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‘Transbay the Hard Way’ Ride Underscores Lack of Bike Lane on Oakland Bay Bridge

It's still illegal to ride a bike between Treasure Island and downtown San Francisco on a bridge with ten lanes for motorists. But do tell us again how cyclists are privileged.

The western span of the Oakland Bay Bridge still has no bike facility. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Note: GJEL Accident Attorneys regularly sponsors coverage on Streetsblog San Francisco and Streetsblog California. Unless noted in the story, GJEL Accident Attorneys is not consulted for the content or editorial direction of the sponsored content.

Twenty cyclists met at the San Francisco Ferry Terminal Sunday morning for a Labor Day weekend ride to Treasure Island--a distance of five miles as the crow flies. But it took them five hours, thanks to the lack of a bike lane on the Western Span of the Oakland Bay Bridge.

On Labor Day weekend ten years ago, Bay Area cyclists celebrated the opening of the bike and pedestrian path on the newly completed Eastern Span of the Oakland Bay Bridge between Treasure Island and Oakland. That was supposed to be only a first step towards linking San Francisco and Oakland.

Bike East Bay's Robert Prinz explains the route at the start of the ride. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick

"The omission of a pathway continuing along the West Span to San Francisco remains the most glaring gap in the Bay Area bike network," wrote Bike East Bay in a post about the anniversary. However, "Plans for a West Span Pathway have been in the works since even before the East Span was completed, but seem to be in a constant state of always 'ten years away.'"

The full route and only way to bike from downtown San Francisco to Oakland or Treasure Island... a 44-mile detour.

That's why the cyclist-advocates, led by Bike East Bay's Robert Prinz, decided to celebrate the anniversary of the opening of the Eastern Span bike lane by doing such a round-about and grueling ride, as pictured above--currently the most "realistic" way to ride between San Francisco and Treasure Island.

That's 44 miles and 1,500 feet of elevation. That said, the ride was of course beautiful and scenic, with a mix of outstanding protected bike lanes and the usual stripe-and-a-prayer situation on parts of the route.

The group took a break after its first bridge, the Golden Gate of course. Karl the Fog payed a visit for this part of the ride. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick

It was also a nice exploration of the Bay Area's micro-climates, with cool winds and fog for the Golden Gate Bridge crossing, and sunshine through Marin and the East Bay.

The ride comes weeks after another, much larger group of cyclists took over the Oakland Bay Bridge in part to protest the lack of a connection between San Francisco and Treasure Island.

Nevertheless, as previously reported, there's little sign of progress on the only official proposal for adding a bike crossing on the Oakland Bay Bridge--a super complicated, $550 million plan to add a lane cantilevered off the side of the bridge. That plan, of course, isn't really about cycling--it's about avoiding taking back a single foot of space from motorists on a bridge that used to have lanes dedicated to transit. It also isn't budgeted. "The West Span Path is expected to open in January of 2033 if funding can be identified," explained MTC's Gavin Lohry, in an email to Streetsblog sent about the August ride.

In other words, it's still ten years away.

Faster cyclists wait for everyone to regroup in San Rafael before crossing the RSR bridge--currently the only way to bike between San Francisco and Oakland. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick

Meanwhile, if Marin Assemblymember and drunk, hit-and-run driver Damon Connolly gets his way, even the "Transbay the Hard Way" ride may soon be impossible. He's still pushing a bill to convert the bike lane on the Richmond San Rafael bridge to another lane of bumper-to-bumper car traffic.

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