A Tale of Two Bridges – June 2013

I returned with my bike in 2011. Walking my bike across, but holding tightly on to the handle bars worked. (It also helped that I waited for the high speed line to pass cross before I started) I was nervous but I kept going, never stopping. Once I was across it was like a curse had been lifted. I got on my bike and rode back, no fear at all.

In 2006 I tried to walk across the Ben Franklin Bridge (BFB). I made it less than 1/4 of the way. I wasn’t even to the river yet; i was standing over I-95 when the PATCO high speed line rumbled underneath me shaking the walkway. That was enough for me. I half crawled back down the walkway and didn’t try anything like that again for 5 years.

After my 1st successful bike crossing, I’ve never had any trouble. Except for a windy, foggy, wet April morning last year. I was halfway across when a big gust of wind wobbled me. Imagining a scenario where another gust would blow me off my bike, over the railing and into the river below, I dismounted and walked the rest of the way.

This past Sunday, I biked down West Chester Pike into the City and up and over the BFB.

Then biking thru Camden at the corner of 7th and State, I saw some entrepreneurial activity taking place.

I white kid in a Camry was stopped at the intersection and a black guy was handing him a small plastic bag. (Crack? Heroin? I doubt it was Meth, that’s for a more rural population, right?)

I thought “Cool! I am watching a drug deal go down!”

Half a second later I thought “Crap! I am watching a drug deal go down!”

Fortunately I did NOT have my camera out. I just rolled thru the intersection, keeping my gaze straight ahead and somehow did not end up getting shot in the back of my head.

And I did make it out of Camden and then thru Pennsauken and up to my next destination the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge.

For those of not versed in the various Delaware River Crossings. The Tacony-Palmyra Bridge (TPB) operated by the Burlington County Bridge Commission is a low cost alternative to the nearby Betsy Ross Bridge operated by the Delaware River Port Authority. 

Today the tolls are $2 to cross the TPB and $5 for the Betsy Ross. These are one-way tolls. It’s free to get into New Jersey. They make you pay if you want to leave. (But it is free either way on your bike!)

Back in the 70s the difference was even more pronounced. The TBP was a $.05 toll while the bigger bridges were $.55. Part of the reason for the lower price is that the bridge sometimes has to open to allow ships to pass thru an auto traffic is delayed.

No fear of heights as I walked across this bridge. What was disconcerting was the walkway is at the same level as traffic so there are many fast and loud vehicles rumbling by.

Back in to Pennsylvania, I biked down Aramingo to Girard, past the Eastern State Penitentiary, then around the Art Museum, and across the elusive Spring-Garden Bridge. 

Near the end of the trip, I came upon a road resurfacing project near the intersection of Route 3 and the Blue Route. I was huffing and puffing going up the hill and took a deep breath of hot asphalt air. Ugh! Thought  I was going to be sick. Kept going and made it home and just laid on the grass in the shade until my head and lungs cleared.

Total distance 43.8 miles (including walking across the Tacony-Palymra Bridge)

Next time, I will have to find another new way to cross the Delaware River.

Tacony-Palymra Bridge
Two lanes out of Philadelphia. One lane into New Jersey
This bridge is not part of the story.
Watch your bike speed on the bridge.
Call Homeland Security! Someone is taking photos of critical infrastructure!