Bicyclists flock to new bike trail on WA 520 Bridge

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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 view westbound from mid-span toward University of Washington and Olympic Mountains

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. 

Facing east, cyclists climb the rise at the west end of the bridge

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.

Informational signs are posted at belvederes, or pullouts, along the trail. Eventually, there will be 11 pullouts, with benches.

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.

Bicyclists experience slight climbs at both ends of the bridge

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.

LimeBike bikeshare abandoned midspan

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.

The 520 Bike Trail across Lake Washington shown in red. It gives bicyclists more options for traveling between the Eastside and Seattle




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1 comment

    • Jean Amick on January 16, 2018 at 9:28 am
    • Reply

    I think those many metal joint covers in path (which act as horrible bumps for cyclists) could be altered if WSDOT want to make the path a real “10” Wsdit could use golf carts, not huge trucks to maintain this path.

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