Wednesday, January 20, 2016

city of bridges, part I: steel bridge

Riding a bicycle in Portland gives me all sorts of different vantage points. And at least a dozen of them come from the many bridges that span the Willamette River. Over the next feww weeks, I'll share a little about riding over my favorites.

The Steel Bridge, built in 1912, offers a lower deck for bicyclists and pedestrians. I LOVE riding over this bridge when I make a loop going along the Esplanade on the east bank, and the seawall along Waterfront Park on the west side. I will often arrange it so I end up downtown and can grab a cup of coffee before going home. I get lovely views of the river all along this loop. A nice set of switchbacked ramps can get me down to the bridge from the Rose Quarter Transit Center.

(Steel Bridge in background)                           

One of my favorite parts of this loop is that I can stop anywhere along the route and capture great views of the downtown skyline (from the east bank), or other bridges as I cross over the river.
(On the Esplanade, a nice place to bring lunch)

The Steel Bridge is best crossed on the lower deck, which is much wider and roomier. There is a narrow sidewalk along the upper deck; but it is so narrow that if you find yourself behind a pedestrian there is almost no room to pass and you will have to coast slowly and patiently.

(On the lower deck, heading home)

Looking to the south from this bridge you can see the Burnside and Morrison Bridges quite easily. Looking to the North, you can see the Broadway and Fremont Bridges easily; you'll have to look really hard to see the St. Johns Bridge beyond that.

A treat (for me, anyway) is crossing along the lower deck while a train comes through. The rumbling and the noise are terrific! The Light Rail crosses over the upper deck, and the noise, while quite present, isn't as thunderous.

To begin the loop from the other end of this long, skinny passage, enter the Esplanade from the Hawthorne Bridge (signs and ramps will point your way; watch for walkers and mind your speed).
There are coffee shops within easy biking distance of each end of both these bridges, and if you're patient you'll easily spot geese, ducks and other waterfowl making themselves at home along the east bank of the river. Go and enjoy!

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