520 Trail gets so close, yet so far

IMG_5392Medina just got an awesome new park.

You can now walk or bike 1.3 miles from Evergreen Point out into the middle of Lake Washington on a floating bridge, bringing you tantalizingly within reach of Seattle.

But for another year, the gloriously wide trail complete with scenic outlooks is just there for Eastside recreation. The 520 Bridge construction schedule won’t connect the trail to Montlake until summer 2017. When it finally does, regional bike transportation will never be the same.

But for now, you’ll run into this just a few thousand feet from Montlake:

IMG_5406And though the trail will connect to Montlake in summer 2017, it will be many years (exact timeline still unknown) before it fully connects to the bike network. Here’s the official timeline for trail work:

BikeMap_2016_July26-bridgetimeThe good news, however, is that the trail will be much better than the I-90 Trail, which is itself pretty great (especially for the time it was built).

IMG_5396The 520 Bridge Trail is several feet wider, and that makes a huge difference. Though collisions on the I-90 Bridge are rare, they do happen. People walking and biking share the space, which can be unpleasant for everyone when it gets crowded.

And the 520 Bridge provides several spaces to stop out of the flow of the trail. There are even seats for taking a load off and looking out over Lake Washington.

IMG_5401 IMG_5395Aside from the whole freeway expansion element of this project (and the horrendous plans for Montlake Boulevard), the trail itself is great and will be an incredible and long-overdue addition to the regional bike network.

The expansion gap covers are a bit too jarring, especially since the rest of the trail is so smooth.

But since WSDOT has a whole year before this trail opens for real, we do have one nitpick suggestion: The expansion joint covers are a bit too jarring. I can imagine people crashing when they hit the first bump, largely because the rest of the trail is just so smooth that they may not expect such a big bump. It surprised me when I hit the first one. Making the ramp up for each bump more gradual would go a long way.

If you want to try it out, you can either bike down the 520 Trail from the Eastside or take a bus across the bridge from Seattle and get off at the first top (Evergreen Point). Or, or course, you can add an out-and-back trip on the bridge to your Lake Washington Loop ride.

About Tom Fucoloro

Founder and Editor of Seattle Bike Blog.
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5 Responses to 520 Trail gets so close, yet so far

  1. Joe goeke says:

    Yes, the expansion joint covers are not needed I don’t think. They are not on the roadway.

  2. bill says:

    Metal expansion joints can be dangerous when they are wet, and in strong crosswinds which the bridge will have. But this cure may be worse than the problem. In addition to jolting bicyclists, the covers may trip runners.

  3. Pingback: What We’re Reading: Inequitable Access, Signless, And Revised Design Guidelines – The Urbanist

  4. Darby says:

    Reminds me of the Bay Bridge in Oakland, still a lovely ride!

  5. AP says:

    Note that it’s just a beautiful park for the east side because the west side folks were all NIMBY about the new bridge. It would have been nice if the Seattle side weren’t a bunch of sticks in the mud.

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