A bicycle path along the four-and-a-half-mile Bay Bridge has been a fantasy of many cyclists for decades — and in 2016, cyclists had half of their dream fulfilled. The five-year-old eastern span has a bike lane tucked along its south side, offering stunning views of the Bay and a way for people to bike or walk from Oakland to Yerba Buena Island. Creating the final stretch — from Yerba Buena Island to San Francisco — is arguably a more difficult task, however, as it’ll have to be added onto the current western span, not constructed along with it.
But the Bay Area is full of dreamers with engineering degrees. Since 2015, a team has worked on various designs and technical details, and now, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission has chosen its favorite.
The winning choice includes a bike lane along the north side. In San Francisco, it would touch down at Essex Street — currently a sweeping highway ramp in SoMa between First and Second streets. On the other side, it’ll join the east span bike path through a connection on Southgate road, designed carefully to “share architectural features” so as to provide a “continuity of experience along the entire crossing.”
All told, this would make the bike lane approximately eight-and-a-half miles long from end-to-end, or about five Golden Gate Bridges. If built, an average cyclist could make it from Emeryville to downtown San Francisco in 45 minutes — a fairly easy commute when compared with a crowded, slow-moving BART train.
Don’t get too excited. While the project’s design has been carefully selected, not a single dime has been dedicated to making it a reality. With an estimated cost of $300 million, this bike path is years away from even breaking ground.
But that hurdle hasn’t stopped designers from dreaming, and their work might not be for naught. While slow-going, ambitious bike infrastructure projects in San Francisco have a tendency to find funding, eventually. Perhaps this could be Marc Benioff’s latest investment in our city’s future? We’d take the Salesforce Bay Bridge Bike Path to work any day.
Want to learn more? The MTC presents the chosen design during a public meeting on Monday, Nov. 19, from 6-8 p.m. at the Bay Area Metro Center, 375 Beale St. in San Francisco. It will also be livestreamed on Facebook.