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Thread: Tell me about the Memorial Bridge

  1. #1
    lordofthemark's Avatar
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    Default Tell me about the Memorial Bridge

    Rode my bike in on Wednesday, did not ride home Wed (because of the meeting at Tucker ES - I would not have had time for dinner before the meeting, and would have had to ride home on unfamiliar roads after 9PM) or last night (thought Friday night would have better weather). Now it turns out we have a social engagement in upper NW tonight, so I decided to come in to town tomorrow (which works out more than usual) and get the bike for a day time ride. Its about time to take it back to bikenetics for a tune up, I think, so seems like a good time to see what its like riding from DC to Falls Church. Google maps suggests my usual commute route across the 14th street bridge, then the MVT to the Custis. That is boring, plus it will mean doing the Custis hills westbound in the rain. I am more drawn to the second route - Eye street to 4th Street SW, up the 4th street bike lanes to the mall, west on Madison to the Memorial bridge, then up around Iwo Jima memorial to the rte 50 trail then up (a huge hill?) to Wilson, west to Ballston, and then onto the Custis there. Several places I have never ridden, plus the chance to stop for a pick me up somewhere in the RB corridor.

    but - google maps is not at all clear about which side of the bridge to ride on, or details of accessing it. Also my impression is that the Virginia side involves some dangerous road crossings? I guess some people here have detailed knowledge of the bridge and its ins and outs, which I would enjoy hearing about.
    Last edited by lordofthemark; 12-05-2014 at 09:54 AM.

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    Here is what I do to get to Iwo Jima in my pedicab - if you can ride it at 6 mph you can and feel safe you can ride any bike.

    Take 4th to the Mall head down the mall. At 14th street cross over to the sidewalk around the Washington monument and head right, then turn left onto the side path on the south side of Constitution street - it is wider and there are fewer pedestrians than on the independence side path. Ride down to henry bacon drive and you can take the street or the side path which ever works better for you. At the Lincoln memorial either cross in front or on the wide sidewalk behind to the south side of the Lincoln. Take the crosswalk over 23rd street and follow the sidewalk on the south side of the memorial bridge. Once Across the bridge take the crosswalk that crosses GWP at the circle, and continue over the boundary channel bridge south sidewalk. Stay on the sidewalk past the memorials to the rangers, etc, and the metro escalators. Just before the entrance to the visitor center for Arlington Nat. Cem you will see a road on the opposite side of the street with a paved (macadam) side trail, Take that trail and it will take you to the Netherlands Carillon and Iwo Jima. You can stay on the road that the path puts you out on and turn right just before the entrance to the Fort Meyer. This I think is Lynn Street which you can take all the way to the custis, or to Wilson. I'll let someone else guide you through Arlington.

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    In regards to crossing Memorial Bridge, I always cross on the south side. The south side of the bridge is slightly more crowded, but I find the south side crossing of GWP (technically it's Washington Blvd) to be much safer than the north side because of the sightlines (north side has cars coming from curves either off the bridge or off the circle while south side has cars coming from a straight way).

    If you're looking for an alternate route once you've passed the Iwo Jima memorial, you could try this route (I use this route frequently since I live a block off Pershing Drive near Glebe Road):
    Iwo Jima memorial -> Meade St -> south side Arlington Blvd service road -> Arlington Blvd trail -> Pershing Drive -> Henderson Rd -> Arlington Blvd service road/trail/sidewalk -> Granada St (half a block) -> W&OD which will take you into Falls Church
    This route largely skips the R-B corridor along with the big mess that it can be, but it does hit a few restaurants/stores along Pershing/Arlington Blvd that you could stop at.

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    dasgeh's Avatar
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    A third for the South side of the Memorial Bridge. The crossing of 27/Washington Blvd has good sight lines, and while cars don't always stop, you can see them. The path to the Iwo Jima is beside the ramp for cars to get to 110 -- it's the only exit to the right for cars so it's pretty easy to find. Most bikes cross from the sidewalk to the road at the intersection before the Metro, then take the road and use the crosswalk across that exit to get on to the trail (I promise it makes sense once you're there).

    Note the BIG HILL starts before the Iwo Jima, and lasts until you get to the level of Clarendon or Pershing & 50. You have some options:
    - Ride through Fort Myer (you need an ID)
    - Enjoy the new trail along 50
    - Head into Clarendon (this is the Custis version, but the Bluemont version would be a little less hilly)

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    Steve O's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dasgeh View Post
    - Head into Clarendon (this is the Custis version, but the Bluemont version would be a little less hilly)
    This is the route I take. (Oh, and one more vote for downstream side of Memorial Bridge)

    One additional note. The intersection at Wilson and Washington can be slightly confusing for first timers. You need to completely take the right lane as you cross the intersection and then immediately turn right into the slip lane onto Fairfax Drive.

    Here's what it will look like as you cross Washington Blvd. You will be turning onto the road that is just behind the white truck.
    The reason you need to take the lane is because of the bulb out by the walk signal. It is dangerously narrow at that point, and cars will buzz you.
    If taking the lane makes you nervous, then cross as a ped in the crosswalk where the guy in the striped shirt is.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve O View Post
    This is the route I take. (Oh, and one more vote for downstream side of Memorial Bridge)

    One additional note. The intersection at Wilson and Washington can be slightly confusing for first timers. You need to completely take the right lane as you cross the intersection and then immediately turn right into the slip lane onto Fairfax Drive.

    Here's what it will look like as you cross Washington Blvd. You will be turning onto the road that is just behind the white truck.
    The reason you need to take the lane is because of the bulb out by the walk signal. It is dangerously narrow at that point, and cars will buzz you.
    If taking the lane makes you nervous, then cross as a ped in the crosswalk where the guy in the striped shirt is.
    And if you recognize that red building in the middle, that's because it's Northside Social a popular forum Happy Hour spot as seen here:
    Name:  Northside Essig.jpg
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  7. #7
    dasgeh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve O View Post
    One additional note. The intersection at Wilson and Washington can be slightly confusing for first timers. You need to completely take the right lane as you cross the intersection and then immediately turn right into the slip lane onto Fairfax Drive.
    And immediately stop at Northside Social for coffee/tea/treats. It's a requirement for biking through there, especially in the middle of the day when the line isn't too long.

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    lordofthemark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dasgeh View Post
    And immediately stop at Northside Social for coffee/tea/treats. It's a requirement for biking through there, especially in the middle of the day when the line isn't too long.
    Made it to northside. Place packed but soup good. And chance to dry off a bit before heading to falls church. More on route later.

  9. #9
    lordofthemark's Avatar
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    4th street bike lane had the usual bike lane issues - a car stopped in the lane, construction blocking part of it, and just enough traffic in the general travel lane to make passing the obstacles uncomfortable. From there on to USMC memorial was good, thanks to the great directions above, I made every turn correctly. One issue - if you take Henry Bacon south from Constitution to the Memorial, taking the lane, you end up needing to make a left from a right turn only lane (that or go right to the sidewalk for a Copenhagen left) I did the scofflaw vehicular left, but wondered if there was a better way.
    There is basically no signage at the NL Carillon or the USMC memorial coming up from the 110 MUP. I went around the east and north sides of the memorial, and found no way to cross Meade - I should have gone the other way around the memorial. I ended up doubling back to 14th to get across Meade, and then guessed my way onto the rte 50 path. After that it was fine - the hill up Rhodes was okay, going slowly in low gear in the bike lane, and ditto going up Wilson. From there west it was familiar, though I have done it eastbound more often.
    Nice to see the fine folks at Bikenetics again. The Dew is there now.

    Edit: I forgot to mention the bike box on Rhodes at Wilson. Thanks to it I made a vehicular left there, whereas otherwise I might have gotten nervous about the traffic and done a box/Copenhagen left.
    Last edited by lordofthemark; 12-07-2014 at 11:41 AM. Reason: Remembered more infrastructure

  10. #10
    dasgeh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lordofthemark View Post
    Made it to northside. Place packed but soup good. And chance to dry off a bit before heading to falls church. More on route later.
    Sorry, didn't realize you were planning this for a Saturday. Yes, Northside is packed all day on the weekends. But glad you enjoyed it.
    Quote Originally Posted by lordofthemark View Post
    One issue - if you take Henry Bacon south from Constitution to the Memorial, taking the lane, you end up needing to make a left from a right turn only lane (that or go right to the sidewalk for a Copenhagen left) I did the scofflaw vehicular left, but wondered if there was a better way.
    I, for one, never take the lane on Constitution (for more than a few blocks between 15th and Virginia) - I always cross over to the sidepath on the south side of Constitution (no intersections!), then turn onto the path along Henry Bacon. I don't think I've seen many cyclists on Henry Bacon -- drivers are crazy there.

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