A break in the dreary winter weather in Seattle made for a rare sunny day on Sunday. Local bicycle riders answered the call with a visit to the area’s newest bicycling attraction — the 520 Bike Trail across the WA 520 bridge.
The floating bridge replaced an older structure, dating originally to 1963, that carried cars, but no pedestrians. The replacement span opened in 2016, and the adjoining bike path opened to great hoopla on Dec. 20.
The bridge bike trail — 14 feet wide and about 3 miles long — opened another transportation corridor for bicycle riders between Redmond, Kirkland, and northern Bellevue with UW, Seattle, and the Burke-Gilman Trail.
Less than ideal bicycling weather over subsequent weekends kept all but the most hardy cyclists from using the new bike trail. Sunny temps in the mid 50s on Sunday prompted hundreds of cyclists to head to the bridge from connecting trails on the western and eastern neighborhoods.
By noon, more than 900 bicyclists and pedestrians had crossed the metering station set up on the University of Washington side of the span that connects Seattle with the Eastside.
There are many ways to enjoy this bike trail across Lake Washington.
On the eastern shore, there’s a small parking lot at Evergreen Point Road at the east end of the bridge in Medina. There’s also the Kirkland Park and Ride lot on 108th Ave. NE. On the western side in Montlake, there’s street parking in the vicinity of UW.
The span also figures in lots of bicycle routes and loops, such as a loop that incorporates both the I-90 Bridge Trail to the south, or the Burke-Gilman Trail and Juanita Drive/Lake Washington route through Kirkland.
The bridge bike trail also intersects seamlessly with the 520 Trail on the Eastside. On the westside, you can follow the bike-route signs between the bridge and the Burke-Gilman Trail, about 0.6 miles away.
Most importantly, this trail makes lake-crossings easier for bicycle commuters.
The eastern and western landings are both elevated; the one on the east side seems steeper. Also, regular expansion joints make for frequent bumps along the trail. Keep a firm grip on your bicycle handlebars, especially if you’re using one hand to take a sip from your water bottle.