Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Spiders of the I-90 Bridge

I've ridden across the I-90 floating bridge more than 3000 times. It's part of my workday commute and you could say it's part of my routine, but every day reveals something new. Sometimes it just takes a look in a slightly different direction.

Last night, when coming home from work, I happened to glance down and north as I crossed the bridge, looking towards the water but the focus of my eyes fell short of the water and I saw, clearly for the first time, the gaps at the base of the protective side rails of the bridge. And in the gaps, in almost every gap, a spider had spun a web.

On the trip this morning I had my camera ready.

I walked slowly beside my bicycle, taking pictures of the spiders repairing and rebuilding their webs. Halfway across the bridge, I heard a familiar voice behind me, "Did you get tired of riding or what?" It's my friend John Duggan. I explain to him about spiders and the webs and point them out. "You know," he says, "I've ridden across this bridge thousands of times and never noticed them."

"Me neither," I agree.

John and I go our respective ways and the spiders continue with their work.

I'll still marvel at Mount Rainier looming to the south and thrill to the eagles that soar over Mercer Island. I'll still watch the morning sun crest the Cascades and light the Olympic Mountains. But sometimes now, I look down and a little to the north.

Keep 'em rolling



Bob M said...

Ah, yes, that's the beauty of biking, isn't it. It's generally 3-8 times faster than walking, so it is a viable means of transport, but it is slow enough that you can actually see things as you go (unlike in a car). It's also a lot easier to stop and examine what you've found.


Unknown said...


Design process is underway for a new I-90 bridge in Cleveland. Hopefully it will include both a separated bike lane and spider infrastructure.

Anonymous said...

Now you'll see them every time,...

And on a cold foggy morning you'll see them coated in mist and catching the wind blowing down from the north.

my favorite thing from the bridge crossing is when the water is very smooth you can look down from the West high rise and see the waterfowl swimming under the surface.


Lief said...

I think I have seen the spiders before but I can't be sure, I certainly haven't taken a minute to check them out. Next time.

I have noticed another phenomenon that may elude upright bikers (I am on a bent).

Low flying birds, directly overhead.

Maybe they are just checking me out, (or maybe they are fine-tuning their targeting system) but I have been paced by many birds at about 12-14 mph.
Usually they will be crows and they will fly in from one side or another and fly right above me at about 15 feet for 10-20-40-100 or more yards. Long enough to satisfy their curiosity and long enough for me to see their tucked in landing gear, the twisting of their tail feathers to modulate their path, and if it happens to be a quiet section, I can hear the wind in their feathers.
It always ends too quickly, but I gotta figure that uprights don't get to enjoy this like I do because of my head position; it is so easy to just look up.

Next time I will make a conscious effort to close my mouth when I look up. ;)

John Calnan said...

Don't tell anyone, but the webs actually hold the handrails on.

Anonymous said...

wht a beautiful photographs

chatty cathy said...

lovly post and thx for not bothring the spiders!

EM said...

Those spiders look kind of big. They must be feasting pretty nicely out on the bridge!

jasonk said...

If you're a spider, that has to be the greatest spot in town for a web. Can you imagine all the bugs they catch in those webs? Those spiders have hit the jackpot.
Also, it is good that you're a cyclist and not a bug, or you would have noticed those webs a long time ago :)

Dan O said...

We live in a great area - no doubt about it.

I've commuted on the Burke-Gilman trail a few zillion times and still don't tire of it. Views of Lake Washington, Mount Rainier - and others riders to chat with or push the pace.

Cool post. Thanks for putting the web pics on the web.....