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Old 01-05-06, 12:21 AM   #1
Bekologist
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Here's pictures of another bridge crossing in the Northwest, Highway 99 from Downtown Seattle to Fremont.

Highway 99, as it rolls thru seattle and across the Ship Canal via the Aurora Avenue Bridge, is a six lane, narrow lanes, undivided, no center lane truss bridge with traffic moving at 50-60 miles per hour if congestion doesn't slow it down. To the right of the traffic lanes is a 4 foot wide sidewalk separated from the traffic lanes by an eight to twelve inch curb and a newly installed 4 foot metal barrier railing. The 3 pictures in the top row, and the lower left picture show the Aurora Bridge choices, from the east side walkway.


Would you choose to ride

1) in the lanes of traffic across the Aurora Avenue Bridge? or
2) on the railed and seperated walkway?


The bridge is over a quarter mile long, and traffic also merges at the the approaches to the bridge via high speed ramps. Traffic across the bridge is averaged by the WSDOT of over 100,000 cars a day.

Now, a VC puzzler gambit, is option number 3 - a lower crossing of the Ship canal via Dexter Avenue and the Fremont bridge.

Dexter Ave heads across the lower, Fremont drawbridge that closely parallels the route below the Aurora Avenue Bridge. the 2 far right pictures of the lower row show Dexter Avenue.

The Fremont Drawbridge and Dexter are lower on the hill by about 200 feet. Much lower volumes of traffic, 25-35 miles per hour, two lanes of traffic and bike lanes in both directions.

For the sake of this puzzler, assume all routes will place you across the Ship canal at roughly the same spot, within 5-6 blocks at the North end and within 75 yards on the South end of both Aurora and Dexter. The dexter route is marginally slower.

Where do you position yourself across the Lake Union Ship Canal? and why?

in the Traffic lanes on the Aurora Ave Bridge?
on the segregated walkway on the Aurora Ave Bridge?
Or lower down in the bike lane on Dexter Ave?
Attached Images
File Type: jpg bus2.jpg (24.9 KB, 34 views)
File Type: jpg truck1.jpg (26.8 KB, 41 views)
File Type: jpg bus3.jpg (14.8 KB, 29 views)
File Type: jpg bus1.jpg (39.0 KB, 33 views)
File Type: jpg dexter2.jpg (22.4 KB, 31 views)
File Type: jpg dexter1.jpg (26.3 KB, 33 views)

Last edited by Bekologist; 01-05-06 at 08:42 AM.
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Old 01-05-06, 01:36 AM   #2
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There are a couple of options I would be comfortable with. First choice would be the bike lanes on Dexter. I am not familiar with the route but it looks like there is sufficient room even if a door swings open. The lower traffic volume and speed also makes moving out into the right lane feasable if needed. Second choice is the walkway on Aurora. If it was crowded with pedestrians and other bikes, I would dismount and walk (I sometimes do this on the St. Johns Bridge in Portland). I would not use the traffic lanes on Aurora given the traffic volume and speed.

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Old 01-05-06, 09:39 AM   #3
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How can you ask such a question of the Aurora bridge without even mentioning the troll? (See atached pic from 2003)

I would take the Fremont Bridge route based on my recollection of the area. If I were to take the Aurora bridge, I would be on the sidewalk, pushing/walking if necessary.

I spent several years as a young child in the Fremont area (in the early/mid 60's), and went to B. F. Day Elementary school, which is just a couple of blocks from the north end of the bridge (the side with the Troll). I always like to venture through that area when I am in Seattle.
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Old 01-05-06, 10:38 AM   #4
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With a calm alternate route like Dexter I would take that over the noise and gale-force gusts of wind on the bridge any day. If I had to take the bridge I would use the sidewalk without question. On Dexter I'd use the bike lane. Looks like a decent one.
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Old 01-05-06, 10:51 AM   #5
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I think I would take Dexter...

While the sidewalk on Aurora may be useable... I have a feeling that it is a walk situation as it is so narrow.

On the other hand, what is the speed of traffic on the Aurora... if it is less then 35MPH, and the rise of the bridge is not that great, then it is no different from some areas I now commute that are just as busy with parked cars on the side... I have to take the lane in that case, and do. Heck, three lanes going in my direction, and I take only one... it's no big deal.

But most likely, due to the quiet factor, I would find an alternative, such as Dexter.

Edit: Just went back and re-read the OP... with traffic at 50-60MPH on Aurora, Dexter is the best choice hands down.

Last edited by genec; 01-05-06 at 12:07 PM. Reason: Whoa, just went back and reread the OP....
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Old 01-05-06, 11:18 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bekologist
Where do you position yourself across the Lake Union Ship Canal? and why?

in the Traffic lanes on the Aurora Ave Bridge?
on the segregated walkway on the Aurora Ave Bridge?
Or lower down in the bike lane on Dexter Ave?
Good one, Bek. None of these are ideal cycling routes. I would most likely use the bike lane on Dexter, although I really don't like those parked cars. I ride in the "door zone" all the time, but that's at very slow speeds downtown, not at cruising speeds.

I'm not sure which I would list as my second choice. I'm usually reluctant to get off the bike and walk it, and I find that the dismount/mount points are usually safety concerns. Car drivers don't expect a pedestrian on the sidewalk to spontaneously become a vehicle driver on the road. I might opt for taking the lane on the Aurora bridge depending on current weather and traffic conditions, its a toss-up.
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Old 01-05-06, 11:28 AM   #7
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I'd probably be down on Dexter, using the road where conditions on the BL might present a problem.
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Old 01-05-06, 12:03 PM   #8
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Bek,

I think this is a bit of a loaded VC puzzler. You should mention to the forum that Dexter is practically a bike freeway, while only a suicidal rider would bother with the Aurora Bridge. Motorists are used to seeing tons of cyclists on Dexter and I've never
had a run in with a motorist on this street, ever. Dexter, in my opinion, is one of the nicest pieces of urban cycling in all of the city, lots of room, lots of cyclists, and aware motorists. The Aurora bridge is a freeway to be avoided. I never even liked walking across that span.

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Old 01-05-06, 01:30 PM   #9
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Off topic...I want to know how you took the two photos of the bus. I have this image of you standing on the bridge...click, spin, click.
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Old 01-05-06, 01:35 PM   #10
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I think they are two different buses, maybe three. I was experimenting with a new, pocket digital video recorder. These were jpegs, but the cycle rate as a still camera is pretty fast.

I'll have to admit, the new railing, installed between the traffic and the sidewalk, makes the walkway less enjoyable to ride over.

I spent a half hour videotaping and filming and only saw one pedestrian cross the bridge and no other bicyclists.

Last edited by Bekologist; 01-05-06 at 02:40 PM.
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Old 01-05-06, 02:28 PM   #11
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I'm with treespeed. Dexter is a pleasant ride, whereas the traffic lanes on the aurora bridge would be really dangerous.
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Old 01-05-06, 02:36 PM   #12
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White line on Dexter. Looks great to me.
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Old 01-05-06, 02:39 PM   #13
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I remember this bridge now; that's the one I saw when I last visited Seattle. I also remember the troll.

If I were to cross the Aurora bridge, I would do so on the roadway portion, taking the lane, no question about it. This would be much faster than the narrow sidewalk with vertical hazards on both sides. The sidewalk is so narrow that even two wheelchairs would not be able to pass one another, making it in violation of ADA.

The Dexter route is indeed much more pleasant for cycling, and I would take that as long as it didn't add much time to my trip. For example, if my trip endpoints were close to each end of the Aurora bridge, and I were cycling primarily for transportation, I would use the Aurora bridge rather than descend the hill and climb back up again on the other side.

On the bike-laned roads in Seattle, I would ride outside the debris zone and outside the reach of parked car doors. On many Seattle roads that would put me on the bike lane stripe or just to the left of it.

I consider Seattle a paradise for cycling, with excellent street redundancy and connectivity, particularly among what I consider to be low-volume low-speed streets, reasonably low speed limits observed by drivers on the arterials, and wide pavement on many of the arterials providing ample space for drivers to pass cyclists on the roadway safely and conveniently withough changing lanes. My only complaint would be the needless use of bike lane striping on what would otherwise be ideal examples of wide-lane roads, thus creating unnecessary door-zone lanes and debris lanes.

By comparison, my own "suburban" design home city of Cary NC tends to have very poor street connectivity, i.e. through streets are spaced on a grid larger than a mile apart, with most of the useful through roads having design speeds of 50 mph. A new city policy on collector road planning for new and improved development aims to change this by providing more alternative low-volume low-speed routes and more efficient access between different land use types.

-Steve Goodridge
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Old 01-05-06, 03:05 PM   #14
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Dexter, out of the door zone, unless a) congestion on Aurora slowed traffic down to 35 or less; and/or b) I had a lot of frustration to burn off.
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Old 01-05-06, 03:32 PM   #15
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I am always perfectly willing to climb a hill or to go out of my way to ride on a safer, more pleasant street or to avoid a tricky intersection.
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Old 01-05-06, 05:40 PM   #16
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Fremont Bridge.
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Old 01-10-06, 09:19 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John E
I am always perfectly willing to climb a hill or to go out of my way to ride on a safer, more pleasant street or to avoid a tricky intersection.
I often do this, but there's a limit for me.

For instance, if the time I save by taking the less pleasant route will make the difference between being late for a meeting or not, or having time to bike to work versus drive the car, I will take the less pleasant route.

If I remember correctly, the bridge in question is on a slope. In the downhill direction, I bet I could exceed 30 mph on the bridge with less extra physical energy than it would take to ride the alternate routes and climb extra hills. Crossing a 1/4 mile bridge at 30 mph would take about 30 seconds. If it were a wide lane, and if a car passes me every 5 seconds, which is more frequently than I experience on average on busy roads, that would be only six cars for the length of the bridge, passing at a worst case speed difference of 25-30 mph. No worse than I experience climbing hills on the arterials where I live, which I do frequently, for longer durations. But on the narrow lane road, just a couple of cars would arrive behind me before the traffic slows quite a bit with drivers changing lanes to pass, resulting in fewer cars starting from my lane actually passing, and at slower speed but wider separation.

Going uphill on that bridge, however, would take a 2-3 times longer and involve more passing at greater speed differential. That would make the alternate routes seem much more attractive at less of a time penalty.
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Old 01-10-06, 12:19 PM   #18
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Dexter (the bike lane), for sure.

If I had to take the Aurora bridge, it would be on the walkway-- although after a snow, that walkway would be nearly unusable and miserable even to walk on.

The Aurora traffic lanes, I would avoid, although I might be tempted if conditions were ideal-- like 6:30 AM on a perfect Sunday in June with sparse traffic.
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Old 01-10-06, 12:58 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sggoodri
I often do this, but there's a limit for me.

For instance, if the time I save by taking the less pleasant route will make the difference between being late for a meeting or not, or having time to bike to work versus drive the car, I will take the less pleasant route.

If I remember correctly, the bridge in question is on a slope. In the downhill direction, I bet I could exceed 30 mph on the bridge with less extra physical energy than it would take to ride the alternate routes and climb extra hills. Crossing a 1/4 mile bridge at 30 mph would take about 30 seconds. If it were a wide lane, and if a car passes me every 5 seconds, which is more frequently than I experience on average on busy roads, that would be only six cars for the length of the bridge, passing at a worst case speed difference of 25-30 mph. No worse than I experience climbing hills on the arterials where I live, which I do frequently, for longer durations. But on the narrow lane road, just a couple of cars would arrive behind me before the traffic slows quite a bit with drivers changing lanes to pass, resulting in fewer cars starting from my lane actually passing, and at slower speed but wider separation.

Going uphill on that bridge, however, would take a 2-3 times longer and involve more passing at greater speed differential. That would make the alternate routes seem much more attractive at less of a time penalty.

That is as about as realistic an assesment a cyclist could make... Noting that the big issue is speed differential... if one moves at the speed of the rest of traffic, it doesn't matter where you are on the road, but on the other hand, if you are the one slowing traffic, then the motorists will tend to vent frustrations upon you and your odds of being involved in an "unpleasent situation" go up dramatically.
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