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Old 02-19-07, 12:25 AM   #1
Bekologist
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drawbridge, narrow lanes, traffic, ped walkway. what to do?

Here in Seattle there's a drawbridge that is a main N-S bike commuter route. for the last six months there has been construction that has limited it to two lanes of traffic versus 4. I have been riding it in a certain way. I wanted to get some input. i'll post some pictures in the next couple of days, but I'm not riding with the camera much.

Scenario: Bascule drawbridge with metal grates. span is only a couple of hundred feet of grating, and a few hundred yards of approach, but with the two lanes of traffic on it, bottlenecks up with significant traffic during the day. cars back up 3 to 4 light cycles during rush hour sometimes.

Narrow lanes (10 feet wide) drawbridge also has a seperated 4' wide pedestrian walkway - on only one side - due to the constructution. Foot traffic, joggers, walkers across the walkway pretty much all hours, slowing a bike down to a walking pace.

Heading north and west after the bridge requires a bicyclist to do a two part turn, coming off the walkway at a traffic signal, then crossing the bridge way to head west. unfortunately, this is one of the main bicycling routes for commuters and all bicyclists.

the same procedure has to be repeated by bicyclists coming south that uses the walkway. Riding from all points north, a crossover of the bridge way onto the ped walkway, then a second crossback at the south end of the bridge into riding position towards downtown.

This is an inconveinence to bicyclists and has been for the last six months, and looks to continue until 2008.

When traffic is backed up during rush hours, where would you ride?

The walkway, that requires ped speeds and a two or three step pedestrian style crosswalk crossing?

Would you split the narrow lanes on the drawbridge, dicing the double yellow between cars across the metal grating, dodging car mirrors to expedite your crossing?

Would you wait several traffic light cycles in traffic, and stand a chance of being delayed by the bridge going up, and still ride the metal grating?

Would you ride a metal drawbridge grate at any time, even when traffic isn't bad, or would you go pedestrian and have to do crosswalk style turns at the ends of the approaches over this drawbridge?

I have been using the ___________________ method.

This is the Fremont Bridge in Seattle, for any Seattle local riders.

Last edited by Bekologist; 02-19-07 at 12:41 AM.
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Old 02-19-07, 12:30 AM   #2
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For one, don't try to cross when the bridge is up.

Second, don't try to speed across if the bridge starts to go up. Any good movie buff will know that never works.


Seriously though, it really depends. Not knowing the bridge or it's traffic I couldn't say with any certainty, BUT

Depending on how traffic was, I would ride through. I am bad about being a rule follower though, and would not split the lane or filter, but wait my turn like any other part of traffic.

If making the crossings and walking my bike across was actually faster, I would take that method.

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Old 02-19-07, 01:12 AM   #3
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I'd whip oit a camera
drawbridges are soooooo cool, and I've never seen one in action
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Old 02-19-07, 07:56 AM   #4
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I'd go right up the middle !!!!!

YESH !!!!!
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Old 02-19-07, 08:30 AM   #5
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Not familiar with your bridge...but having crashed heavily on a slick steel grate drawbridge in the past, I think I would take the path of least resistance which IMHO would be to dismount and become a ped just for the length of the bridge then remount and become traffic on the other side. I suspect it would still be faster than sitting in a car or waiting in line with traffic.

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Old 02-19-07, 08:34 AM   #6
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How many peds really obstruct the route? We're only talking about 3 city blocks that you have to go slow by using the ped path and most of that route is unobstructed. It does not seem as bad as you state. Use that route.

Filtering up a bridge in the middle of a yellow line with cars on both sides on a grated steel bridge is dangerous! You slip on that bridge between both cars and it can be serious.
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Old 02-19-07, 10:34 AM   #7
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http://www.seattle.gov/transportatio...approaches.htm

I found this.

That sucks.
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Old 02-19-07, 10:48 AM   #8
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I think I posted this local traffic issue to show that vehicular cycling sometimes needs to be put aside, and riders need to adapt to local conditions, using walkways, sidewalks, and two part crosswalk turns, even on slow speed roads.

The walkways have always been slow. the only way to go vehicular during the retrofit on this bridge is to split narrow lanes of traffic or wait several minutes as traffic slowly crawls across the construction zone, and still ride the bridge grating. I've only seen 3 of us riding the grates on road gauge tires, ever. Almost ALL cyclists use the ped walkways, even before the construction.

Side topic, one begging its own thread, how narrow is too narrow to share lanes of stopped traffic? some of us can split a 10 foot lane, some might think 15 foot wide outside lanes are a requirement before 'splitting- sharing' lanes. I think the urban hardcore might have more flexibility on lane sharing....
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Old 02-19-07, 11:17 AM   #9
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I think I'd have to see it to effectively weigh the options, but it's highly likely that I would use different tactics depending on the time of day and traffic conditions. It also might depend on whether or not I was riding a fat tire bike that day, with respect to the metal grating. I would also take into consideration whether it would be more time consuming for me to choose the road over the path. Another thing I would think about is whether or not I'm towing a trailer. Towing a trailer would make it less likely that I would choose the path.

I would either get in line with the rest of traffic or take the path. With respect to my own safety and just out of courtesy to the motorists, I would not split the lanes. I wouldn't even consider sharing a 10' lane over a bridge.
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Old 02-19-07, 01:45 PM   #10
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Sounds like everyones inconvenienced regardless of the mode of movement.

-You can be a scofflaw and ride the middle
-You can be a "vehicle" and wait in traffic
-You can be a pedestrian and walk across.
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Old 02-19-07, 04:51 PM   #11
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If I take it upon myself to share a narrow lane of traffic, why can't I do so, and not be considered a 'scofflaw' by the motoring public?

Cars 'share' plenty of narrow lanes with me by speeding by me closely, why can't I share lanes with them while they are stuck in a traffic jam? just one question arising from this discussion.

why is sharing a narrow lane of stopped traffic considered a 'scoflaw' manuver by another bicyclist, dobber?

I can share the lane safely and legally, using my personal analysis of passing safely and in accordance to applicable traffic statutes in regards passing traffic....

I like to split the lanes on the drawbridge becuase it is thrilling and chaps the hide of the drivers stuck in traffic. I'm a thrillseeker, despite my personality

I'm still listening to others' analysis as to why or why not split narrow lanes on a drawbridge, and what would put cyclists in pedestrian mode- not walking, but riding slow on a sidewalk, with crosswalk crossovers- in the described scenario.
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Old 02-19-07, 05:00 PM   #12
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I might share a lane, but wouldn't ride up the center line. If the lane is not wide enough to share, I'd go over the walkway. No matter which method I use, I'm riding past as much traffic as I can to get to the bridge.
I wouldn't act like a knife thrower at a gunfight, so why act like a car at a traffic jam?
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Old 02-19-07, 06:04 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bekologist
why is sharing a narrow lane of stopped traffic considered a 'scoflaw' manuver by another bicyclist, dobber?
I think what's putting people off about sharing a narrow lane of traffic is that most assume the auto traffic is moving. With stopped traffic, passing cars in a 10 foot lane isn't too bad assuming they lined up straight and left biased. On a bridge, I'd want a tall barrier to my right though

The same goes for lane splitting. I do not want to be toeing the line between two lanes of moving traffic but if it's all stopped, I'll do it with a reasonable amount of caution.
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Old 02-19-07, 06:08 PM   #14
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Since I'm neither a thrill-seeker nor wanting to chap any hides I think I'd just take the pedestrian route. I'd probably be a scofflaw and ride on the pedestrian route, not dismount, unless it was just impossible to ride at all on the pedestrian route. Of course, on the trike I would not dismount.
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Old 02-19-07, 07:01 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bekologist
why is sharing a narrow lane of stopped traffic considered a 'scoflaw' manuver by another bicyclist, dobber?
I'm referring to the act of splitting the lanes and riding the yellow line between the two lanes of opposing traffic.

Aside from the obviously danger, if a car or motorcycle were to pull out and perform that stunt, it would surely be a ticketed offense. Reminds me of those drivers who bomb up the closing lane in road-construction areas and then try and squeeze merge into the slowed traffic.

I've got no issue if I were a driver and you were in front of me riding the lane, assuming you'd waited your turn in traffic just like the rest of us lemmings. No cutsies by filtering forward, wanna be treated like traffic, gotta be in the traffic.

I'd probably opt for dismounting and hoofing it across the ped-way.
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Old 02-19-07, 08:42 PM   #16
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I would pass to the right of stopped cars, until I reached the moving cars, then I would move into the middle of the lane and ride across the bridge. If the steel grating were wet, or if I had tires narrower than 32 mm, I would take the sidewalk.
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Old 02-19-07, 10:15 PM   #17
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we have a drawbridge here in town with metal grating for the road surface. I ride it on my road tires and it works ok, however I would not reccomend it in wet conditions because the metal grate gets dangerously slippery.

Depending on traffic and the available space between cars I would either sit in line with the cars and wait for traffic to move, or try to split the middle.
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Old 02-19-07, 11:23 PM   #18
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Bekologist - I ride the "sidewalk" across this bridge and I don't really feel it's my place to be there. But I don't see a better option for me so I use it anyway (I'm not comfortable taking my road bike across the grated section). I just don't go balls to the wall across the sidewalk around the pedestrians like some cyclists do.

Here is what I do though...

Going toward downtown: I stay on the sidewalk after crossing the bridge. It becomes a path along Westlake Ave. At the first opportunity, I cut across Westlake Ave to the correct side of the street and take Westlake toward downtown. That way I don't have to deal with the crosswalk situation required to get onto Dexter Ave, which I think most people are using. Note I'm doing this at 6:30 a.m. so the traffic is very light, allowing me to get across Westlake Ave. Other times of day this is probably not advisable.

Going north: If I can, after passing the grated section of the bridge, I hop off of the sidewalk back onto the street. Then (sometimes) I can make the left onto 34th St without having to do the crosswalk routine again.

This is really annoying though... It can take almost five minutes to get from one side of the bridge to the other sometimes.
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Old 02-19-07, 11:57 PM   #19
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sestivers-

since the plan to "Fix" the bridge was announced a year and a half ago, I took to riding the bridgeway instead of the walkways, and found that much more expedient to my riding style. I've also advocated to riders on the Cascade boards to also take the bridge roadway.

The new approach "Fixes" actually make it more difficult for a bike to launch off the walkways and into the traffic lanes- the 'improvements' are actually going to make it TOUGHER for bikes to reenter the roadway- a feature I particularily detest. notice the raised "Curb" where before there was a nice down ramp at the north end of the E walkway (and south end too)? I'm assuming they will use a bike unfriendly raised curb to limit road/rider mixing on the West side once the bridge is "fixed."

riding right down the middle gets me more room than in the lane along the outside of the bridge, that's for sure.

Anyway, I'm the guy, one of the few, you might have seen crossing the bridge in the traffic lanes. When the bridge is up, i ride right to the front, and wait in front of the traffic, glancing over at the bikes and peds lining up for the walkway debacle. I'm the guy pulling pole position across the bridge.

I've only encountered two other riders that have taken the bridge grating on road bikes in the last 12 months, even last summer, and one is a co-worker from the bike shop, who i illuminated the expediency of using the bridge travel lane, versus the walkway.

This lack of accomodation for bikes across the Fremont Bridge is troubling, to say the least. The new built-in limitations on bikes reentering the traffic stream are what will keep me riding the grating on the drawbridge once the bride rework is finished.

Honestly, i think Seattle's new 'master plan' bike treatment is going to remove bike friendly infrastructure, and place more restrictions on riders, limiting the bikeabiliy and rider counts in our city. i think it is a nefarious, john forester influenced plot by chestbeaters that demand bikers act like cars, get stuck in traffic, etc.

the new fremont bridge difficulties for bikes to remix with traffic is just one small indicator, the lack of a road diet along stone way to favor Suzie Burke's business properties is another sign of seattles' growing bike unfriendliness.

my prediction- net loss of bike infrastruture, declining numbers of bicyclists, and a mayor and populace playing 'dumb' to the whole biking as transportation issue. theres certainly a backlash against bicyclists in Seattle on roads right now like never before.

mass transit, traffic reduction- emphereal to seattlites. the drivers don't want us bicyclists out there, and the master plan is going to help make it happen!

Last edited by Bekologist; 02-20-07 at 12:10 AM.
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Old 02-20-07, 01:33 AM   #20
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I took the Ballard Bridge grated section sort of by accident once... would you say the Fremont Bridge's section is easier to handle? I'm sure it's shorter. If you tell me that the Fremont Bridge is a piece of cake compared to Ballard then I'll probably consider going with the cars.
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Old 02-20-07, 09:43 AM   #21
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haven't compared the two. the lack of traffic signals modulating the flow on the ballard bridge and the "Speedway" effect from speeding & distracted drivers doing 45 MPH across the ballard bridge has always disuaded me from crossing that one on the bridgeway....

I think they need to improve both bridges for the advantage of bikes. As far as I've read, Fremont drawspan can never be improved because its a historical structure. That's SOO limiting. Stick a city with ever-changing traffic dynamics to the 'historical' design of a 90 year old bridge? the ciy should be unfettered to tear a bridge down and put in something more up to date.
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Old 02-21-07, 01:54 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bekologist
haven't compared the two. the lack of traffic signals modulating the flow on the ballard bridge and the "Speedway" effect from speeding & distracted drivers doing 45 MPH across the ballard bridge has always disuaded me from crossing that one on the bridgeway....

I think they need to improve both bridges for the advantage of bikes. As far as I've read, Fremont drawspan can never be improved because its a historical structure. That's SOO limiting. Stick a city with ever-changing traffic dynamics to the 'historical' design of a 90 year old bridge? the ciy should be unfettered to tear a bridge down and put in something more up to date.
What many places do, when they have such a historical structure to give it more capacity, is to build another bridge nearby, then one direction of traffic uses the old bridge, and one uses the new bridge. The new bridge could even be a block away, then turn two streets into oneway streets for the crossing. Double bridges are actually quite common.
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Old 02-21-07, 09:46 PM   #23
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We already have the Aurora (WA-99) bridge.
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