Bicycle path opens on new Bay Bridge span in Oakland

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Complete SF Bay crossing for bicycles still years away

A bicycle-pedestrian path on the newly opened east section of the Bay Bridge over San Francisco Bay opened on Tuesday, holding the promise of a cross-bay bike route in the future.

At present, however, it’s kind of a bike path to nowhere as it stops short of Yerba Buena Island in the middle of the channel because of a design snafu.

The bike path opened at noon Tuesday under the name Alexander Zuckermann Bike Path in homage to the East Bay bicycle advocate who tirelessly pressed for a bike path on the bridge.

Zuckermann was the founder of the East Bay Bicycle Coalition. He died at age 86 of injuries he suffered when he fell during a bike ride with Caltrans officials on a tour of the former Bay Bridge while it was shut down in 2007.

The bike path sports two lanes for bicycles and a third lane for pedestrians. It also has turnouts — called belvederes — where sightseers can pause to enjoy the views without interrupting commuting cyclists. (That bike path design sounds similar to the Highway 520 bridge replacement project in Seattle.)

View Bay Bridge Pathway Bike Access in a larger map

The East Bay Bicycle Coalition provides this map, which shows the two entrances to the Bay Bridge bike path from Shellmound Street in Emeryville and Maritime Street in Oakland.

Once bicyclists get on the bridge, they can ride for two miles out until they have to turn around and come back.

The old bridge is too close to the new Bay Bridge to accommodate the bike path. The old bridge will have to be demolished (the estimate is 2 years for the job) and the bike path extended before bicyclists can make it all the way to Yerba Buena Island.

The west span of the Bay Bridge, which links Yerba Buena Island with San Francisco, underwent extensive retrofitting to improve its tolerance to earthquakes. The East Bay Bicycle Coalition says the Metropolitan Transportation Commission will issue a report soon on various options and costs for a bike path on the west span.

The need for a new bridge became apparent when several bridge decks collapsed during the Loma Prieta earthquake (aka World Series earthquake) in 1989. The job progressed like just about any major public works project in modern times — argument, negotiation, design mistakes, cost overruns and delays.

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