A bridge is a structure that allows passage from one point to another, generally across a stretch of water or a section of land. Most modern bridges are constructed with some type of support that descends below the structure, providing stability. A hanging bridge does not generally have this. Instead, such bridges are generally supported by suspension.
There are several ways to construct a hanging bridge. The method can depend greatly on culture. In many instances, hanging bridges are found in scarcely developed places and may be made by people with little or no formal education. The construction method can also depend upon the loads that are expected to cross the bridge.
A hanging bridge can be constructed from a number of materials. The types of materials used often depend on the setting, the amount of traffic, and the resources that are available. Each passageway is generally supported or bound together by a network of wires, ropes, or cables.
Due to their supports, many bridges provide a flat passage from one point to another. A hanging bridge, however, is rarely flat. Such a bridge generally sags to some degree, with the highest points being at each end where the structure is anchored. The degree of the downward arch can vary from one bridge to another. It may also be impacted by the load that is on it at any given time.
Hanging bridges are often found crossing waterways and gorges. In many cases, such a bridge is not stabilized. This means that forces such as wind and traffic can cause it to sway. Generally, this is one reason why it is rare to find a hanging bridge that has been constructed without handrails. The instability of a hanging bridge means that adverse weather could make it dangerous to use.
Although many are not stabilized, it is possible to stabilize a hanging bridge. This can be done by adding overhead cables to steady the passageway. It is also possible to use a network of cables or other materials to stabilize the bridge from the bottom or the sides. This, however, involves a greater amount of skill and resources, which are not always available.
Hanging bridges are almost exclusively used for pedestrian traffic in modern times. In most instances, hanging bridges are viewed as inefficient for motorized traffic and the loads that they carry. To anchor a hanging bridge that carries heavy motorized traffic would be very difficult and would likely require a great deal of continual maintenance.