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Old 12-19-05, 12:37 PM   #1
Bekologist
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Another dicey stretch of roadway for cyclists, notorious in the Northwest as a real alpha dog ballbuster, the Hood Canal Bridge has intimidated bicyclists since its inception. In 2005, WA DOT has completed a phase of the Hood Canal Bridge project, adding wider shoulders to the western half of the main roadway on the floating bridge segments. the east segment awaits widening project to be completed by 2008.

There are two truss bridges at either end of the Hood Canal 'bridge' and a middle section of approx 1 1/2 miles of single lane each direction, double yellow, floating bridge sections divided by a pullspan drawbridge in the center of the canal. A very daunting crossing. The truss bridges are grated metal roadway in the traffic lane, and composite friction surface decking on both the 'shoulder' and the walkway. These are seen in Picture #1.

Picture #2 shows the improved, west half of the floating segments, in between the drawspan and the western truss bridge.


Traffic is steady but by no means continous; the eastern section of the floating segment is approx. 18 inches of shoulder to the right of a jersey barrier style edgeway. The shoulder as seen in #2 was distinctly not swept clear of debris. Roadway speed is probably 40-45, its posted 35 or 40.


Where do you position your bicycle in picture 1, and picture 2? These pictures represent an actual bicycling scenario taken Dec 8th,2005. pictures were taken on-the-fly with a disposable camera hanging from a leash on my handlebars. (as for my bicycle positioning, its fairly evident, in pic one I was just dicing the stripe, in pic 2 I was obviously in the shoulder portion.)

Where would you ride, and why?
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Old 12-19-05, 01:28 PM   #2
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Bek,

that is one scary bridge. One thing you forgot to mention is how the wind howls through the canal, and that a big portion of the traffic is RV's, dump trucks, and logging trucks. I've crossed that bridge with some scary gusts that seem seriously amplified by the off and on protection of the big rigs. Me, I'd ride on the new shoulder where available and in the right tire track when not.

Have they at least removed the portions where they expected cyclists to walk their bikes?

-Marcus
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Old 12-19-05, 01:42 PM   #3
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I can't tell from the picture, is there a pedestrian accomodation?

If so, I would ride that, slowly. Consider me transitional VC.

If not, then, a rant:

All bridges need to have pedestrian accomodations if for no other reason than emergencies/accidents/breakdowns/zombie attacks.

after the rant, I think I would have to consider conditions each time: wind, weather, traffic, and pick the least of evils for that moment.
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Old 12-19-05, 02:18 PM   #4
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Left hand picture-This has to be one of the worst situations for riding a bike, narrow lane grated metal bridge. Metal bridges have grooves that can be really disconcerting. I always take them as fast as possible and try not to look down. If they are wet, its like riding on ice and if you fall, its like skidding on a cheese grater.

Because I would not want to fall, I would take the center of the traffic lane, no way I would be stuck to the right of the white line, fairly fast, and with a really light touch on the bars.

Right hand picture-shoulder.
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Old 12-19-05, 03:16 PM   #5
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Wow! That is a tough one. I drove the HCFB many times back when I lived in Pugetopolis, but never even considered attempting to ride across it.

Matter of fact, my initial answer is I'd simply find somewhere else to ride, and wouldn't plan a trip that involved a crossing of that bridge. Or I'd do what bicyclists are legally forced to do for the Astoria and Hood River bridge crossings down here: find a sympathetic taxi (OK, not an option at Hood Canal) or pickup truck driver to take me across. Especially if conditions were wet.

OK, here's the real answer (assuming dry conditions and an unusual level of boldness on my part): In the left photo, I'd take the lane. At times when there was oncoming traffic, I'd take the lane, period, and ride straight down the center. At times when there was no oncoming traffic, I'd ride towards the right side of the lane, allowing vehicles behind me to get around, but still a couple feet in from the stripe to make it clear that they're going to need to get way across the centerline to pass me safely. Right photo is easy, BTW: I'd ride on the shoulder.

I do have a scary-floating-bridge-in-Washington cycling story to relate: quite a few years ago, when I was a much less aware or knowledgeable biker, I once did a long loop ride from my home in Seattle. I started off across the I-90 floating bridge, rode around the Eastside a while -- and then headed back to the Evergreen Point floating bridge, hoping to get across it and be home right around dusk.

Somehow I'd gotten the idea this bridge had a reasonably usable sidewalk for peds and bikes to get across (how could it not, right?). What it really has is a very narrow (18"?) raised curb that's closer to the traffic lanes than any sane pedestrian would tolerate. Of course this was in the days before racks on Metro buses, or cellphones to call a friend for help. The only alternative I could see was a 15-mile backtrack around the I-90 bridge, but with darkness fast approaching and no lights on my bike that seemed even more dangerous. So I did the unthinkable: walked across that narrow curb, rolling my bike in front of me, up on its rear wheel. Fortunately I didn't get sideswiped or cause a traffic jam, and only got honked at 2-3 times. And learned never to make such a stupid route-planning mistake again. FWIW, this is a different situation than Hood Canal though, since bikes are legal on that bridge.

Last edited by GlowBoy; 12-19-05 at 03:26 PM.
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Old 12-19-05, 04:17 PM   #6
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Matter of fact, my initial answer is I'd simply find somewhere else to ride, and wouldn't plan a trip that involved a crossing of that bridge. Or I'd do what bicyclists are legally forced to do for the Astoria and Hood River bridge crossings down here: find a sympathetic taxi (OK, not an option at Hood Canal) or pickup truck driver to take me across. Especially if conditions were wet.
Sounds reasonable to me. But then, I am not a particualrly aggressive cyclist.
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Old 12-19-05, 04:39 PM   #7
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In picture #1, the shoulder 'necks down' to the bridgeway, but on the truss itself, to the right of the white line is solid composite decking with sandy grip paint; to the left of the line is the metal grating.

I've ridden this numerous times, the actual crossing takes maybe 20 minutes, and the western improvements seen in #2 are a HUGE improvement to the 18" shoulder between a white line and a jersey barrier, which most of the crossing still consists of.
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Old 12-19-05, 06:37 PM   #8
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Frickin ball-buster. I hate grated bridges more than I hate getting buzzed. I'd probably be in the shoulder if it is the material you say - I'd rather have the traction than the space. That shoulder looks full of small debris in pic 2, but since I always have good rubber I'd probably use it as well, though the lane looks to be paved there, so if traffic was light, I might be in the right tire track and yield if I spot someone coming up from behind.
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Old 12-19-05, 06:43 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Bekologist
In picture #1, the shoulder 'necks down' to the bridgeway, but on the truss itself, to the right of the white line is solid composite decking with sandy grip paint; to the left of the line is the metal grating.

I've ridden this numerous times, the actual crossing takes maybe 20 minutes, and the western improvements seen in #2 are a HUGE improvement to the 18" shoulder between a white line and a jersey barrier, which most of the crossing still consists of.
I amend my answer. If its solid composite, I'll ride on that any day.
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Old 12-19-05, 06:53 PM   #10
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Thank god for trikes. I'd ride my trike as close to the right as I possibly could on picture one. I'd look down through the grate without fear. I'd turn on my blinkie during daylight for good measure, too. If my trike is too wide for the shoulder, I'd have to roll my left wheel over the line a bit. If I saw a big trunk approach in my mirror, I'd roll my right wheel up on the concrete barrier a tad so as to fit my whole self inside the line.

Pic 2 looks like a breeze. I'd take up the shoulder.

If we're limited to bikes, I think I'd walk my bike on pic one. Then I'd never do it again. Pic 2 looks like a breeze for a bike, too, so I'd just ride in the shoulder.
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Old 12-19-05, 07:08 PM   #11
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Hmm, I've never had to negotiate a bridge like this.

I think for picture #2 I would just stay in the BL.

For picture #1 I would ride in the right tire track, yeilding right occasionally. When I got to the grated section I would yield to the right in favor of the better riding surface, but only until I got past that section. Then I would move back out to the right tire track.
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Old 12-19-05, 08:22 PM   #12
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I forgot, like Treespeed mentions, at the center pull span there are signs directing bicyclists to "walk bikes next 100 yards" which I always ignore; if riding it you have to jump the drawspan gap which is a fist width, metal edged battlement with gnar bolts sticking up out of it; the slot runs across the roadway almost parallel to the direction of travel (pull span drawbridge) I'm in the lane for this, pedalling furiously, trying to bunny hop the gap with a loaded touring bike...i'll get pictures of this portion on my next crossing.

This bridge is so heinous, I always stop before every crossing at an off the road spot, to mentally prepare myself. Eat a little food, focus my alpha dog traffic-mind-control steely gazes, void my bladder because it's so dicey I've almost peed my pants riding the damn thing, take some deep breaths, and say a quick prayer while clipping back in...

This bridge is the only way across the Hood Canal, otherwise you add 80 to 100 miles cutting around the south end.

Last edited by Bekologist; 12-19-05 at 10:33 PM.
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Old 12-20-05, 12:19 AM   #13
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I'd be in the same postion you are riding.
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Old 12-20-05, 01:10 AM   #14
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...
Pic 2 looks like a breeze...
That's an interesting choice of words It's more like crazy wind and crazier gusts out to get you and throw you right in the path of the 18-wheelers. I would really really not like to ride on that bridge by myself but in pic 2 I think I'll be in the shoulder, probably not in the middle but a little closer to traffic
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Old 12-20-05, 01:35 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by CommuterRun
Hmm, I've never had to negotiate a bridge like this.

I think for picture #2 I would just stay in the BL.

For picture #1 I would ride in the right tire track, yeilding right occasionally. When I got to the grated section I would yield to the right in favor of the better riding surface, but only until I got past that section. Then I would move back out to the right tire track.
That sounds like the same thing I would do. I might actually walk for the section marked to walk, though. I HATE metal grate bridges (thankfully I only have to ride them is when I visit Chicago) and I can't bunnyhop worth beans...
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Old 12-20-05, 05:05 PM   #16
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That's an interesting choice of words It's more like crazy wind and crazier gusts out to get you and throw you right in the path of the 18-wheelers. I would really really not like to ride on that bridge by myself but in pic 2 I think I'll be in the shoulder, probably not in the middle but a little closer to traffic
I guess I don't have enough experience with bridges, but pic #2 looks like it has a lot of room to me. Maybe the wide angle is fooling me? I can't imagine a wind stiff enough to blow me out of that football field of shoulder. I guess I'd have to experience it for real to really know for sure. I don't doubt what you all are saying, it just doesn't appear that bad in the photo so I can't imagine it very well.

(You know, a trike can't be blown over, so maybe this is one of those places it's advantageous to ride a trike.)
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Old 12-20-05, 05:44 PM   #17
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I wouldn't be able to ride it at all. I have a phobia about birdges. If I can see the water or ground under my feet, forget about it. I would literally be frozen with fear.
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Old 12-20-05, 06:19 PM   #18
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No offense Bek (Ya know I love your posts), but that first pic looks like the amount of space and road conditions I ride out here on the old indian trails of the Northeast.

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Old 12-20-05, 06:31 PM   #19
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No offense Bek (Ya know I love your posts), but that first pic looks like the amount of space and road conditions I ride out here on the old indian trails of the Northeast.

Looks like home to me too.
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Old 12-20-05, 06:33 PM   #20
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Looks like home to me too.
BTW Chip, Love the new avatar - I'm sure you don't want me to sit on your lap, but I'd love a second ATC-1000 (and maybe another 1GB SD card... and maybe some more rechargable AAA's)
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Old 12-20-05, 06:53 PM   #21
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BTW Chip, Love the new avatar - I'm sure you don't want me to sit on your lap, but I'd love a second ATC-1000 (and maybe another 1GB SD card... and maybe some more rechargable AAA's)
I'll let you in on a little secret...<whisper>Santa can be bribed</whisper>

Wait till you see the after Christmas avatar!
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Old 12-20-05, 06:59 PM   #22
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I'll let you in on a little secret...<whisper>Santa can be bribed</whisper>
Of course he can... But cookies are peanuts.
I know that Santa wants pie.
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Old 12-20-05, 07:49 PM   #23
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Of course he can... But cookies are peanuts.
I know that Santa wants pie.
Santa leaves Harleys, Vette's and Ti bikes for people who leave pie on the coffee table.
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Old 12-20-05, 08:36 PM   #24
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Santa leaves Harleys, Vette's and Ti bikes for people who leave pie on the coffee table.

And here all I want is another $80 camera so as to thwart the evil and vindicate the good.

I think I could get away with just an Apple tart with a melted sliver of sharp chedder.
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Old 12-20-05, 09:00 PM   #25
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And here all I want is another $80 camera so as to thwart the evil and vindicate the good.

I think I could get away with just an Apple tart with a melted sliver of sharp chedder.
A blonde tart would be better.
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