Friday, April 4, 2008

A Day to Dry Out

I opted not to ride so as to dry off. Rain was in the forecast, but aside from that, were I to hold off for a day I would be able to pass through Philadelphia on a Saturday and arrive in New York on a Sunday. I would be drastically cutting down on the amount of traffic I would have to contend with in both cities opposed to riding on a weekday.

As I was eating breakfast in the morning I looked out the window and saw a sign on the road reading “Last Exit Before Toll" I was expecting to ride over the bridge further down the road and was having doubts, as bicycles generally can’t ride on toll roads. In this case there were two bridges running over the Susquehanna River, so I assumed that surely a bicycle would be permitted over one of them. The first bridge was an Interstate Highway so I knew that was out, but thought I would be OK on the other bridge. I called the local police to check with them and no; it wasn’t legal for me to ride over the bridge. Who builds two bridges right next to one another where bicycles or pedestrians are not permitted on either? I decided to go a step further and call the Department of Transportation. I explained the story about my bike ride and asked if there was any way I would be able to ride over one of the bridges. While I initially hit a wall, I finally got someone to give me the number to the bridge authority and the folks that were actually in charge of the bridges. In a 15-minute call I tried anything I could to try and get them to let me ride over a bridge. I asked about paying for an escort over the bridge among other things, but the conversation ended with a gruff, "there is no way a bicycle is permitted over the bridge under any circumstances" I was stuck. As it was a toll bridge, there was someone there to physically restrain me from riding across were I to try and go for it. The next closest bridge that it would be safe for me to cross the river was in Pennsylvania, 30 miles to the northwest as the crow flies.

There was a bike shop in town so I checked with Walter, the owner of the shop, what the deal was. It turned out that it the bridge was indeed not an option. Walter was doing work for the East Coast Greenway, a project that will eventually provide a bike route from Florida to Maine. The biggest sticking point in the area was how to cross the Susquehanna River. It was only when Walter agreed to shuttle cyclists over the river that the bike path was finalized for the area. That meant that I was going to have to hitch a ride over the river with Walter.

I took the day off to stay out of the rain and while the sky was still a dirty grey, I didn’t see a drop of rain the whole day. It just wasn’t my day. I had an argument with a security guard at a supermarket who didn’t want me to walk through a certain door, and later had to wait 40 minutes for my food to come out at Pizza Hut. I just hope my luck will turn around tomorrow.

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