Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Fall 2010 Golden Gate Bridge bike lane closure

This morning, I was distressed to see this story in the SF Examiner:

During a four-month period beginning in November, cyclists will be banned from the westside walkway — normally designated for bike riders — due to a construction project that entails the seismic retrofitting of the bridge cable’s main anchorage, which straddles both sidewalks on the northern part of the span.
The first phase of the seismic work, which is scheduled to last four months, will shut down the western sidewalk. Cyclists will be added into the busy mix of walkers, tourists and sightseers during the weekends and weekday evenings. Normally, cyclists are allowed on the western sidewalk during weekdays before 3:30 p.m.

There could be no clearer violation of City Charter 8A.115:

"Decisions regarding the use of limited public street and sidewalk space shall encourage the use of public rights of way by pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transit, and shall strive to reduce traffic and improve public health and safety."

I didn't make up this law: it's been on the books for almost 11 years.

Doing push-ups
across the bridge could become unsafe if heavy bike traffic were diverted to the pedestrian side.

The solution? Simple: close the western-most vehicular lane during periods of popular bike + pedestrian use and dedicate that to bicycle use. Then pedestrians can keep the eastern walkway.

Hardly complicated. Remove this fence on the southern side, then this fence on the northern side. Then put a fence between what is presently the westernmost vehicular lane and the lane adjacent. The partitioning of lanes into northbound and eastbound is dynamic so neither vehicular directly will be preferentially affected.

Tour of California
That's better!

More congestion for drivers? Of course (although congestion can always be mitigated with an increased toll, which would reduce or even reverse the impact on mass transit, which is exempt). It's the law: you can't put the burden of projects like this on the preferred transportation modes of walking and bicycling.


Mikesonn said...

Great points. But per usual, the burden of construction nearly always falls on peds/bikes.

djconnel said...

I agree. Government likes to claim it supports cycling and walking, and it often does, but even more often proposed ideas are dismissed as "impossible" or "impractical". That is until New York or London or any of a number of more progressive cities do them.

San Francisco is better than most cities at following better examples. Too bad it is so poor at leading the way.