New bay bridge span: It’s for bikes and pedestrians too

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Photo: Nancy Rubin

Berkeleyside contributing photographer Nancy Rubin was lucky enough to be one of the first to cross the new eastern span of the bay bridge, not in a vehicle but on foot. To find out more about the span’s bicycle and pedestrian path, visit Bay Bridge Info online.

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Photo: Nancy Rubin

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Photo: Nancy Rubin

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Photo: Nancy Rubin

In stunning photos: First vehicles cross the new bay bridge (09.03.13)
New bay bridge opens, and a safer route to the East Bay (09.003.13)
New Bay Bridge span: 2 minutes, 3 years of building [01.08.13]
Lightning strikes Bay Bridge in midst of dramatic storm [04.13.12]
View from the water: New span of Bay Bridge takes shape [10.05.11]
Sneak peek: Up close on the new Bay Bridge span [02.14.11]

Screen Shot 2013-09-03 at 8.17.10 PMThe hottest ticket this fall in Berkeley: Uncharted: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas. Uncharted is two days of provocative thinking, inspiring speakers, workshops, and a big party — all in downtown Berkeley in October. Read all about it, be part of it. Register on the Uncharted website. 

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  • The_Sharkey

    You specifically claim that the idea of commuting over the bridge by bicycle is “clownishly ridiculous.”

    You read my comment wrong. I said that the idea that any appreciable number of people are going to stop driving and commute from the East Bay to SF during rush hour.

    I’m objecting to Markous’ supposition that the people who would bike commute to SF would be going from driving a car to riding a bike (I’d wager that most make the commute by bike + public transport now), and that the number of people who would do so would be sufficient to make a significant easing of traffic on the bridge.

  • tor_berg

    I missed that part. His reply merely corrected your mistaken assertion that a bike path on the Western span would cost $1 billion. I don’t see anywhere where Markos took “umbrage” at the idea of a $1 bike toll. Could you point that out to me?

  • The_Sharkey

    Gas taxes pay for only about 30 percent of road maintenance. Who is
    paying for the other 70%? Everyone else, including non-drivers. Now I
    don’t know if the bridge tolls pay for the entire upkeep and maintenance
    budget (doesn’t look so),
    but even if so, drivers should be happy to help fund something that
    could reduce the number of cars on the road, thus lessening congestion. I
    know I would when forced to cross that bridge.

    That’s a response to my suggestion of adding a $1 bike toll.
    The small paragraph after that is where he disagrees about the total cost for the bike paths.

  • tor_berg

    This is very odd. That does not say, at all, that Markos would be unwilling to pay a toll to cross the bridge, nor that he thinks a toll for bicyclists in general would be unacceptable.

    Markos, is it your contention that cyclists should not be subjected to a toll to cross the Bay Bridge?

  • tor_berg

    So, by your own admission, you don’t know one way or the other. You have an impression, but as we’ve demonstrated, your impression lacks perspective. Again, speaking for myself, those are the times I try to avoid using phrases like “clownishly ridiculous.”

  • Mbfarrel

    I hope the pathway remains pedestrian friendly. I’d like to see a physical barrier between the bikes & peds.

  • serkes

    Cogent comments, but snarky, Sharkey

  • EBGuy

    Definitely agree (I’d like to see this in my lifetime, but I’ll settle for my kids). My hope is that the bike coalitions can put forth a solution that is more fiscally responsible than the Caltrans Cadillac Plan (as in look, we can drive a Cadillac on the “bike path”).

  • The_Sharkey

    That is a study that looks at the biking habits of all of North America, most of which is much flatter than San Francisco and the surrounding areas. Taking a study that looks at such an enormous geographic region and trying to use “data” you’re inferring from an average as a basis for your argument? Totally ridiculous.

    Pretending that misspelling your uncommon name is a personal attack? Right before you launch into your own weak personal attacks? Inferring a bunch of data and then pretending that the building of the new bike paths will magically coincide exactly with whenever the roadbed on the western span needs to be replaced?

    For Pete’s sake, man. I know you’re busy trying to convince the Democrats you helped get elected to not go to war with Syria, but do you really object so much to the idea of a $1 bike commute toll that you want to keep going down this road?

  • Markos Moulitsas

    Per census data, the Bay Area has some of the highest concentration of bike commuters in the country. You know, real data. Not inferences. Data!

    All of that, despite the hills. Imagine that! Incidentally, the weather is a bigger factor in bike commuting than any hills. And on that front, the Bay Area shines. Heck, people commute across the Golden Gate Bridge, and there’s less density on the Marin side than Oakland/Berkeley.

    You still have no evidence that bike lanes would accelerate the necessary upgrade schedule, despite everything suggesting that any west-span bike lanes would be years and years away. Let us know if you ever find any.

    Again, you don’t like the cost and it makes you cranky. I think it’s worth it and willing to stand up for it. Let’s just agree to disagree.

    Ultimately, it’s clear that this stems from your anger that the bridge cost so much to build. You’ve made that perfectly clear. But on that bike trail, all I saw was smiles and happiness, dozens (if not hundreds) of cyclists and pedestrians in the middle of the day on a Wednesday, and a big group at the end of the trail talking wistfully of how awesome it would be if we could ride and walk even further. I saw immense civic pride, the feeling that a beautiful Bay Area just got even more beautiful. And the hunger to expand on what the new east span of the Bay Bridge has begun.

    I’m out.

  • Markos Moulitsas

    I’d be open to lots of different ways to pay for this. I was responding to 1) scaremongering about the price (which is high enough that scaremongering seems unnecessary), and 2) Sharkey’s arguments against the necessity/utility of such lanes.

  • The_Sharkey

    That census data does not support your argument that there are “plenty of people” who will commute from the East Bay to SF by bike, or that the number of people who would do so would have such a significant impact on bridge traffic that charging them a $1 toll would be unfair. Then you link to a story about 2 individuals, as if you actually think it’s valid to try to extrapolate that out to show that loads of people are going to make the commute via bike, and then finish your comment with a good lengthy appeal to emotion.

    Do you really think this makes a compelling or even reasonable argument against a $1 bike commute toll?

  • The_Sharkey

    I never said they wouldn’t be useful.
    But saying that a bike lane from Oakland to SF is necessary? You’ll have to show your work if you want to make that claim.

  • The_Sharkey

    A dozen people? Oh well by all means if a dozen people are going to use it to commute clearly we should spend a billion dollars on this bike path!

  • foo

    Put me down as as another ridiculous clown who hopes to ride his bike to SF someday. I’d also be wiling to pay a $1 toll to pay for it.

  • serkes

    Will be even better once they expand the hours beyond Sunrise Sunset

    Any plans in the works (perhaps after the path is finished?)

  • EBGuy

    Looks like this will not be the case, as both SF and East Bay bike coalitions are promoting plans with12 foot car friendly “wings” on both sides of the western span. As EBBC notes, we have the support of Caltrans staff.

    Anyone know of a third way advocacy group promoting a bike & pedestrian only solution that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg (and weight a ton…)?

    Here’s my wild interim solution: a zipper bike lane that runs in the opposite direction of commute traffic. In the morning, you’d create a bike lane on the lower deck (out of SF). In the evening, all lanes on the lower deck would be opened, and you’d create bike lane on the upper deck using barrier transfer machines (aka zipper machines).

  • The_Sharkey

    A great, and inexpensive idea.

    Given the track record of Bay Area politicians and California’s budget-making decisions that alone is reason enough for it to never be seriously considered.

  • rhuberry

    But if it’s only open sunrise to sunset, wouldn’t that impact a whole lot of commuters in the winter months when days are so much shorter?

  • wooliemonster

    Hey Markos. Read/participated on DK on and off for many years. I’m about to be another Texas -> East Bay (Berkeley) transplant in November :) I’d read before that you’re an avid cyclist, and not surprised to see you in this thread. Anyway, being a more active cyclist is one of the main things I”m looking forward to about my move. Maybe we’ll run into each other some day!

  • testit

    What makes collecting tolls on the bridge so special? All roads and bridges require an initial investment and ongoing maintenance. Society benefits from having this infrastructure and so it pays for it. I advocate that no tolls be collected anywhere and other methods are used for payment, just like the rest of the roads, police, fire departments, military, teachers, civil servants, etc.

  • Abigail

    I posted a question about this yesterday but .. hmm … it has disappeared. I am thrilled about this beautiful bike/pedestrian lane, but was concerned when I drove the bridge for the first time this week (stunning!) about suicide prevention measures. It’s a pretty low fence/railing totally accessible to pedestrians. I was hoping maybe there was some other deterrent below that I couldn’t see. Sadly, that’s not the case. I found my answer in the B.A.R. For the billions of dollars this project went over-budget, it seems ludicrous this wasn’t part of the design.

  • Josh Stewart

    How do you get onto the footpath? I want to go this weekend.

  • Kate W.

    I tried to park at Ikea today to walk the path. A parking attendant was having all cars towed at that time that did not belong to ikea customers. I told him I would buy something and he said he would tow my car anyway. Beware.

  • Mbfarrel

    Ah yes, Berkeley’s entitled parkers. I remember being on my way home and needed to stop at what was then Long’s Drugs and their lot was entirely full. Plenty of parking on the street, but metered.

    It was 5:45 and there was an early reading at Black Oak Books. A steady stream of people were leaving the parking lot and headed a block to Black Oak. Paying the meter for 15 minutes was just too onerous.
    What was truly fascinating was the sound they made going by. Like a flock of birds; “cheep, cheep,cheep.”

  • Chris J

    FWIW, were I to be attending a similar event, I would NOT park in the Long’s/CVS parking lot because…well, it would have nothing to do with being cheap. More I would have a concern about being caught partly, guilt because its a small parking lot for legitimate use (when going to destinations near Andronico’s at Shattuck/Cedar, I usually refrain from using their parking lot–not sure why (and I dislike Andronico’s for too many reasons to go into))…

    Yah, I admit I’m inconsistent. But Ikea’s parking lot? Me? Privileged? I don’t think so…but were I to park at the ‘public’ lot where the Peet’s, Hot Italian restaurant and that Urban Outfitter, I would feel no shame or guilt.

    Ikea would need to be finessed if they have parking watchers. Ahh, the chaotic life of the suburban driver and parking…

  • The_Sharkey

    I don’t know if the bike/foot traffic stays at the levels it is now, or increases, this is going to be a real problem.

    I was out on a shopping jaunt in El Cerrito today and saw dozens of dozens of people parking in the IKEA and Trader Joe’s/ROSS parking lots and pulling bikes out of their cars to head over to the bridge path. I saw probably 70 or 80 people doing this in the short time I was in those two parking lots. And not just parking at the far ends of the lots, but right in front of the entrances to the stores and in spots that should ave at least been reserved for people who were actually shopping at the stores that were paying for the property tax on the lots.

    Beyond that, doesn’t people driving their cars to park in lots to ride bikes sort of defeat one of the main reasons we’re trying to push bicycle travel? These people aren’t using their bikes instead of their cars, they’re actually burning more fossil fuels than they normally would be by driving to locations to use bike paths that don’t actually take them anywhere that they normally would have gone by car. Instead of their bike helping them cut out a car trip, they’re taking an additional car trip so they can use their bikes.

  • Chris J

    My feeling is that this is a demographic bump heralded by the unique circumstances of its newness. Soon enough it will be back to normal. Then only the diehard bikers will use the bay bike crossing.

  • Katie Truong

    It’s a great ride…..up hill all the way, its a quite of a workout!

  • guest

    If you are wondering how many people might bike to SF, there are official counts from a Golden Gate Bridge study – 2500 bikes / day weekday 6000 bikes / day Saturday

  • EBGuy

    Here’s what a zipper solution is costing on the Golden Gate Bridge:

    After 15 years of planning and searching for funding, the bridge district’s Board of Directors is expected to approve the purchase of the $26.5 million barrier – designed to prevent head-on collisions – at meetings Thursday and Friday.

  • Judah Schiller

    There is only one way to bike from East Bay to SF….