Hood Canal Bridge to Get Safer Bike Lanes…But Not for Awhile

This post was written by our guest blogger Doug Cantwell of Seattle. 
Bad News: The Hood Canal Bridge bike lane presents a hazard to cyclists.

Good News: WSDOT has announced plans to refit the grated section of the bridge with a wider, safer bicycling surface.

The Catch: It won’t happen overnight.

Photo:  Dana Berg/Squeaky Wheels
When the new, improved Hood Canal Bridge reopened in June 2009, bicyclists were disappointed—some say appalled—to find the same narrow steel plating laid across the grated section for their use that they’d come to fear and loathe on the old dilapidated bridge. 

The majority of the floating structure offers a generous 8-foot-wide lane, but on the grated section, cyclists must negotiate a 3-foot-wide steel plate that is further reduced in effective width by fasteners to about 18”.

“It’s pretty scary,” said Barbara Culp, executive director of the Bicycle Alliance. “If you’re carrying panniers, it would be easy to bump them on the railing, careen off onto the bare grating and go down hard.”

Barb reported that the narrow plate has caused a half-dozen spills—none of them serious—in the two years since the reopening, but she considers it “a major accident waiting to happen.”
Under pressure from the Bicycle Alliance, Port TownsendBicycle Association, West Sound Cycling Club and Squeaky Wheels (a Bainbridge Island cycling advocacy group), WSDOT recently announced plans to refit the narrow plating with a 5-foot-wide usable surface. Federal and state funds totaling $1.3 million have been allocated for the project.

However, the state won’t be accepting bids for the work until 2012. So until the contractor gets hired and the new plate is installed, let the bicyclist beware…!
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