Sunday, February 22, 2009

Bridges of Tampa Bay


I have biked a few.

George Washington Bridge. Used to bike this one every workday as part of my bike commute into Manhattan from Jersey in 2000 and 2001.

One of most memorable visits to the GWB was when I started on the Manhattan side of the bridge and biked 158 miles in one day to Albany in 2005 to remember a fallen bicyclist who lost his life while cycling.

Golden Gate Bridge. I crossed it on my first cross-country bike trip way back in the fall of 1983.

How about the Tappan Zee Bridge? Ever hear of this one? Bicyclists are not allowed on this one -- it's an amazing string of pearls that spans the Hudson River and links Westchester County with Rockland County about 30 miles north of the GWB. Didn't stop me. Got a ticket. But it was worth the ride in the late summer of 1982.

I like bridges.

So, today I did a 50-mile bridge ride. The Courtney Campbell Causeway, the Bayside Bridge and the Gandy Bridge. And what the hell, I threw in the little Platt Street Bridge in Tampa.

For you folks who are curious about the route, it was the Causeway to the Bayside to 49th Street South to US 19 to Gandy to Bayshore back in Tampa to Channelside to 15th Street in Ybor City and back to Seminole Heights.

These are rare bicyclists along SR 60 in Rocky Point. They followed a path next to SR 60 and ran into a blockade and just turned around and headed back. I won't see these folks on the causeway.

Here's why biking on the Causeway is fine. You just have to get there. There is a terrific frontage road that I took. But you do have to bike on the main road when all you have is the main span and a smaller span closer to Clearwater.

You're on top of the main span of the Clearwater causeway. Not much of a shoulder up here. Maybe 4 1/2 feet or so. It takes strong nerves to bike up here with cars whizzing by at 65-70 mph.

Now you see why biking across the causeway is incredible. Look how close you can wheel next to the Bay.

You're looking at the Bayside Bridge. It was a first for me. Lots of room on the shoulder. No problem biking on this bridge.

While on Gandy on the way to the bridge, I stopped by the Frankie memorial in front of the Derby Lane dog track to pay my respects. RIP Frankie.

Here you go -- the Gandy Bridge, heading east from Pinellas County/St. Pete into Hillsborough County/Tampa. Check out the shoulder. Lots of room. To me, I feel safe when I bike on this shoulder. The cars pass with feet to spare. It feels safer to me than biking on most Tampa streets.

Just another day of biking in the Tampa bay area where other bicyclists are biking the wrong way against traffic without a bike helmet.

SWFBUD efforts prompted the DOT to install this Share the Road sign on the Tampa side of the Gandy Bridge.

Back in Tampa I followed Bayshore Blvd. It reminded me why I don't bike on the road. The road surface is jarring. And then the bike lane disappears about a mile from downtown.

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