Dogs Vs. Highways

For a long-distance cyclist, which one is freakier?

Clive Thompson
8 min readMay 22, 2023


Photo by Nick Bolton on Unsplash

It’s funny how your sense of what’s risky —and what’s not —can change in an instant.

This happened to me recently during my coast-to-coast cycling trip across the country.

Let me explain.

Basically, I’m spending my summer cycling from NYC to Portland, Oregon, for my next book on micro-mobility. For my route, I’m following maps provided by the Adventure Cycling Association.

Mostly, they stick to smaller country roads and highways — so I’m not fighting trucks, SUV and semis on bigger throughways.

This is good, right? When you’re on a bike, you really don’t want to be too close to 2-ton vehicles. I’ll ride those bigger roads if there’s no other option, but it’s pretty freaky to have those huge vehicles hoosh by with the unsettlingly dopplerian sound of TIE fighters — all rushing wind and shrieking metal.

So I was annoyed when, a couple of days ago while riding from Indianpolis to St. Louis, the maps had me pedaling down US-40.

US-40 isn’t a huge highway, but parts of it are pretty terrible for cyclists. At times there’s virtually no shoulder to ride on — just a tiny foot-wide strip on the right side of the highway. It was like trying to pilot a bicycle…



Clive Thompson

I write 2X a week on tech, science, culture — and how those collide. Writer at NYT mag/Wired; author, “Coders”.