Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Biking The 4 Bridges On Early Sunday Mornings

There's no better time to bike in the Tampa Bay area than very early on a Sunday morning or a holiday morning.

Few cars on the road mean less threats. There's nothing inherently dangerous about riding a bicycle, but here in the Tampa Bay area there's always an occasional motorist who does not want to slow down to go around a bicyclist or who is distracted by his or her phone.

That's why I love lonely roads, when it's just me on my bicycle and the rare driver heading to work or visiting a friend or family member.

It's a great time to ride the 4 Bridges, my 50-mile ride when I follow a bridge across the Hillsborough River and three Bay bridges -- the Clearwater causeway, the Bayside Bridge in Clearwater and the Gandy Bridge.

The Courtney Campbell Causeway between Tampa and Clearwater has good and bad features.

The good? The frontage roads along the State Road 60 causeway that allow you to pedal next to the water.

But there's also the challenge of biking across the big span on the Tampa side where the shoulder is a mere three to four feet wide. It's not very pleasant biking when cars are zooming by your left shoulder by a foot or two.

Which is why I and SWFBUD support the Florida DOT plan to build a trail and new bridge along the causeway.

When biking in the bike lanes around Tampa Bay, you still have to be careful. I feel bike lanes reduce the risk of being struck by a motorized vehicle, but it's no automatic safe haven.

Plus, there's glass and debris in the bike lanes and also in Tampa there are even wheelchairs coming right at you in the bike lane. This fella was wheelchairing it against traffic in the bike lane on Manhattan Avenue in Tampa.

When there's only a few cars on the road during these early mornings, I see the individual cars very close up -- more than when there are many vehicles because the line of cars creats a blur effect.

That's why when I'm biking and a giant vehicle such as a Range Rover, Expedition, Excursion, Suburban or Hummer speeds by, the enormity of the vehicle is so apparent. Those vehicles don't seem to be built at a human scale.

The 4 Bridges Ride is a good early Sunday ride. It's great to bike on hilly country roads but I also get a kick out biking quietr and lonely main roads that are perfectly safe when there's only an occasional motorized vehicle.


Anonymous said...

I call those dudes "salmon"

Anonymous said...

Please tell about the Bayside bridge. I haven't been on it. Is it legal to bike accross or is it restricted as part of a parkway.? Is there a sidewalk or wide accident lane to bike in?