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I'm in Switzerland for the summer doing some cycling. I'm wondering: Can I ride all the roads in Switzerland except for the autobahn?

For instance, between Bern and Fribourg, there's a major road labeled (on Google Maps) 12 and E27. That's the highway and I don't ride there.

But there's also a road labeled 12 that runs from Bern to Fribourg, a bit more directly, but it's just a two-lane road, not a highway (perhaps it's the old highway 12?). Is it legal for me to ride on that road? (Google Maps won't let me drag my cycling route onto that road.)

In general, are there any roads besides the highway that I can't legally ride on?

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In addition to uncovery's answer:

  • Some tunnels may be disallowed.
  • Even for tunnels that are allowed, Google Maps cycling directions are very (IMO overly) cautious about tunnels, and might refuse a route as soon as there is a 100 metre tunnel.

In my experience, the best way to see if tunnels are permitted is through Google Streetview.

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There are 2 different highway types in Switzerland, Autobahn and Autostrasse. Those are both limited to motorized vehicles that reach 80km/h. Autostrassen are limited to 100km/h, Autobahn 120km/h. Autostrassen are also often narrower and sometimes have only one lane per direction.

The road 12/E27 you mention is such a "Autostrasse". There is a list of all streets in Switzerland of this type. The other "12" route is usable with a bicycle.

Please note that Google is not a 100% perfect route planner when it comes to travel other than private cars. Since it is not transparent why it chooses some roads over others, it is not ideal to conclude that a road not used by Google is therefore unusable in general. If Google does not use a certain part of the road you want to take, try to plan a short route on two unused parts of the road and see what happens.

On top of that, Google maps notes:

Bicycling directions are in beta. Use caution and please report unmapped bike routes, streets that aren't suited for cycling, and other problems.

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Yipes. So I'm not supposed to be riding on that road? – Kyralessa Jun 15 '13 at 22:13
Wait a second. That same "12" road (not the autobahn) goes all the way into Bern (I live in Neuenegg), and I see cyclists on that road all the time. Surely they're not all breaking the law? Plus I'm pretty sure the speed limit the whole way to Fribourg is never as high as 100. – Kyralessa Jun 15 '13 at 22:23
There are two different Roads "12" in Neuenegg, as you can see from this map: This one is blocked for bicycle, (the lower, red one, also called E27) and the other one is OK – uncovery Jun 16 '13 at 17:28
@RoflcoptrException They changed that. See Verkehrsregelnverordnung: Art. 35 Abs. 1.… – uncovery Jun 18 '13 at 6:58
You have to notice the motorway and expressway (Autobahn and Autostrasse) are always with green signs here: and here: The main roads (usually two ways) are always with blue sign (direction for town/city). If it s green, it is forbidden for bicycles. – ruffp Oct 24 '13 at 20:01

There is a free on-line topographic map of switzerland here: This map has all the "Autobahnen" and "Autostrassen" marked in Orange, and these are not permitted for cyclists.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Here's my own answer:

It's OK to ride a bicycle on any road in Switzerland except an Autobahn/Autostrasse. These are easy to recognize (for Americans) because they're akin to interstate highways in the U.S.: Limited access points, multiple lanes each direction, and high speeds. You're not that likely to accidentally enter one on a bicycle. You can also recognize them by this sign:

autobahn/autostrasse indicator

Given that the road 12 I was asking about was only single-lane each way, had low speed limits, and had numerous businesses and houses with street-front access, it was pretty clearly not an Autobahn or Autostrasse.

As best I can tell, the road I rode on was the "old" highway 12 between Bern and Fribourg before the Autobahn/Autostrasse was built and also given a designation of 12. We do that kind of thing here the U.S. as well, but we usually remove the designation from the old road.

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In the US, the "Old" designation is usually explicit. And in the US, riding your bicycle on an interstate is allowed, except in states which specifically prohibit it. Though it would be pretty crazy to do so in an urban area. – Michael Hampton Sep 26 '15 at 22:17
@MichaelHampton, I was surprised to learn that you're absolutely right. I'd always heard that bicycles were prohibited on all interstate highways, but that isn't the case. Here's a Wikipedia article about it: – Kyralessa Sep 27 '15 at 14:03

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