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Weeks-long U Bridge bike lane closure starts Monday

From the construction notice (PDF)

The roof on the east tower of the University Bridge is leaking. There’s also a water pipe that needs replacing. And, unfortunately, the city needs to close the northbound bike lane in order to make these repairs.

Work is scheduled to begin Monday and last two or three weeks, depending on the weather.

The good news is that the sidewalk will remain open, and work will only be conducted mid-day to avoid most of the commute rush. But the sidewalk is very skinny and pretty busy already, so be prepared to walk your bike if needed.

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You can bike in the general purpose lane, but we do not recommend it. Especially when it is wet, the metal grate surface can be extremely slippery.

The closure will only affect the south section between the tower and Fuhrman Ave E. But there is a knee-high cement barrier between the sidewalk and the bike lane, so you’ll either have to stay on the sidewalk all the way or lift your bike over the barrier. For many of you, that’s not a big deal, but it might not be option for people with cargo/family bikes. Well, unless you want to practice your Disaster Relief Trials skills…

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11 responses to “Weeks-long U Bridge bike lane closure starts Monday”

  1. Kristin Dubrule

    As I’ve been griping much about on Twitter, I highly recommend against taking the car lanes, particularly if it’s wet. About a month ago, I opted to take the car lane to get around a blockage in the bike lane, slipped, crashed, and broke my cheek bone (among other injuries). Not fun times.

    1. William C.

      Which sort of bike were you on? I haven’t biked the University Bridge, but I’ve taken the car lanes on the Montlake bridge fairly often with my hybrid bike, without any problems at all.

      1. Kristin Dubrule

        This is my bike (I think; probably close enough):

        I’d biked the grating on the Fremont bridge a few times with no problems, so I didn’t think this would be a problem; not sure if the grating is different, or if the rain just made it much worse.

      2. William C.

        Hmm, looks like the same tires I have. It might’ve been the rain, but just in case, I’ll make a point of staying off the University Bridge car lanes.

        Thanks for the warning.

      3. Rain makes an enormous difference in traction on metal surfaces. Not just bridge gratings, but manhole covers, those “MOTORCYCLES USE EXTREME CAUTION” patches, storm drains, ventilation grating, train tracks…

        If there’s one thing that’s different about the U Bridge, it’s that it’s on a slope (at least I think the draw span is on a slope), while the Fremont and Montlake bridges are nice and flat. This places extra demands on traction, in both directions, for obvious reasons. While I normally hardly notice manhole covers, for example, I nearly wiped out on one a couple years ago coming around a curve on a descent on wet ground.

        On some bridges in Chicago there are bike lanes painted on the metal grating (or at least there were when I lived there; it looks like they’ve fixed some of ’em U Bridge style). They’re really fun when it gets icy (it’s like riding on a sheet of ice in traffic, a death trap of a similar magnitude to ice on the part of the lakefront trail that’s tilted down toward Lake Michigan, which I think is part of a plan to stem the tide of people moving away from Illinois by killing them first). When it’s dry they’re mostly no big deal.

    2. Andres Salomon

      People are going to take the car lane if the detour sucks. And if SDOT doesn’t provide ramps, requires people to lift bikes over a 1ft or 1.5ft tall wall (it’s a different height in different places, and requires people to use a sidewalk that is less than 4ft (and in some places, less than 3ft) wide, this detour will suck.

    3. doug

      I concur. I am a very experienced cyclist and I never, ever take any grated bridge surface when it’s wet. It is one of the only things that genuinely terrifies me on a bike.

  2. Andrew Squirrel

    While I would probably take the car lanes for this detour please be aware the cheese grader can mess you up. Check out the results of a friend that fell on Univ Bridge primary lanes back in 2009 (warning: bloody bits!):

  3. I think the barrier might continue long enough that if you don’t want to hop it, your only real options on the north end are a staircase to the Burke-Gilman, a long ramp to the UW West Campus/40th St, and a dirt path cutting across the 40th cloverleaf to Campus Parkway. Sucks if you’re trying to go north on 11th (or really taking any option other than 40th).

  4. What is the purpose of having such a high barrier b/w bike lane and sidewalk? Maybe just open two “gates” in it around the construction area by cutting it down to 2″?

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