Seattle’s new floating bridge across Lake Washington had its grand opening this weekend, and some 7,000 bicycle riders joined the party in the inaugural Emerald City Bike Ride on Sunday.
The Cascade Bicycle Club presented the bike ride, which also featured a trip through downtown Seattle on the closed-for-the-morning Interstate 5 express lanes. It was the first Emerald City Bike Ride, the first time bicyclists had been allowed on the interstate, and the first time cyclists had been allowed on the new bridge.The new floating bridge replaced another structure that’s been deemed structurally unsafe in earthquakes. At 1.5 miles long, it received the Guinness Book of World Records distinction as the World’s Longest Floating Bridge.
After watching the State Route 520 bridge take shape over the past half decade, bicycle enthusiasts in the Puget Sound jumped at the chance to ride en masse across the bridge before it was opened to car and truck traffic.
The ride started at Husky Stadium, the home to the University of Washington football team as it offers one of the largest parking lots in the area. It was more congested than Cascade’s annual 10,000-plus rider Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic as everyone left at the same time, instead of leaving in shifts.
“It was NUTS at the starting line — worse than STP — 7000 people all trying to thread out over the Montlake Bridge to get to the 520 from Husky Stadium,” said Seattleite Andy Davidson, who shared his photos here.The floating bridge is still closed to vehicular traffic while WSDOT crews and contractors put on the finishing touches. It is scheduled to open in a couple of weeks.
Even with the arrival of traffic on the bridge in a couple of weeks, bicycle riders will get to enjoy views from the span. A 14-foot-wide bike trail runs along the north side of the bridge. It features several pull-outs (belvederes) where sight-seers can pause to gaze out over Lake Washington and the shorelines.
That bike trail will only be accessible from the eastern side (Bellevue/Kirkland), however, until the western landing of the bridge is completed (the new floating bridge currently connects to the old bridge in mid-span). It will be linked all the through to the west side when the final bridge approaches are complete.