The Spa Creek Bridge connecting downtown Annapolis and the Eastport neighborhood has always been treacherous for cyclists (and scooters and runners). The State Highway Administration (SHA) has finally answered the call and placed a 3′ non-skid covering on each end, making it significantly safer for cyclists who routinely ride across the bridge that connects the very popular sections of Annapolis.
The drawbridge surface is a metal grating which makes great sense because it’s very strong for its weight and drain wells. However, as anyone who has ever ridden across this bridge knows, it is tricky at best when dry and absolutely terrifying at worst when wet because the grate offers very little traction and the pattern makes a bike tire ‘”wander”. When wet, it was very easy to have the bike quickly side out, similar to the effect of riding on ice. Numerous crashes with varying degrees of injury have been reported over the years. Bridges with this surface are derisively known as “cheese graters”.
As far back as the publication of the Annapolis Bicycle Master Plan in 2011, public and private advocates, including BikeAAA after its formation, have asked for a non-skid covering for the bridge. This is particularly important to BikeAAA as it is featured in the 65 and 100 mile Lifeline 100 routes. In 2019 after seeing a covering on several similar Bridges in Miami FL, we asked the City of Annapolis to formally request SHA investigate installing such a covering on the Spa Creek Bridge. Thanks to the persistence of the city staff, SHA announced last year that design of the covering was nearly complete and would be installed.
As of January 14th, the project was completed with the covering of the northbound lane. I have now ridden across the bridge on the new covering numerous times in dry and wet conditions and can report that the footing is very predictable with great traction and the change in surface is almost unnoticeable except for a slight change in sound. Now you can enjoy riding bikes or scooters between downtown and Eastport without the stress or fear of navigating the bridge.
A big thanks to the staff in Annapolis Planning and Zoning for seeing this to the end and to SHA for the implementation. Because I am sure most of the feedback SHA gets is negative, it was important to provide some positive feedback when they implement such a valuable feature so I sent the following thank you note to them:
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart and all the skin on my body for installing the non-skid grates on the Spa Creek Bridge in Annapolis. This has been a very dangerous bridge to cross in both wet and dry weather – we in the cycling world call these “cheese grater” bridges – and this covering makes it a pleasure to cross. We have been asking for this since the publication on the first Annapolis Bicycle Master Plan in 2011 (pg 51) and I am very pleased the current management of District 5 has heard the call and acted on this important link between two very popular spots, downtown Annapolis and Eastport. This is very important for mobility around the area as we encourage people to use other forms of transportation besides automobiles. Thank you again!”Alex Pline