Bay Bridge Bike Path Closed For a Month

BikePathEnd
The bike path on the Oakland Bay Bridge doesn’t quite reach Yerba Buena Island yet. Photo: Melanie Curry/Streetsblog

“Caltrans is prioritizing safety,” says Friday’s press release announcing that the bike path on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge will be closed, beginning today, for the entire month of March.

Right when the days are getting longer and that after-work bike ride to the end of the bridge is truly tempting, the entire path will be closed “to minimize potential risks to the public.”

The remains of the old bay bridge, which run parallel to the new bridge and the bike path, are slowly being removed. The cantilever portion was peeled back from its center over the course of months last year, and in February the first truss section was lowered to a barge and floated away.

Crews will now begin working on a second truss section, using torches to cut it away from its supports and sometimes creating smoke and noise.

For the last few months, the bike path was partially closed from time to time as crews did similar work on the first truss section. The bridge itself was never closed and car traffic flowed past–only the bike path along its southern rim was blocked partway to the end. But even then, you could ride or walk at least partway across, to catch the stunning views and maybe check out the demolition work on the old bridge. And usually on the weekends you could count on riding all the way to where the path currently ends, just before Yerba Buena Island.

The bike path runs parallel to the old bay bridge, which is being removed section by section over time. Photo: Melanie Curry/Streetsblog
The bike path runs parallel to the old bay bridge, which is being removed section by section over time. Photo: Melanie Curry/Streetsblog

But now Caltrans has decided to shut down the entire path for safety. At least, that’s what the press release says, but another reason seems to be convenience, at least for Caltrans. Leah Robinson-Leach, spokesperson for the Bay Bridge, said that shutting down the bridge “sometimes on a moment’s notice” was complicated, and the “team” decided it was just simpler to close the entire thing for a month “for the safety of the public.”

It’s going to be a bummer for all the people who’ve been getting out there to enjoy the views.

“It’s disappointing that the path is going to be closed for the whole month,” said Renee Rivera, executive director of Bike East Bay. “It’s a great recreational facility in a place where there aren’t a lot of them,” she added.

That seems reason enough to make some extra effort to keep the path open at least partially, especially on weekends. Especially because this closure is just for the removal of one section; after this, Caltrans will still need to remove three more 504-foot segments and fourteen 288-foot segments. These closures could go on for a long time.

  • theqin

    Someone in the legislature should write into law that a closure of a bike lane requires at least a closure of one traffic lane. Then legitimate construction activities could proceed, but closures that actually obstruct planned travel would not be allowed — such as the closure here of the bike path and the closure of the west path of the golden gate bridge during non commute hours (when usually the west sidewalk of the golden gate bridge is completely empty and not being used by bridge employees).

  • saimin

    This isn’t a real bike lane since it doesn’t go anywhere. I am more pissed off at the endless delays in connecting the path to Treasure Island.

  • mx

    Exactly. This is a closure of a recreational facility. While that’s unfortunate, and it’s worth seeing if there’s a better way to keep it open, this closure isn’t preventing anyone from getting to work or forcing cyclists to detour into dangerous traffic.

  • murphstahoe

    I LOL’d listening to the radio 740 AM today – “Cyclists crossing the Bay Bridge will have to find another way into San Francisco starting this week”. I assumed the bike shuttle was going to be out of commission.

  • mx

    I forgot about the bike shuttle. Why are they still running it now that BART isn’t banning bikes during commute hours anymore? I guess you could argue BART is so crowded, but it seems weird that it’s still running.

  • murphstahoe

    I don’t think Caltrans can back out of the shuttle – there is no alternative way to ride across the bay, so they have to have a shuttle. BART doesn’t “count”

  • I mean that happens frequently enough, but this isn’t one of those times :P.

  • RichLL

    Why doesn’t BART count?

    Perhaps the shuttle should run between SF and Treasure Island only, on the assumption that the bike lane (when it’s open) can get you from the East Bay to TI?

  • Prinzrob

    I’d actually love to see them run the Caltrans bike shuttle from TI to MacArthur BART and/or the Transbay Terminal on weekends, once the Bay Bridge east span path connection is complete. I think it will be a popular destination ride, but many people won’t be prepared for the steepness (or car/truck traffic) going back up the hill on Yerba Buena Island.

    On weekdays, though, the shuttle is still used to capacity by bike commuters going back and forth from Oakland to SF, so I don’t think that should be dropped at least until the new BART train car rollout is completely finished, which will hopefully reduce the existing crush loads. As long as people with bikes are regularly bumped from BART trains during commute hours, though, a more reliable alternative will still be needed.

  • murphstahoe

    I might think there is a big role for government but that does not mean I don’t understand the government is completely insane.

    This also doesn’t account for there not being a shuttle on the San Mateo Bridge.

    There is probably some arcane rule and somebody who takes the shuttle is such a pain that it’s cheaper to just keep running it. Or… They could actually stop it but Caltrans has no clue

  • Jeffrey Baker

    Nobody can get on BART with a bike at peak hours, by which I mean between 6:30AM and 10:00AM.

  • Jeffrey Baker

    I think that radio host may have been technically correct (the best kind of correct). Even the existing bike path takes you to a point either within San Francisco, or at least hundreds of feet in the air over it.

  • David

    They are running it because bikes are still bumped from BART during rush hour, and AC Transit can’t pick up the slack. The shuttle runs full last I heard. Find a place to put those bikes, and maybe the shuttle can go away.

  • Every time they close the path I wonder why it is that a few dozen cyclists are “unsafe” there but tens of thousands of drivers a few feet further away are “safe”.

    By the way, contrary to the announcement it was open all the way to the end on Monday.

  • I’m not sure I ever knew about the CalTrans bike shuttle.
    http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist4/shuttle.htm

  • Wow, when did this start happening? I know I was having trouble back in the summer, but I hadn’t heard this.

  • Melanie Curry

    Thanks for that info! I’ll ride out there today to check it out

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