by Kirby Lindsay
According to the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) web site, the Fremont Bridge, a bascule bridge (a drawbridge that uses a counterweight system,) opened over 566,000 times as of January 2006. As one of the lowest bridges in Seattle, at 30 feet above the water, more sailboats and motor vessels must have it raised for their safe passage, and it opens and closes an average of 35 times a day making it “one of the busiest bascule bridges in the world.”
Contrary to paranoid musings, the Bridge Tenders (the men and women who raise and lower the bridge) do not wait to open the bridge for a waiting sailboat until a specific person – like you – approaches. It only feels that way.
Until April 2010, a sound montage created by Seattle artist Kristen Ramirez will entertain those waiting for the bridge to close. Ramirez created the audio piece based on her residency this past summer. The audio art can be heard during daytime bridge openings, and at 1-800-761-9941. The project received funding from the City of Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, in partnership with SDOT.
Ramirez’s ‘The Bridge Talks Back’ provides a creative and novel option. Still, consider these more time-tested methods for making the few minutes wait on the bridge pass quickly and, if possible, productively.
This idea came as a suggestion from a dear reader who shall remain nameless, to avoid the wrath of those of us on the sidewalk or in the next car over who wish to avoid impromptu, Kareoke-like audio mutilations. Belting out a favorite show tune, or the latest hip-hop classic, may entertain some (especially when it leads to a clarifying debate on the lyrics of “Louie Louie”), but the reader further suggested, for the vocally-challenged, “or you could mime something.”
For sanitary reasons, I am not recommending carting meals around in the car in case the bridge goes up, but if the moment, and the meal, presents itself…
Still no Bluetooth? Don’t worry. A bridge delay will provide opportunity to return calls, texts or tweets. Turn off the car or lean the bike on the railing, and play catch up. OMG 4evr w8 @ brdg bt wmn n car w/jelly donut LOL
2. Social Time
Why not strike up conversation with the person beside you? The topic? A blue and orange drawbridge, and the community that loves it.
Unless drivers haul hand weights around in the back seat, the effectiveness of isometrics or repeated arm raises looks dubious. However, a run around the vehicle or jumping jacks in the ‘empty’ on-coming traffic lane can be hazardous. Drivers with limited patience often perform rapid, accelerating U-turns without a visual check for random physical fitness practitioners.
For those waiting on the sidewalk - the bicycle and pedestrian traffic – please take this opportunity for calisthenics. They provide excellent aerobic benefits, and much needed entertainment for those trapped in their vehicles.
While drivers can by-pass the Fremont Bridge by detouring to the George Washington Memorial Bridge (also known as the Aurora Bridge) real Fremonsters always trek through the Center of the Universe to cross the Lake Union Ship Canal. If nothing else, should it be one of the 35 times the bridge goes up, pass the time to consider other activities that can safely done during a bridge delay – and at the end of your journey share them with Fremocentrist.com.
Then, in January, look for a companion list – those things those who wait should NOT do to pass the time
©2010 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.