Is it feasible to bike across the Wright Memorial Bridge?
June 20, 2020 11:56 AM   Subscribe

I want to bike across the Wright Memorial Bridge (west to east, from the mainland to the Outer Banks) and can find very little information. Is this feasible? Has anyone done it in the last decade?

I am planning a long-distance bike trip from Washington, DC to Avon, NC. I have lots of experience biking rural roads in Virginia and North Carolina, as well as biking up and down the Outer Banks, so I am not worried about these areas. However, the route I was considering would lead me across the Wright Memorial Bridge, which is 3 miles across and (on the side I would be on, at least) has almost no shoulder.

Have any of you done this? I am especially curious about the traffic on the bridge, and how risky this stretch would be. Is there a certain time of day that would be better or worse?

I could only find two reports online of people doing this, one from the late 1990s, and another from 2005. If anyone knows of any more recent reports of biking across the Wright Memorial Bridge, I would love to know about them.
posted by kingoftonga86 to Travel & Transportation around North Carolina (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There's a wide enough shoulder; I wouldn't hesitate. And it is two parallel bridges, now - one for each direction. For the least traffic, of course, go really late at night, off-season - but in-season, with traffic backed up would be pretty safe as well IMO.
posted by Rash at 12:14 PM on June 20, 2020

The Currituck Visitor's Guide has some info: Roadways and Bikeways
U.S. Highway 158 (Caratoke Highway), coming in from Elizabeth City in the west and running east to the junction with NC-168 in Barco,and then south along the peninsula over the 3-mile-long Wright Memorial Bridge into Kitty Hawk, which is the only access point to the Currituck Beaches. It is marked with bicycle “Share the Road” signs. The bridge has 2′-wide shoulders eastbound, and 6′-wide shoulders westbound. The same traffic levels, road conditions, and precautions apply here as described above for NC-168.* Distance 24 miles.
* However, bicycling on the shoulders of the roadway of NC-168 is not ideal for Sunday afternoon casual cyclists. Traffic is sometimes heavy and fast, with some big trucks and recreational vehicles, and there are numerous business entrances and residential driveways. Traffic is especially heavy on summer weekends; cyclists need to be experienced in handling this kind of traffic.

A lot of the OBX biking guides for that area are attributed to Bill Brobst of the Wheels of Dare Bike Club. Said club seems to have dropped off the internet, which I suspect may be related to it being this Bill Brobst, who passed on in 2017.
posted by zamboni at 12:49 PM on June 20, 2020

I have not biked this bridge but I have driven over it many, many times at all hours. Seconding that "traffic is sometimes heavy and fast" warning, but if you're an experienced cyclist you can plan to make this work.
posted by desuetude at 6:10 PM on June 20, 2020

I think you should be OK if you're NOT doing this on a weekend this summer. There is enough room on the "shoulder" for broken-down cars to "park."

In my two decades of going down to OBX, I can count the number of times I've seen a cyclist on the bridge on one hand. But that's mostly because I'm on that bridge on a weekend in the summer.
posted by kuanes at 5:09 AM on June 21, 2020

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