Bike Texas Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge Ride

When the plans for Santiago Calatrava’s Margaret Hunt Hill bridge were finalized a lot of folks were disappointed that it did not include pedestrian or bicycle lanes. We were promised that a crossing would be provided on the proximate Continental Bridge, which was being converted to a park. There is no other good way to cross the Trinity in that part of town without an internal-combustion engine. The final designs still don’t have the promised through-lanes – but it will open in June, we’ll see how it works out.

At any rate, there is a powerful urge to cross the bridge without a car. It is an impressive, imposing, work of art – and you don’t get a good look from a speeding vehicle. There was a big celebration on opening day, where people were allowed to walk across, but I was out of town and missed it.

Finally, last Saturday, after two years, they had another event planned – the All Out Trinity Festival and I would be able to ride my bike across the bridge. I wanted to get down there right when the ramps opened, but Notting Hill was on TV – so I had to watch the end again.

I packed up my commuter bike and rode down to the Arapaho DART station. As usual, the train was pulling out just as I arrived on the platform, so I had to wait for the next one.

I was later than planned, but the timing worked out as I met a couple of friends riding through Downtown Dallas on the way to the bridge. We fought our way up the steep entry ramps onto the bridge itself.

It was a real thrill to ride on the bridge. Everybody was on the Westbound lanes – across the divider the Eastbound traffic still roared by. The pavement would vibrate like a monstrous guitar string whenever a big truck would rattle past.

There were a lot of events planned and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but a group from Bike Texas gathered together for a ride through West Dallas – that sounded like a plan.

Bike Texas Group on the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, Dallas, Texas (click for larger version on Flickr)

Bike Texas Group on the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, Dallas, Texas
(click for larger version on Flickr)

Bike Texas group on the bridge, with the Dallas skyline in the background. (click for full size version on Flickr)

Bike Texas group on the bridge, with the Dallas skyline in the background.
(click for full size version on Flickr)

Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, Dallas, Texas (click for larger version on Flickr)

Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, Dallas, Texas
(click for larger version on Flickr)

We headed West on Singleton. After a couple miles we passed Fish Trap Lake on the right – where I had ridden a couple months ago to visit the rainbow-colored pier, Dear Sunset, by Ugo Rondinone. The chromatic jetty was part of the Nasher XChange installation – now that the project has ended I wonder how long the pier will remain. It was good to see it still in place. People were out on the pier, so maybe they have even cleaned the bird shit off the wood.

dear sunset Ugo Rondinone West Dallas, Texas (click to enlarge)

dear sunset
Ugo Rondinone
West Dallas, Texas
(click to enlarge)

We rode down another mile and turned up to Tipton Park, where there is a new trail and pedestrian bridge.

Bike Texas ride at the Pedestrian Bridge in Tipton Park, West Dallas, Texas (click for full sized version on Flickr)

Bike Texas ride at the Pedestrian Bridge in Tipton Park, West Dallas, Texas
(click for full sized version on Flickr)

Pedestrian bridge, Tipton Park, Dallas, Texas (click for full sized version on Flickr)

Pedestrian bridge, Tipton Park, Dallas, Texas
(click for full sized version on Flickr)

Pedestrian bridge, Tipton Park, Dallas, Texas (click for full-sized version on Flickr)

Pedestrian bridge, Tipton Park, Dallas, Texas
(click for full-sized version on Flickr)

Riding back to the bridge, I was struck by the reaction of the people in the neighborhood. They acted like they had never seen a bicycle before – excited and astounded; some laughed, some clapped, some merely stared.

We arrived back in time for beers at Four Corners Brewery. The only thing better than a fresh local brew is one earned. I had an Oatmeal Stout and their IPA – both excellent. While we were standing around chatting, a thick column of smoke appeared to the south. Fire trucks were dispatched and the black soon turned to gray, then disappeared. Today, I found out that the fire was in a new construction across the street from the Belmont Hotel. Luckily, nobody was hurt.

The entertainment continued as we watched the police arrest a belligerent drunken woman that was stumbling down the street. She fought mightily, but in vain as they strapped her in the back of a cruiser and hauled her to the clink.

It was getting late, the sun had set, and until the Continental Bridge opens, Trinity Groves is a tough place from which to reach a DART station. I decided to ride down into the Trinity River bottoms and go a few miles south to the Corinth station, next to the Santa Fe Trestle Trail. This is the same route I took to visit the Dear Sunset Pier.

I certainly don’t recommend riding alone in the river bottoms at night – but it worked out for me. My lights were adequate to find my way in the pitch wilderness, while the multicolored jeweled towers of Downtown Dallas reached skyward off to the east. The day’s route was a fifteen mile bike ride (plus the four miles from my home to the DART station) with a lot of time spent hanging out and around with a lot of cool people – a good day.

It had been warm, on the edge of hot, a good eighty degrees – but as I rode home from the station I felt the wind switch around to the north and the temperature begin to drop. In twelve hours the temperature would be around twenty degrees and the ground covered in a healthy layer of tiny balls of ice. Springtime in Texas.

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