrow tunnel, without any road shoulder or sufficient lighting - walk or ride on a sidewalk.

Surely, there must be some laws there, but don't expect a truck driver to stay behind you all the time for the whole length of a tunnel riding at 25-30-35-40km/h, and be happy about it.

Even if the law is on your side - you need to be alive first to be able to enforce it :warau:
 

paullb

Warming-Up
May 24, 2010
57
0
0
Fuchu
#3
I have never walked a tunnel while with bike. In a couple tunnels, I take the sidewalk but these tend to be ones that I know and have good entrances/exits to the sidewalk that I can use.

When riding through tunnels I stay in about the left tire track which forces cars to properly use the opposing lane to pass.

I have had a not see me once and slam on the brakes (yet another reason to ride in the tire track where you will be seen) and trucks pass too quickly/close a couple times but nothing too bad. I don't think I have ever been honked at for being in the way in a tunnel.

The worst tunnels are the ones where they put up the poles in the centre of the road way that make it impossible to pass.
 

WhiteGiant

Maximum Pace
Nov 4, 2006
1,192
240
93
Kita-Ueno
#4
Ride...

I'll use the sidewalk if it's wide enough, but generally I opt to ride on the road.
Paulb makes a good point about those tunnels with posts in the middle that stop cars from using the other lane - They are actually a real nuisance, especially when the vehicles behind you are extra wide, such as trucks and tour buses.

The only other tip I would add, is to "stop & wait outside the tunnel until the wave of cars has passed". You might have to wait for 10 or more cars to go ahead of you, but then, with any luck, you'll get a decent break in traffic - Once you have that break, sprint for all your worth, and if the tunnel is not overly long, you can usually beat any cars to the other end. Unfortunately, this doesn't work for really long tunnels.

In the end, just hold your line as straight as possible, and trust that the drivers know what they're doing.
 
Dec 17, 2011
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kanazawa
#5
In the end, just hold your line as straight as possible, and trust that the drivers know what they're doing.
Maan, is this scary or what! I think that the last thing the drivers expect to meet in a tunnel is a cyclist..

Tunnels are the only thing I hated in Tokyo, really cramped, usually they would merge in the MIDDLE of the lanes... too stressful and they just outright suck. :mad:
 

FarEast

Maximum Pace
May 25, 2009
5,528
538
193
Yokohama
#6
The biggest problem drivers have with cyclists is the unexpected - keep your line in a tunnel and do make sudden movements.

Here are some tips that have seen me through 30 years of cycling:

  • Use 1/3rd of the road
  • On tight roads acknoledge drivers and pull over when it is safe for you to do so
  • Don't be scared of holding up traffic - it happens, you have every right to be there - just stay calm
  • Carry lights front - rear and side (I have found mounting a flashing light on my right helmet strap is very visual to drivers in traffic)
  • If in doubt or concerned pull over 40 seconds off your average time is better than 30 days in A&E
  • Thank drivers - especailly trucks that drive safetly and give you space or wait for you to pull over to pass as Im suure they radio on down the line.
 

GSAstuto

Maximum Pace
Oct 11, 2009
945
242
103
tokyo
www.roadfixie.com
#7
FWIW - I use my blinking light just about all the time now. Even in daylight the blinking lights (front / back) help to alert the other drivers and also send kind of a 'safety' message. I noticed a couple times last week while descending Greenline that cars or motorcylists cutting the corners abruptly changed course when they saw my light. Without it turned on there was a much high incidence of crowding.

About tunnels - we entered one tunnle last week that was completely pitch black. I had my eyewear on and for a few moments went blind. Not fun. If you don't have transition type eyewear or they are dark, maybe better to remove before entering. I ride in the tunnel and if it has a pedestrian path - then use it. Sometimes (like Yanagisawa) it's on only 1 side of the tunnel, so you need cross the road. That's fine. If it doesn't , make sure you have a little 'buffer zone' - cars will pass you as close as they can - so it doesn't matter to them how close you (or not) you are to the kerb. But it does matter to you! Do not ride in the gutter zone! It is littered especially in tunnels with all sorts of junk and potential hazards. Ride in the tire track. I won't pull over unless I'm stalling 3 or more vehicles or the tunnel is long enough to require more than a minute of passing. Over a minute or so and the drivers will start getting agro and looking for any opportunity to slice you. Not fun.

Agreed - if the driver is conscientious (space, no honking, courteous) then give them the universal tip of the chapeau. Otherwise I give them the universal sign of freedom.
 

Sikochi

Maximum Pace
Sep 13, 2010
1,181
76
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Kochi
#8
To add to the excellent advice, another option is to take an alternative route (assuming one is available and it doesn`t involve a large detour). Some of the tunnels here have the original routes to the side, so I just utilise them where possible. If you`re nervous about tunnels (understandable when you hear the reverberation from a big truck behind you), then similar to previously mentioned, do the tunnels in relays, in between the waves of traffic.

To anyone that knows the route I was cycling in a pair through one of the early tunnels just after the dam near to mitsumineguchi.
When you say `cycling in a pair` was it in a line or abreast? If you were riding abreast, I think it is understandable that a lorry driver will get annoyed. I followed a keirin group (they were all in toe clips, slight giveaway) through a tunnel a while back, and they rode in a group on the road whilst I took the pavement path. The pavement was well surfaced and wide enough for bikes and the tunnel was uphill so I thought they were being incredibly selfish by forcing any cars to have to wait until the other side was clear before they could overtake.
 
Jul 2, 2012
64
7
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asagaya
#9
When you say `cycling in a pair` was it in a line or abreast? If you were riding abreast, I think it is understandable that a lorry driver will get annoyed. I followed a keirin group (they were all in toe clips, slight giveaway) through a tunnel a while back, and they rode in a group on the road whilst I took the pavement path. The pavement was well surfaced and wide enough for bikes and the tunnel was uphill so I thought they were being incredibly selfish by forcing any cars to have to wait until the other side was clear before they could overtake.[/QUOTE]



Unfortunately there was no alternative route round there which was a bit of a pain as I would have gladly taken it if there had been one.

As for riding in a pair, we were riding in a line with lights blazing on both of us as far to the left as we felt comfortable. We were going at a good clip and no other motorist too umbrage just a jerkoff in a truck. We chose to ride having assessed the pavement to be too narrom to ride on and the tunnel seeming fairly short and traffic to be light enough that we wouldn't disrupt anyone.

In future I think I'll follow the advice given and either try to blitz tunnels if they're short enough or walk/use a sidewalk if theres on available.

Does anyone know if theres a site with the actual road regulations displayed in English? The UK is awash with that kind of thing but I've never managed to find one over here.
 

Sikochi

Maximum Pace
Sep 13, 2010
1,181
76
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Kochi
#10
We were going at a good clip and no other motorist too umbrage just a jerkoff in a truck.
Since I`ve been driving, I`ve been taken aback by the number of drivers who think bullying other road users is legitimate and acceptable - it`s worse than the UK. I`m getting tired of brake testing people.
 

paullb

Warming-Up
May 24, 2010
57
0
0
Fuchu
#11
The pavement was well surfaced and wide enough for bikes and the tunnel was uphill so I thought they were being incredibly selfish by forcing any cars to have to wait until the other side was clear before they could overtake.

I don't think this is selfish at all. I think its just plain common sense for safety.

Most, if not close to all are not wide enough to safely accommodate a cyclist and 2 cars across (i.e. a car passing a cyclist while the opposing lane is in use.
As such, I ride in the left tire lane so that passing cars have to wait for the opposing lane to be open.