Author Topic: Border crossings on Northern Tier (Buffalo, Niagara Falls)  (Read 4415 times)

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Offline avman1023

Border crossings on Northern Tier (Buffalo, Niagara Falls)
« on: March 23, 2017, 09:30:00 pm »
What is it currently like crossing to/from Canada on a bicycle on the Northern Tier at Buffalo and Niagara Falls? How long does it usually take, and how big of a hassle is it? Are there other reasons to cross into Canada, other than the "better" side of the falls? I've seen the falls before, and wouldn't mind seeing it again, but need to weigh the falls against the border crossing/passport/time/money etc. of crossing into Canada. Your thoughts?

Offline John Nelson

Re: Border crossings on Northern Tier (Buffalo, Niagara Falls)
« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2017, 12:56:11 am »
I crossed from Canada to the US over the Lewiston-Queenston bridge in 2012. Not sure if I was supposed to or not, but I rode past the line of cars to the front. It didn't take long at all.

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: Border crossings on Northern Tier (Buffalo, Niagara Falls)
« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2017, 10:11:31 am »
It's been a while, but crossing the Peace Bridge was no problem with the right documentation.  If you already have a passport, there is not additional expense involved in crossing the bridge, and the ride up that side was very nice.

Our group stayed in town two nights at this place HI Hotel (not to be confused with the B&B of the same name):

https://www.hostelz.com/hostel/2126-HI---Niagara-Falls-Rainbow-Hostel

It's away from the heavily visited areas but still close enough to walk to the falls.

Here is some information with a video about crossing:

http://www.peacebridge.com/index.php/bicyclists-pedestrians/bike-to-the-bridge

Crossing back was similarly a snap.




Offline jwrushman

Re: Border crossings on Northern Tier (Buffalo, Niagara Falls)
« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2017, 10:28:32 am »
Thanks, indyfabz, for the links.  The video actually showing how to cross with a bicycle was excellent, but it looks like there are still places that will be a challenge for a fully-loaded bicycle, e.g. turnstiles.

Offline roderick.young

Re: Border crossings on Northern Tier (Buffalo, Niagara Falls)
« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2017, 10:25:34 pm »
If you ride the Maid of the Mist, it's cheaper from the Canadian side.  Or at least it was, a few years ago.  Getting into Canada was not an issue.  They asked if we had any weapons, even mace, and I honestly answered no.  The border agent was very courteous.

Coming back, I think we should have taken the Peace bridge.  Somehow, we got onto a highway meant only for cars, and the border agent there was unnecessarily rude, even though we were natural born citizens with passports.  Possibly it was related to us being of Asian descent - I saw the same thing at the Mexican border - we were practically waved through, but anyone that looked Mexican got the third degree.  Make sure you each have your passport ready, and go to the gate one at a time, not all together.

Offline canalligators

Re: Border crossings on Northern Tier (Buffalo, Niagara Falls)
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2017, 11:52:35 am »
Visit the web pages for the bridges, and Adventure Cycling's online information.  These sites are kept up-to-date.

I suggest that you try simple web searches first, then if your questions aren't answered, consult the forum.

Offline jcostanz

Re: Border crossings on Northern Tier (Buffalo, Niagara Falls)
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2017, 12:38:30 pm »
The Lewiston-Queenston bridge allows bicycles.  There are signs in Canada on how to use the bridge.  On this bridge you cross the same as a car, using the car lanes.  On entry to Canada there is a toll, I believe $.50, pay the toll using the right most open lane, and then before clearing the toll lane take the sidewalk around.  do not go straight as it is highway.

It has been a couple of years since I crossed the Peace bridge, The last time I crossed, from Canada to the US there was a large gate that was released by the border patrol that I was able to wheel the bicycle thru.  On the Canadian side you will see signs for bicyclist from the road next to the river, just south of the bridge.  This bridge you are required to cross as a pedestrian using the sidewalk.

The rainbow bridge in Niagara falls, I cross using the car lanes as the trike I use probably would be an issue using the pedestrian sidewalk.  There is a toll into Canada, I believe about $.50

I believe the main reason for routing thru Canada is to shorten and make easier the route as staying in the US either requires crossing the Grand Island bridges or going around Grand Island.

You might see a listing for the Whirlpool bridge but this bridge doesn't allow pedestrians or bicyclists and also requires all passengers in a car to have a Nexus card.

Jeff

Offline canalligators

Re: Border crossings on Northern Tier (Buffalo, Niagara Falls)
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2017, 10:32:33 pm »
...

I believe the main reason for routing thru Canada is to shorten and make easier the route as staying in the US either requires crossing the Grand Island bridges or going around Grand Island.

...

You get a better view of the falls from the Canadian side, and the park setting is nicer.  Also the route is a nice bike trail, rather than walking across the Grand Island bridges or taking busy roads through Tonawanda.

If you don't want to see the falls, you could stay in the US and take Riverwalk and the Erie Canalway Trail, directly to Lockport.  It's probably about 20 miles shorter, and no passport is required.

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: Border crossings on Northern Tier (Buffalo, Niagara Falls)
« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2017, 10:12:42 am »
BTW...If you do the entire NT proper there is an early foray into Canada (after Glacier National Park) at Chief Mountain. Was just up that way again back in '09. I highly recommend including this and going off route a bit to Waterton Village, where there is a great towne campsite in a dramatic setting. Note, however, that someone on this or another forum pointed out that this year is a big anniversary for Canadian parks and places are expected to be packed. As such, a reservation would be advisable.

Back in '99, crossing back into the U.S. at Del Bonito was a snap. Didn't see one other vehicle. In fact, I don't think we saw any vehicles between the border crossing and the outskirts of Cut Bank, MT.

Offline sdotkling

Re: Border crossings on Northern Tier (Buffalo, Niagara Falls)
« Reply #9 on: April 20, 2017, 11:38:23 am »
Crossed the Peace Bridge middle of last summer, Buffalo to Fort Erie, and I was expecting a hassle. But there was none. The American Customs people were completely uninterested in me, since the heavy trucks going into Canada were much more beguiling. The Canadian authorities were almost as blasé, showing my passport and answering a few questions ("Do you have firearms? Do you have liquor?") was about the extent of it. I had to consider whether the 4 ounces of Jack Daniels in my camping gear qualified as "liquor", but I decided it didn't.
One trick to know, though, is how to get out of the Canadian Customs plaza on a bike, which wasn't very obvious: Take the first hard right after speaking to the Customs booth person, and go up the hill to the nearby local street. A couple of local guys showed me how to do it, and I was grateful. The ACA route picks up once you cross the bridge over the toll/customs plaza.

Offline canalligators

Re: Border crossings on Northern Tier (Buffalo, Niagara Falls)
« Reply #10 on: April 20, 2017, 12:26:52 pm »
In response to the liquor question, we once told Canada Customs, "Six ounces of rum in a Nalgene bottle."  Agent smiled.  But then again, she was already smiling about the stuffed Marvin the Martian on the handlebars of a recumbent tandem.  Under a certain volume is allowed.

Offline BrianW

Border crossings on Northern Tier (Buffalo, Niagara Falls)
« Reply #11 on: April 20, 2017, 10:47:11 pm »
If you are a US citizen looking to cross the Canadian or Mexican land border on a bike trip, you should definitely look into the "passport card" option. This is a credit-card size passport equivalent that is durable and easy to carry on tour. If you get it the same time as you get/renew a passport it's about $30 extra. If you get it a la carte it costs a bit more. Still a lot nicer than lugging around a full passport while on tour. Note it is only valid for LAND (or sea) border crossings from Canada or Mexico (and some islands).

Offline canalligators

Re: Border crossings on Northern Tier (Buffalo, Niagara Falls)
« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2017, 09:45:04 am »
Another advantage of the passport card is, you leave the passport itself at home so it can't get lost.

Offline jcostanz

Re: Border crossings on Northern Tier (Buffalo, Niagara Falls)
« Reply #13 on: April 25, 2017, 10:47:48 am »
Even better than the passcard is the Enhanced Drivers License, If your state has them.

Offline canalligators

Re: Border crossings on Northern Tier (Buffalo, Niagara Falls)
« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2017, 12:16:08 pm »
Enhanced driver licenses are being phased out, check with customs before you rely on them.