Thursday, December 21, 2017

#HumansOf520: Connecting communities across Lake Washington on the SR 520 Trail

By Ben Lennon

We opened the SR 520 bicycle and pedestrian trail Wednesday all the way across Lake Washington – the first-ever non-motorized cross-lake connection alongside this highway. This trail extension adds a new route to the regional trail system and links communities on both sides of Lake Washington.

Whether you're a serious bike rider, a casual commuter or a weekend explorer, we built the new SR 520 Trail for you! Over the past decade of work, phase by phase, planners, designers, engineers and construction crews built the world's longest floating bridge and its bicycle/pedestrian trail. Each chapter of the SR 520 project has to be phased in an exact order to keep people moving and to maintain crews' access to complete the job. Opening the trail marked the completion of another SR 520 phase. Rain or shine, we hope to see you out on the trail soon.

Whenever you decide to adventure out to the new SR 520 Trail, be sure to check out our bicycle and pedestrian counter at the western end of the trail. This counter displays a running total of how many people crossed the western end of the new SR 520 trail. As of Wednesday night, the counter had already reached more than 1,800!

#HumansOf520

Over the past few months, we've heard many community members express excitement about being able to cross Lake Washington without a car or bus. Using the trend #HumansOf520, some told us they will use the SR 520 Trail to connect to families, jobs, classes, exercise routes and more. With the trail now open, we want to take a moment to highlight these #HumansOf520 and thank them for sharing their stories. No matter how you plan to use the trail, we can't wait to see you out there!
Santoshi, top left: "I'm 12 years old and a middle school student in the Bellevue-Redmond area. The Seattle Central Library is one of my favorite destinations to explore but there is no easy way to get to it using a bike from Bellevue. When the path opens all the way to Seattle on Dec. 20, I'll be able to bike from Bellevue to Seattle (across the world's longest floating bridge) to get any books I want even from the Seattle area! It's been my dream for nearly a year now.

Ben, top middle: I am excited about taking my 5-year-old daughter on a bike ride from Seattle to visit her grandparents in Bellevue. She rides on the back of a tandem bicycle with me (she has a special raised-up set of cranks so she can reach).  We have been watching the SR 520 bridge construction progress over the years and are excited about the opportunity for a new way to experience our area.

Teri, top right: Loki, my 2-year-old Australian shepherd, has had boundless energy since he was a puppy. When I heard the 520 trail would open all the way to Seattle, I knew Loki would want to make the 3-mile trek across the lake - so on December 20, come rain or shine, we plan to cross Lake Washington as a new adventure. Who knows? Maybe he'll be the first dog to cross the lake on 520!

Charles, bottom left: Once the path opens I will have shorter commute options, better choices for transit across the lake and I will be able to enjoy evenings in the city without having to worry about waiting for a bus on a late night-schedule to get home across the bridge. I am excitedly looking forward to many new adventures with my family and a healthier, shorter, eco-friendly and more relaxing commute."

Vince, bottom middle: "Here's the deal - I run with a fantastic group of people, the Greenlake Running Group. We have more than 4,000 members on Facebook, but about 400 active members who attend one of our 12 weekly runs. We are always looking for new long-run routes, and many of us are looking forward to the 520 - I-90 Loop! The longest floating bridge in the world, and the widest floating bridge in the world!

Lauren, bottom right: When I finished my [Certified Public Accountant] classes in fall of 2016, I began searching for employment at public accounting firms throughout Seattle. I received offers from two firms - one in downtown Seattle and one in downtown Bellevue. I absolutely loved the one in Bellevue, but I was nervous about a cross-lake commute. However, this was the beginning of my new career and I knew that the Bellevue firm was the right fit. I also knew that the 520 bike path was under construction, and that one day I would be able to bike commute to Bellevue. So I said "yes!" to the Bellevue firm. Here I am, one year later, and I'm so glad I prioritized my career over a shorter commute.
Petra, top left: I am so excited when the 520 bike trail is open!  During summer, early fall and late spring I commute to work by bike. I live in Kirkland (near Bridle Trails) and I work at the University of Washington Medical Center. I do enjoy this commute but it is very time consuming. Once the 520 bike trail is open, it will cut my commute miles from 46 miles to 26 miles!

Jenny, top middle: My cycling friends and I are excited about creating a loop starting on Mercer Island, heading east to Enatai, heading through Medina up to the 520 Bridge, crossing to the Arboretum, then heading back to Mercer Island for a new exercise loop.

Mark, top right: It's the final link between Ballard and Bellevue. I plan on commuting via the bridge on my e-bike – one more car off the road!

Lyle, bottom left: I currently commute on the Sound Transit 540 bus from the South Kirkland Park and Ride to and from the University of Washington Medical Center. There are times where I know I will miss the last bus of the day, forcing me to drive on those days. With the opening of the bicycle/pedestrian lane across the 520 bridge, that will no longer be an issue.

Robin, bottom middle (at right): My sister lives in Montlake. I live in Bellevue. Now, after 43 years of biking around the lake, and we are both in our 70s, it will be nice to have a shorter bike ride to visit each other.

Steve and Kris, bottom right: My wife and I live in Kirkland, and plan to bike over the new 520 bridge trail as soon as it is completed to visit our grandkids in NE Seattle. What a great way to stay fit and visit family!

Teddy, not pictured: Right now I take two buses to my work in Kirkland. When the bike bridge is completed, I'm hoping to bike to and from my work, 20 miles round trip, every day, rain or shine. Ambitious goals I know, but this bridge would make it possible!

Jeff, not pictured: We live in Kirkland, and my son and I are looking forward to riding our bikes to football games at Husky Stadium.

Laurie, not pictured: I can't wait. I will be using the bike trail to ride to Bellevue for fun and shopping. Yay!

Alex, not pictured: I am 42 and have been waiting for a bike path across 520 my entire life. Growing up in Redmond, my friends and I would take the bus across the lake into Seattle to ride our skateboards, visit the cool shops, see concerts, whatever. Metro routes 251, 254, and 255 were our lifeline, our connection to a real city. A path we could've biked/skated/walked across would've been so great, and I hope today's kids use it for adventures.

The day the new path opens, I'm going to ride a bike to that Cross Kirkland path and meet my old friend for a beer. I'm gonna take my time, and ride back to my home in Seattle whenever I want. I may cry a little. This is big. Very big. It will surely become one of the All-Time Bike Paths within a week of its opening. I'm excited. Thanks for finally getting it done!
Thank you to all of our #HumansOf520 for sharing your stories with us and the community!

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