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I commute across the WW bridge, and I agree, the joints are annoying. I have to true my wheels much more often than I normally would.

Thanks to Mr. Washcycle for posting this.

I strongly encourage people who have had damage to their property to speak up to the SHA. I sent them a list of damaged/lost items and that seemed to get their attention. SHA seems clueless on bicycles, but the do understand property damage.

I just bunny hop them, but I get it that everyone can't do that

I've only ridden it once, but I was shocked by how jarring the expansion joints were. Evidence of engineers and designers that have no concept of what it's like to ride a bike and no desire to put much effort into creating a good design. The car lanes, on the other hand, have a continuous smooth surface to drive on. Imagine that.

Any pictures?

I too bunny hop the expansion joints to minimize the bone jarring effect on me and the bike. I look forward to the response and solution by MD SHA.

Wilson Bridge joints aren't as bad if you have thicker tires. My bike has 2" tires and, while jolting, I didn't have any damage from them.

I bunny hop them as well, as well as the horrible joint on the Pennsylvania Avenue bridge over Rock Creek. However, when you miss a bunny hop--and eventually you will--it's even worse. I ruined a rim there.

There's a downhill stretch of River Road where there are large metal plates covering the entire right lane for about a hundred feet before a light. Several overlap, creating vertical metal edges about 2-3 inches high.

The trick on a wet day is to manage to traverse this stretch, never braking and bunny hopping the edges, all while hoping the light does not change to red.

They broke the ulock holder on my old hybrid last winter when I road them for my team in the local BAFS competition. I hate those things. I never understood why they were there either. It's one of the biggest reasons I avoid the bridge on an otherwise very nice trail there.

I get why expansion joints are needed,but can't they put some kind of "bridges" over the ones on the path? Something flexible like plastic or hard rubber that would only be bolted down on one side so it could move with the joint?

How skinny are people's tires? I found the joints annoying but hardly catastrophic on my 37s.

The times I've had problems were usually my road bike, with 23s, although my city bike with 25s will sometimes pinch flat if I'm not careful. Of course, they're no problem on 2.1 mountain tires, but then you're grunting around everywhere else.

If the road has a continuous surface across the joints, then it does not seem like there is any reason why the bike lane should not have a solution. I can grab some pictures on my next commute if this is necessary.

If you slow down the expansion joints are not a problem even with narrow racing tires. I'm very very happy the new WW bridge has a pedestrian/bike crossing. The old WW bridge was as a disaster and didn't have a pedestrian crossing. I don't want to appear ungrateful by complaining about the expansion joints. Rather than complain I want to thank the bridge planners for including a bike path on the WW bridge.

@James: the road has joints as well (needed for expansion/contraction of the bridge due to temperature changes). But they're much less noticeable in a 4+ wheeled vehicle.

Update: Maryland SHA is doing an inspection today. https://twitter.com/AlexandriaBiker/status/517702026776821760/photo/1

@James: the expansion joints in the main traffic lanes are car-tire friendly but bike tire unfriendly. Here are photos of the expansion joints for bikes and cars:

Here's an update from Maryland SHA.

October 21, 2014
from: Monica Lane

This e-mail is in response to your recent inquiry concerning the expansion joints on the multi-use pedestrian/bicycle trail on the Woodrow Wilson bridge. State Highway Administration officials visited the bridge to evaluate the condition of these expansion joints and observe what issues pedestrians or cyclists crossing over the bridge may have with traversing these expansion joints. There were no tripping hazards found or difficulty for pedestrians to cross the joint safely. Bicyclists did not have issues with traveling across the joint either.

Those bicyclists observed were traveling at a normal safe speed for this mixed use trail. The joints themselves did not appear to be any different then what would be normally found when traveling on the pathways or sidewalks leading up to the bridge. The plates in the joints do have a taper along their edge to reduce the height of any gap that is formed during the expansion and contraction of the bridge. From this investigation and our observations, we have determined that the expansion joints do provide a safe crossing for both pedestrians and bicyclists.

Thank you for your inquiry, please contact us if you have any questions.

Robert G. Bofinger, P.E.
Team Leader
Structures Remedial & Engineering Division.
Office of Structures
State Highway Administration
707 N. Calvert Street
Baltimore, MD 21202
(o) 410-545-8309
(f) 410-209-5047


I rode the Wilson Bridge for the first time last month. I noted the expansion joints and dealt with them by bunny hopping.

You update tells me that Maryland SHA thinks they are fine as they are. I think if the trail had the same joint treatment that the road service did everybody would be happy. Has SHA said why the different treatment?

Rode this today. The people at Maryland SHA are idiots.

I've only ever tried to bike the Wilson Bridge going westbound, and both times I've been pulled in by the siren call of the downhill bike lane on National Ave since there aren't any wayfinding signs telling you to continue south to Harborview Ave.
National Ave is nice enough until the bike lane ends abruptly (see map). The first time I took that route I found myself having to merge in with 40 mph car traffic with no warning, only to find myself swooping down into an area where my only options are to take freeway on ramps (http : // goo . gl/maps/XusFG). I eventually had to hop the median and backtrack in the eastbound lanes until the retaining wall ended.

I think technically you're supposed to turn left on the east-west road to connect with the trail on Harborview Ave, but right now that road is closed due to casino construction.

I'm sure I can't be the only one who's gotten lost on the gigantic racetrack that is National Harbor, and it wouldn't take much to put up some more signage to avoid that.

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