Update: May 16, 2009 — Bicyclists can now ride their bikes directly to the ferry docks
The Hood Canal Bridge will be closed for repairs for six weeks beginning Friday, but there will be limited service for bicyclists who want to cross the waterway.
Bicycle riders can use a free passenger-only ferry between Lofall on the Kitsap Peninsula and South Point on the Olympic Peninsula that runs every 30 minutes.
The catch is that the ferry can take only five bicycles at a time, and they must arrive by shuttle bus from nearby park-and-ride lots (bicyclists cannot ride directly to the ferry). Those shuttle buses can only carry three bicycles per trip.
Shuttle and pickups
On the Kitsap Peninsula (east) side, the bicycle riders can catch the shuttle bus at Port Gamble Park & Ride lot at the old waterfront mill site in Port Gamble. It's right off State Route 104.
On the west side in Jefferson County, bicyclists cannot use the Shine Pit Park & Ride (the one marked for cars) because of a dangerous road into the parking lot. Bicyclists must use the Olympic Gateway Visitor Center at 93 Beaver Valley Road (or State Route 19), where they will pick up a Jefferson County transit bus to the South Point water shuttle.
The Washington State Department of Transportation says there will be bicycle racks at the Port Gamble Park & Ride and the Olympic Gateway Visitor Center Park & Ride (none at the Shine Pit because bicycles aren't allowed there).
Check the Hood Canal Project site for charts for ferries and other routes around the Hood Canal bridge.
When I contacted Bill Abbey, the West Sound Cycling Club president about the bridge closure, he had a positive spin on the bridge closure that I hadn't anticipated. Primarily, through-traffic on the Kitsap Peninsula is going to be greatly reduced, and it will be a great time to ride there.
“Now the good news. I am sure that once things are sorted out it will mean that riding in the Port Gamble and affected highway area will be great. Ditto on the Port Ludlow, Shine and Port Townsend area. It is really scenic with good roads and now an even lower traffic volume. This would be the time to plan the late spring ride and really explore that area over a long weekend or several more days.”
The few times that I've bicycled over to Port Townsend, the 1 1/2-mile passage across the Hood Canal Bridge always has been a white-knuckle stomach-in-my-throat experience.
There was lots of traffic, not much room for a bike on the right, and that menacing bridge grate.
When this thing is all over, bridge passage for bicyclists should be greatly improved, as the span will sport 8-foot-wide shoulders its entire length.
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