Now that cars and trucks are using the new floating bridge over Lake Washington, opening the multi-use bike path is next on the checklist. Sometime in mid to late May is the target.
WSDOT posted this photo of the “regional shared-use path” on Flickr this weekend. As one viewer commented, in surprise and perhaps disgust, “This is wide enough for another car lane.”
Maybe so, but it will certainly be put to much better use.
The bike path is 14 feet wide, enough for oncoming bikes to safely pass with a pedestrian or two thrown into the mix. There are also pull-offs where cyclists and pedestrians can pause and be out of the way.
Although WSDOT had a grand opening for pedestrians and bicyclists on the new floating bridge on May 2 and 3, it wasn’t fully open to vehicular traffic until this past weekend. (Check out this time-lapse scene of the opening from WSDOT.)
For the next year, the trail on the north side of the new bridge will only stretch from the Bellevue/Kirkland shore to 1-1/2 miles across where the new and old bridges meet. It will be an interesting “out-and-back” ride destination onto the longest floating bridge in the world — confirmed by Guinness.
Then, in the summer of 2017, the West Approach Bridge North project will be complete. It will enable bike commuters and recreational cyclists to cross Lake Washington all the way, joining the I-90 trail as an alternate crossing.
On the west side, the 520 bike trail will connect to the Burke-Gilman Trail, which is connects to a network of regional trails. On the east side, the bridge bike path connects to the existing 520 Bike Path, which also hooks into trails and bike lanes on that side of the lake.
The old 520 bridge didn’t have a bicycle or pedestrian trail at all. Cyclists wanting to cross from Bellevue/Kirkland to the U District in Seattle would have to wait for a bus and hope for room on the bicycle rack.
I’m anxious to learn the positive impact this bridge bike path will have for bike commuters and others in the area.