Scores of bicyclists took to the Mountains-to-Sound/I-90 bike trail this morning to avoid being stuck in traffic at the Interstate 90 work zone in Bellevue.
Although no one was making a count of bike commuters, I’d estimate that bike traffic passing the kiosk at the base of the Eastern Connector bridge was equal to or greater than the flow on Bike-to-Work Day in May.
My wife was among those who were commuting by bike because of the forecast traffic snarl. It was her first time on a bike in years.
She had taken me up on a bike-to-work challenge, and I accompanied her to the park-and-ride on Mercer Island where she locked up her bike and rode the bus the rest of the way. More than a dozen bikes were parked at Mercer Island.
She thoroughly enjoyed the ride, even commenting that “this isn’t bad at all” after completing the first couple of mostly-downhill miles from our home.
Another first-time commuter was the guy who visited the Bicycle Center in Issaquah on Sunday. He told blogger, and bike store wrench, Kent Peterson that the expected carmageddon was the tipping point to begin bike commuting.
As it turned out, traffic backed up for three miles early Monday morning, but was free flowing by 9 a.m. The state warned of severe traffic because it’s closing three of four westbound lanes across the Eastern Connector bridge linking Bellevue and Mercer Island.
Don’t get complacent. The work to replace two expansion joints should continue all week.
WSDOT spokesman Mike Allende told the Seattle Times:
“We’re hopeful that people don’t get too comfortable, and expect this tomorrow.” In previous, major highway closures, the opening day turns out to be fairly light, followed by a second-day surge.
Tom Fucoloro talks more about the adaptability of motorists to change their routines in order to avoid traffic at Seattle Bike Blog.
Although the state said bicyclists would be escorted through the construction zone, bike traffic flowed freely past the work Monday morning. A screen had been installed to shield bicyclists from any debris that might fly up from the work.
The work is expected to continue all week. As you can see in the top photo, the bike lane across the Eastern Connector on I-90 will be shut down for a few hours Sunday night through Monday morning.