Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Filling the gap for safer bicycle travel across the bridge

We are working hard to address several items communicated to us by the biking community. We are aware of the challenges bicyclists have experienced on the Hood Canal Bridge’s new grated roadway. We are sorry that bicyclists were injured and hope they are better soon.

Although the new Hood Canal Bridge was designed and constructed with bicyclists in mind, the new grated roadway was not created for bicycle travel. The designed and recommended path to travel is along the eight-foot concrete shoulders (as they have ample riding room) and along the shoulder areas on the trusses and draw span as they feature special, solid, non-slip surfaces.

From now through September, bicyclists are unable to access eight feet of the shoulder area on the east truss because concrete barrier lines the roadway to provide safe worker access during anchor cable connection operations. In this situation, we recommend dismounting and walking your bike over the grated roadway.

Some bicyclists who have chosen to ride on the grated roadway to go around the barrier have had trouble navigating a small gap that runs lengthwise down the east truss. We are installing material that will fill this gap in the grated roadway until the shoulders are fully reopened. Even with this fix, we still recommend bicyclists use extra caution and/or other travel options (i.e. walking their bikes) around the concrete barrier.

Additional temporary signage will be added soon on the bridge to alert bicyclists to the roadway conditions. We will keep you posted as we adjust what we can to offer the safest access possible when crossing the bridge.


eldan said...

You really screwed up here. It's not simply that the bridge is a deathtrap for cyclists in its current state (imagine if there had been a car right behind this: http://lh3.ggpht.com/_bI-u8HcuVYU/SkjF27q79sI/AAAAAAAABPM/iAE78kQSwhA/s400/HCB%2009_24%20Rob%27s%20bike.jpg ), but it was made far, far worse by the complete failure to warn us.

I can understand that sometimes it takes time to completely finish a project, but cyclists have been itching to ride over a new bridge that had been advertised to us as massively improved over its predecessor. So now that you announced to great fanfare that it's open, and said nothing about "but not for cyclists till the end of summer", people are eating road.

Please fix this properly before someone dies, and if a facility is not ready for cyclists make that abundantly clear before we discover it empirically.

irwinj@wsdot.wa.gov said...

Hello Eldan,

As soon as we became aware of the potential problem for bicyclists on the new grates, WSDOT took corrective action and installed rubber material to fill the gap.

We certainly don't want anyone else to eat road, as you put it.

The bridge is open to bicyclists wanting to enjoy the scenic views of the Olympic and Kitsap peninsulas this summer. And we hope people continue to do so.

We are working to get signage posted, but ask that bicyclists use extra caution until the Jersey barriers are removed.