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Enjoying the bike ride across Lake Washington

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Sometimes I take for granted some of the great bicycling assets right in my own back yard.

One of those is the bicycle lane across the Interstate 90 Lake Washington bridge that links Seattle with the Eastside suburbs.

The proper name is the Homer M. Hadley Memorial Bridge, and a bike lane has been part of the bridge since it opened in 1989.

Users

I discovered this bike lane on the westbound floating bridge soon after moving here 11 years ago. I use it on my occasional bike rides into Seattle or down to the ferry terminals for rides on the Olympic Peninsula.

Hundreds of bike commuters use it daily as they head for jobs on either side of the lake, above (looking west). At the annual Bike to Work Day, a relief stop on that bike commute corridor sees 300 to 500 cyclists between 6 and 9 a.m., depending on the weather.

Recreational cyclists use it on weekends to get out of town or as part of a loop or figure-8 around Lake Washington, below (looking east).

Connections

The bike path connects to bike paths and bike routes at either end.

For instance, the Mountains to Sound Greenway folks are piecing together an off-road path all the way from the waterfront in Seattle, across this bridge, through the eastern suburbs and over the  Cascade Mountains.

Views

The bridge bike path is about a bit more than a mile long, making it the fifth longest floating bridge in the world. Cyclists get a nice downhill run going both directions before they attack the climb back up to dry land.

Occasionally it can be calm and dry. You can sightsee as you ride along, admiring snow-capped Mount Baker in the north and Mount Rainier to the south.

On wet days, the prevailing winds blow a stinging spray from passing traffic into your face the entire distance and you can’t cross the bridge fast enough.

Milwaukee battle

What got me thinking about the bridge was an article I saw at Over the Bars in Wisconsin entitled “Why Bike the Hoan matters for Wisconsin.” The writer is trying to drum up support for a bicycle and pedestrian path over Milwaukee’s Daniel Hoan Memorial Bridge.

Even though bikes have become a critical part of the transportation network in many communities — including Milwaukee — this is the type of fight that bicycle advocates still have to wage every day.

The writer points to the many advantages of allowing bikes to use the bridge:

– It will draw tourists;
– It will serve the thousands of bicyclists who use the trails at either end of the bridge;
– It would enable bicycle riders to commute to work by bike;
– It will help close a gap in the bike trail system between Chicago and Sheboygan;

Lastly, the feds encourage and can even require bicycle access on bridges that use federal funds.

New lane


Although there’s opposition to installation of bike lanes or sharrows on some Seattle streets, I’m glad we don’t have to fight for bicycle access in that I-90 bridge corridor.

It looks like the same might be the case on the proposed replacement span for the Highway 520 floating bridge north of I-90.

Current plans call for adding a lane for bicycles and pedestrians to the new Highway 520 bridge (north of the I-90 bridge), whenever that is funded and built. (Bicyclists need to catch a bus to get across that bridge now.)

If you live in the Milwaukee area, there’s a meeting Tuesday on the Hoan Bridge repaving project:

DATE: Tuesday, August 23
TIME: 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
PLACE: Beulah Brinton Cafeteria Room
2555 South Bay Street
Bay View, WI

Permanent link to this article: http://www.bikingbis.com/2011/08/23/enjoying-the-bike-ride-across-lake-washington/

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