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Bridge projects to affect pedestrians, bicyclists

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Tourists hoping to catch panoramic views from the Golden Gate Bridge will soon have to compete with bicycles whizzing by and scaffolding on the sidewalk.

Seismic upgrades and painting work on the historic span will force the two-wheelers and pedestrians to comingle, and it may result in cyclists having to walk their bikes across a portion of the bridge.

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.

“It will definitely be a four-month period of challenge for all users on that sidewalk,” said Mary Currie, spokeswoman for the Golden Gate Bridge transit district. “We’re going to do our best to make sure this goes as smoothly as possible.”

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The seismic retrofit is one of two separate projects on the 1.7-mile span that connects San Francisco to Marin County. In late August, construction workers will erect an 800-foot-long scaffolding in the middle of the western sidewalk to repaint the bridge’s main cable, which will continue for a year.

Brad Frizzell, customer service manager at Blazing Saddles, a San Francisco bicycle rental business that offers packages to ride over the bridge, said district officials have begun corresponding with the company on the best way to direct its customers to bike over the span.

Manish Champsee, president of pedestrian advocacy group Walk San Francisco, said cyclists traveling during the busy weekend times should slow down in deference to walkers or, if it’s crowded, get off and walk the bikes themselves.

“When there is mixed traffic on the bridge sidewalks, there is certainly potential for collisions,” Champsee said.

The anchorage retrofitting is part of a four-phase, $645 million project that will enable the bridge to withstand up to an 8.3-magnitude earthquake.


Work ahead

Two construction projects on the Golden Gate Bridge will impact bicyclists and pedestrians.

August-September 2010 to August-September 2011

  • Repainting work on western sidewalk’s main cable
  • Two 400-foot scaffolding systems to be erected
  • Bicyclists asked to walk bikes through scaffolding area

November 2010 to February 2011

  • Retrofitting on cable’s main anchorage on western sidewalk
  • Western sidewalk to be shut down completely to cyclists (pedestrians already barred from western sidewalk)

March 2011 to June 2011

  • Retrofitting on cable’s main anchorage on eastern sidewalk
  • Northern portion of eastern sidewalk to be closed to pedestrians and cyclists
  • Cyclists to be able to use western sidewalk 24/7
  • Pedestrians can use open portion of eastern sidewalk

August-September 2011 to August-September 2012

  • Repainting work on eastern sidewalk’s main cable
  • Cyclists to be asked to walk bikes through scaffolding area


Source: Golden Gate Bridge transit district

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