By Maggie LaCoste
I have gotten a lot a comments in the last day about a post I wrote about recent improvements to the bike lanes on the Saint Nazaire bridge. Whether you have personally tried to cross the bridge on bike or not, everyone seemed to have gotten a good sense of the challenge watching the Tour de France yesterday! It was a perfectly beautiful day and the bridge was closed to traffic as the cyclists sped along the day’s route. I remembered just how narrow those bike lanes were, even though they looked quite ample on my wide screen television. When you add 2 to 3 feet to the width of your bike for panniers, that bike lane gets very, very narrow. I was so happy to see the Tour riders up out of their saddles going up the hill–imagine doing that with panniers on the narrow bike path with trucks whizzing by you, even at the recently lowered speed limits.
Watching the Tour yesterday and again on tape this morning, I happily accepted that the only way that I will cross the Saint Nazaire bridge by bike is if they close it down for a celebration someday, and I suggest that you do the same if you are a recreational cyclist. The time to make this decision is not when you are riding the crest of the bridge and have no options. Plans are still underway for some type of ferry service from the La Baule area to St. Brevin. I will be cycling this area on the Atlantic Coast in 2012, so I will be curious to see what progress has been made by then. In the meantime, the perfect and safe solution is the Number 17 bus from the Saint Nazaire station to St. Brevin. There is one every 30 minutes, and the ride takes about 15 minutes. Each bus holds eight bicycles so unless you are part of a very large group, it is doubtful that they will run out of space, and if they do, someone will just need to wait for the next bus. It may not be the most exciting way to cross the river, but for right now, it is certainly the safest!